Pregnancy and labor can be all-consuming for women. So all-consuming that I think we sometimes forget how stressful it is for men, too. It’s only fair to acknowledge that they also go through a hell of a lot in the days leading up to childbirth – and that childbirth itself can be a terrifying shit show for fathers.
An article I saw in Buzzfeed today made me think about all of this – The 26 Stages Of Childbirth From A Man’s Perspective. Both of my births were stressful, I can honestly admit I was pretty much just focused on myself the whole time. In retrospect I see that my man didn’t have it very easy, either.
My first pregnancy ended in an unexpected emergency c-section. I was eight days after my due date and at my regular weekly checkup, when my midwife told me I needed to get to the hospital asap. My mom had just arrived and we decided she would come with me to this appointment instead of my husband. Of course.
My mother and I were both panicking, so I did what I always do in these scenarios – call my sister to fix things. My sister was in charge of getting the hospital address to my husband. She did. He went to 10th Avenue in Manhattan instead of 10th Avenue in Brooklyn – where the hospital actually was. Oh, and he left without his wallet.
He called me from the city, confused as to why he was at the address and couldn’t see the hospital. I very calmly explained to him that he was in the wrong borough:
WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING IN MANHATTAN? WHY WOULD YOU GO TO MANHATTAN? ALL OF OUR APPOINTMENTS HAVE BEEN IN BROOKLYN. ARE YOU STUPID? SHIT!
I was so stressed out at the prospect of delivering this child with only my crying, praying Greek mother beside me, that I neglected to even think about how stressed out my poor husband was, essentially running to Brooklyn from Manhattan, hoping someone would be kind enough to swipe him into the subway.
When he arrived, sweating, at the hospital, I immediately expected him to be my rock – which he was – even though by that point there were all sorts of scary interventions going on and he looked terrified. The fact that he was able to calmly look into my eyes while doctors were rushing through a c-section to get our baby out alive is amazing. Not even sure I ever really thanked him, specifically, for that. I will today.
I was determined not to go through a surgery again so I did everything anyone recommended to ensure a successful VBAC. It didn’t happen, but while we were trying my husband accompanied me to chiropractic appointments, rubbed pressure points, gave me pedicures, made sure the hospital bag was at the ready – and totally talked me through a last minute panic attack. Once again I opted not to see the fear in his eyes in the hospital and just take everything that I needed from him to help me get through that second, surgical birth. And once again, not sure I even thanked him for that.
Couples make sacrifices for each other all the time. But I think it’s good to acknowledge that even though your partner didn’t carry the extra thirty pounds of weight or need to recuperate after major surgery – men deal with a lot in the days and months leading up to childbirth, too.
Thanks, honey. There’s no way in hell I’m doing this again, but if I was – there’s no one I’d rather have by my side. I hereby acknowledge that pregnancy and childbirth sucked just as much for you as it did for me.