Dads in the labor and delivery room
Photo by Mikey Needleman
Giving birth began exactly how I always imagined it to be: Rushing to the hospital in the early morning hours, pushed in a wheelchair by my husband and feeling painful contractions that left me breathless. As instructed, we checked into the emergency department before heading up to the labor and delivery unit.
“I’m checking Julie Crowder in. Her doctor said to come in when the contractions were five minutes apart.”
Did he say, Julie Crowder?
A nurse called up to labor and delivery. She said, “we don’t have a Julie Crowder on file here. Did you pre-register?”
Oh no. He did say, Crowder.
“BURTON. My last name is not Crowder anymore. It’s Burton. My husband forgot my name changed after we got married.”
Dads - they get nervous, too. They’re somewhat of a bystander through the process. They definitely don’t feel the physical pain a woman endures, but they feel the heavy emotions as they help bring a human into the world. Stories in the delivery room are always told from a woman’s perspective (as they should) but we rarely hear from men.
Their voices need to be heard, too. After all they do get the honor of front row seats in the labor and delivery room.
It’s a girl! Maiya
Going to the hospital felt like staying in a hotel. We collected our belongings and went to the hospital to poke the “water sack” with what I imagined to be a crochet needle. I knew my role was to provide moral support.
I realized I wasn’t prepared at all. We tried the water bath, which she hated. I encouraged her to remember her training and, “You can do this.” That didn’t work. I settled on rubbing her feet which worked for a while. I felt like I was being scored by the nurses and doctors. You have to be on your best behavior and do all the right things for the mom or they flat out won’t be nice to you.
My wife pushed for four and a half hours. She looked like she was in some serious pain. As I was talking to her, she was passing out in between contractions. “Holy crap,” I thought. Is she asleep? She sure was. I never saw that kind of exhaustion coming. As the baby was crowning the nurse asked me if I wanted to watch. I politely declined as, of course, us guys are scared of being scarred for life. I held my wife’s hand instead. I was surprised by the overwhelming feeling that rushed into the room. I later realized it was the energy of her very being that made me feel emotions I have never felt before.
The experience changed me as a person. I have to say there is nothing better than being a parent. Our children test us daily which has only made me stronger as a man and a father.
It’s a boy! Gavin
The birth story of our son is fun. I was working early mornings at Fox 4 and got up around 3:30 a.m.-ish to head to the station. My wife told me she thought she was having contractions, but I should go ahead and go to work. I worked the morning show and headed back home to check-in. My mom had come over and my wife was laboring in the front room.
After making calls to the doctor, we decided to head into the hospital. My wife’s biggest concern was she going to the hospital too early, not dilated enough, so they'd turn around and send us home.
It turned out she was dilated almost too much, and barely had time for an epidural. So, I left her with the doctor to park the car (apparently I left it in short-term or something). When I came back, they already broke her water and were getting ready to start an epidural. When they peeled back the layer of film covering the epidural needle package, my knees went weak. That was a HUGE needle they were about to stick in my wife's back. The nurses asked me if I was OK and if I needed to sit down. I just remember starting to sweat and needing to get off my feet.
After the epidural was in, the nurses asked me if I wanted some food. Without thinking, I said "SURE!" excited that I'd get to eat a sandwich and watch my wife give birth, how neat?! I didn't know that after you get an epidural, you can't eat. I went to town on this turkey sandwich, string cheese and chocolate milk while my wife glared at me. I feed her ice chips. A few hours and some pushing and screaming later, our son, Gavin, entered the world with a mohawk that our doctor styled on him.
It’s a boy! Colton
My wife was scheduled to be induced. The night before we were scheduled to come in, she started having contractions on her own. She kept saying “I have to poop!” So I started timing every time she said “I have to poop!” When they were five minutes apart, I called the nurse. The nurse told us to come in.
We get to the hospital. She was in labor and dilated to a three. She received an epidural and nurses were monitoring the machines hooked up to her. One machine started spitting out paper and an alarm kept going off. I called a nurse and asked if there was a problem. She said not to worry, she would get the doctor. The doctor walked in and started shouting orders to the nurses. And they wheeled her off. They just left me in the room without an explanation.
A nurse came back and threw a ball of scrubs at me and said “it’s baby time” and she left. I put on my scrubs but I didn’t know where to go. No one was at the front desk. I walked by the surgical area and looked inside. Every nurse was in there. Another doctor walked up and asked if I was the dad and I said yes. He let me in and we scrubbed up. All I remember seeing was bodily fluids all over the floor and a screen was put up hiding everything but her head. Finally, at that point, I knew what was going on. Our baby’s oxygen was being cut off by the umbilical cord and doctors needed to get him out. He was born and the nurses brought the baby to my wife. I finally got to see him. I believe I told my wife, “we’re never doing this again.” But we did a few years later with our daughter.
It’s a boy! MJ
I wrote a Facebook post on the day my son was born. This is what is said.
“As I stand here, next to my wife's bed, I can't help but think about the past. The first day I met her, our awkward courtship, the moment I saw her in her radiance and in her weakness which lead me to see her in her perfection - our first kiss, the surprise proposal, her giggling grin walking down the aisle and when she showed me the plus sign on that little piece of plastic. Then came the plans, the preparation. We got this.
As I stand here, next to my bride's stage, I can't help but think about this moment feeling utterly helpless, holding her hand, watching her take it like a champ - stronger than me, every time she tenses up - my heart simply breaks - the past 18 hours - and all I can do is pray: Hail Marys, Our Fathers and the endless litanies in my head: St. Michael, St. Mary, St. Anne, St Gerard, St. Joseph, Nana, Donna, etc. filled with terrified exuberance. I kiss her forehead - You got this.
As I stand here, next to my best friend's mechanical cloud, I can't help but snifflecoughlaugh, tears rolling down, think about the future. Will he have hair like his momma, or not - like his dad? First teeth, his response someday ‘I wuv you too daddy,’ kindergarten, soccer practice, skinned knees, secret handshakes, grounding him, teaching him to drive a stick, being so proud of him as he accomplishes what he was destined to accomplish the day his mom and I met. He's got this. Today is the first day of all of our lives. Happy Birthday.
To the dads that gave us our babies, held our hands and our heads through labor, cried with our child and stood by our side – or front row – thank you. Happy Father’s Day.