Let’s Not Forget Labor Is A Terrifying Sh*t Show For Men, Too

shutterstock_104167415__1394556912_142.196.167.223Pregnancy 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.

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • Socks (I HATE TAXES) Crusty

      OT:

      Maria, I just wanted to piss you off like crazy by having you read this article and watch the accompanying video

      http://www.myfoxorlando.com/story/24923386/george-zimmerman-speaks-with-fox-35-news

      Your 3 favorite things all in one place. Zimmerman + gun + Florida

      Winning!

      • Maria Guido

        noooooooo

    • Kay_Sue

      “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.”

      Amen. My partner was pretty damned amazing, and I know it couldn’t have been easy on him either. Our youngest son wasn’t breathing when he was born. He was so blue, and I remember my husband trying so hard to distract me, he kept saying, “Hey babe, you did great, look at me, look at me.” He had to be as terrified as I was, and his priority was still me. And I will never forget when I was like “Fuck pushing” and he was like, “No, you can do this.”

      I think I’ll keep him. Maybe.

    • CMJ

      I can’t with that stock picture.

      I might be hipster-shaming, but it looks like a barista just tried to serve him pot coffee instead of individual drip.

    • jsterling93

      My poor husband had to watch me pace our house for over 24 hours straight as my labor progressed so slowly. I was in pain and having contractions ever 4 minutes the entire time but after 2 trips to the hospital only to be sent home because I was barely dilated it was crazy.

      He stayed so calm and I freaked out. He asked all the questions i couldn’t remember and made sure they followed my wishes on things when I reached the point of only begging for pain relief and no longer paying attention to what was happening around me. I think I need to go thank him.

    • jane

      I was insane when having our first. My epidural didn’t take and I was in so much pain. I had been induced because my water had broken and I was just _done_. He had been on his feel for about 6 hours when the nurses nicely brought him in a cot. I looked right at him and said “If your feet leave that floor I’m divorcing you before we leave the hospital.” And, god bless him, he stood next to me for the next 5 hours. He’s a good egg.

    • Ptownsteveschick

      My husband never left my side when our daughter was born. I had to beg him to go to the cafeteria to get something to eat and drink. I was in the hospital from labor to discharge for 4 days. The entire time, he was camped out on the little couch next to the bed. The day I was going home, I was out of bed and I sat down on the couch that had become his home, it was so horribly uncomfortable, all I could say was I’m sooo sorry!

    • Kelly

      My husband went through hell during my labor. Yeah, it was hard for me with my son and I actually at risk of dying at several points. I had doctors and nurses taking care of me during that time but he didn’t. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for him to just stand there helplessly knowing that we might die. I’d be a mess in that situation.

      He ended up calling his mom at one point and crying because he thought I was going to die. He hates his mom too, so it must have been a really low point for him. Maybe that’s why when I said I couldn’t go through it again he agreed right away and made an appointment for a vasectomy. I don’t think he wants to go through that again any more than I do.

      • WriterLady

        I’m terribly sorry you and your family had to endure this. My experience pales in comparison to your ordeal, and I’m so glad you and your son eventually recovered. :)

    • WriterLady

      Oh, yeah. I can relate on so many levels. I had a very long labor, which ended in a c-section. It wasn’t deemed an emergency cesarean, but my body was in such distress that my son’s heart rate had dropped a bit. I didn’t miss a beat in consenting to the c-section, as I just wanted the agony to end (and, most importantly, I wanted a healthy baby boy).

      Rewind to 8 hours earlier, and the first epidural somehow failed. I had no idea that was even possible, but having been bestowed with the genetics of my mother, who endured two natural births with epic back labor, I acted and felt like I was truly going to die. All pregnancies are difficult, but back labor is a special kind of hell that should be reserved for maximum-security-level prisoners. And when an initial epidural fails, you have to wait quite a while to have a second one performed. During that agonizing time frame, my limited memory of the labor process—I nearly blacked-out at one point, I think–conjures up memories of snapping at my husband in ways that seem unimaginable now. Things like, “Please shut the fuck up.” (At least I said “please”?) I also think I actually snarled at him, like a rabid animal at one point. He was so patient and understanding through the whole ordeal. I know it was difficult for him, seeing me in such utter pain during labor and feeling helpless. As for the actual surgery, he actually handled that part pretty well…I presume because I was heavily medicated and felt little-to-no pain during the delivery. But, yes, he was a champ, and we will not be going through a round two—unless the stork gods decide to play a cruel joke on us.

      • Alanna Jorgensen

        I am so sorry. My one and only child was back labor, even the couple times I had contractions in the two weeks before I gave birth were in my back. I commend you, because I was so terrified of the pain I was already experiencing at 3 centimeters that if the epidural had not taken I think I would have passed out.

      • WriterLady

        Thank you, Alanna. I’m sorry to hear about your pain with back labor as well. I have no idea how women managed childbirth before modern medical advancements. Kudos to all the strong women, past and present!

    • SmrtGrl86

      My husband cried from the time I was rushed to C section until the baby was out, he was terrified but I was so high from the epidural and exhausted after 36 hours of induction that I didn’t give a shit. A sent a nurse to hold his hand while they put the spinal block in, since no one was giving him any groovy drugs I though he needed the support.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      My dad sat with my mom through three miscarriages, a 37-week stillbirth, and my arrival, where they found out the day before I was born that I had a heart defect and was unlikely to survive (it was actually much less serious than they thought, but they didn’t realize this until after I was born). He then had to make all necessary arrangements, call every single family member to tell them repeated terrible news, and somehow handle his own feelings about it. He also juggled home and demanding job on top of it. Yeah, it’s what a good new dad should do, but my mom still speaks with amazement about how he handled it all.

      • Alicia Kiner

        wow, you’re dad is an amazing man. I don’t know that I could have the strength to deal with all of that, let alone support someone else through it.

      • Rebecca R

        My husband did the same for me after both of my miscarriages, calling all of the family and even my supervisor to coordinate time off. After the first miscarriage he immediately took a week off of work and took me to the beach, partly because I needed the distraction but he also knew I wouldn’t want to deal with any ‘heartfelt’ condolences. I don’t know what I would have done without him, and I’m so glad your mother didn’t have to go through that alone, either.

    • Williwaw

      I had a necrotic cyst when I was at 22 weeks, and I was in agony (it was way worse than the labor pains I had later, at term). The worst part of this was that we had to wait 6 hours in the ER before they could schedule me an ultrasound, so in addition to being in physical agony, we didn’t know if the baby was okay. After they finally figured out what the problem was, the doctor ordered me some painkillers which were safe for pregnancy, but because my chart was misplaced, it took an additional 2 hours to be given them (and it would have taken longer but I am pretty sure my husband gave the medical staff a bit of prompting). All this time I was just lying on the gurney groaning in agony. After I finally got some drugs and felt better, I saw my husband apologize to several nurses, so I am not sure what he said to them to finally get me some pain relief…but I am soooo grateful he was there going to bat for me when I was in agony. He was awesome.

      By the way, the baby was fine and later delivered healthy. :)

      • the_ether

        I just recently got to see how assertive and blunt my husband is when advocating for me in a hospital, and it fills me with confidence every time I think about it :)

    • Sarah

      My husband was pretty amazing during all four of my labors. One of my best friends was with me during the last two births, and both times she told me how awesome she thought he was at being supportive but not getting all in my face and “coach”y (that’s what I had a doula and a female OB for- I found out at my first delivery I pretty much didn’t want to hear a g-d word of advise from anyone who didn’t also have a cervix.)

      Also, I was on bedrest for at least four weeks with all my pregnancies but one, and he was great- waited on me hand and foot. He isn’t much for the touchy feely stuff or for being all “let’s talk about how much this sucks for you” but damn if he didn’t fetch and carry like Carson from Downton Abbey. Not to mention that the last two times this happened we also had little kids running around to be taken care of!

      Then during my last pregnancy I managed to avoid the full on pre-term labor/bedrest sitch, but had to do progesterone shots weekly to achieve that, and guess who had to learn to give them to me? Yep. I’m pretty sure he was more terrified than I was, but he sucked it up and ended up becoming so good at giving injections that one week when a nurse ended up doing it instead I was horrified at how much more it hurt!

      This was a good reminder that I should probably thank him again for all that… pretty sure I tend to dwell a lot more on what I went through. It’s natural, of course, and I still think the moms “win” the suffering contest here :), but now that I’m a doula myself, I am a lot more aware of how hard it is to, physically and mentally, to support someone during labor.

    • lea

      My husband was pretty amazing too. I lost my shit (figuratively, and literally) during the pushing phase and was a complete mess. I was screaming, begging for help, convinced I could NOT do it (‘can someone get this fucking baby out of me?!?!?’). I bit him, apparently, I have no memory of that. I had an episiotomy in the end. That barely registered to me, but he saw and heard the OB take to my lady parts with a pair of surgical scissors.

      Our baby had to be taken pretty much straight to special care as he wasn’t breathing well (he was fine in a few hours). So husband had to make the choice to either go with new baby or stay with his shocked and vulnerable wife. He went with the baby, as per my request, and then spent the whole time worrying about me and having no idea what was going on.

      My recovery was slow (I had some pregnancy related pelvis instability and was in a great deal of pain from about 30 weeks onwards. They told me it would resolve immediately after birth. They lied.). Then the post partum anxiety. Oh dear god. So he was stuck with a new baby and all the related crying and not sleeping, a hobbling, practically immobile sobbing miserable wife and on top of all that still had a job to go to. And no one gave two hoots how he was doing. They didn’t even think to ask.

      I take my hat off to him, and as you said there is no one I would rather have by my side if we are lucky enough to have another ride on that particular roller coaster.

      • Karen Milton

        The most perfect moment of my life (and I am not in the least exaggerating) was realizing that my SPD had resolved immediately post C-section. I literally cried with joy.

    • Hibbie

      My boyfriend slept/played DS through most of my labor. (It sounds like I procreated with a 14-year-old boy, which I assure you I didn’t). Payback was pretty sweet, though. My doc offered up my placenta to him like it was Simba. He’s still freaked out about that. Ha!

      • gothicgaelicgirl

        *choked*
        simba placenta lol

    • Courtney Lynn

      My husband held it together so well, that I didn’t think about how it was affecting him. Later he told me, he was pretty freaked out, too. I also had an unplanned c-section with our son. My husband said that when he went outside to have a smoke, he actually cried.

    • Momma425

      I love my husband very much, and for that reason, I would like to leave a little mystery in our marriage.

      When(if) we ever get around to having baby number two, he already knows that he is not invited into the room with me while I have my c-section. He doesn’t want to be in there either- which is awesome, because I feel like he has seen me at my best and worst, but we can skip organs coming out. He plans on hanging out with his family in the waiting room and I get to be in privacy during my most vulnerable moments during surgery.

      Shoutout to my husband, who is exactly what I need, when I need it.

    • Tamara Bindy

      My husband was amazing all the way up until I was delivering. However, he literally almost passed out during the birth.

      • NatS

        My Dad made it through all 40 hours of my oldest siblings birth, right up until they stitched mum up and he passed out cold on the floor. He still can’t handle people getting stitches, passed out when the same sibling was two and getting his head stitched up. Mum still goes on about how awesome he was though, she hits transition and can no longer speak but Dad knew the answers to all the questions.

    • Rowan

      My ex husband was about as much use as a chocolate teapot during my labour and delivery. (Reasons he’s an ex, no.4893)

    • Kendra

      Occasionally I’ve caught myself thinking how terrifying it must have been for my husband, having absolutely no control. And I would imagine the moment where he was forced out of my operating room and also kept out of the nursery was probably pretty horrifying. But, he definitely doesn’t have all of the emotional scars that I’m dragging around so it must not have been quite as awful as it was for me.

    • Jayamama

      Yeah, there’s no way I could have made it through two home births without my husband there. Especially since the midwives didn’t arrive with my first baby until I was feeling the urge to push, so he was the one who got me through all the contractions. But I don’t know if I could say that my pregnancies were just as bad for him, since it didn’t hurt him every time he moved, no matter what. He could just roll out of bed instead of turning it into an Olympic event, and I was so jealous. But he did give me the bed on multiple occasions and sleep on the couch instead. He’s pretty cool. I do probably need to thank him again, though.

    • aCongaLine

      We went through the birth of our first together- excited, nervous, worried, the gambit. Hubs cried when she was born, and when she grasped onto his finger, he cried out “She’s holding me! She knows me!” with such wonder- I’ll never forget it. He was amazing. He had a week off from work, and made every minute count.

      With our second, 20 months later, he thought that since he had been through this before, this labor and delivery thing was no big deal. He cried with joy and delight and wonder when #2 was born, as well. However, his attitude when we got home was “Meh. You got this.” And he went to work. (He did, however, bring me a righteous sandwich at the hospital.)

      In retrospect- I think he needed my support the second time around, and I didn’t have any to give. I think he freaked out, thinking that we had just bought a house, just had another baby, and that he needed to provide. I was upset at him for essentially dropping us off at home on the way back to work, and I think he was angry that I wasn’t focused on his needs. I spiraled heavily into PPA- which helped nothing. It took us almost a year to find a decent rhythm, but now we’re okay. I think we’ve both learned a lot about what the other needs. They say three time’s a charm, so maybe we’ll both have what we need when we have #3.

    • SA

      I definitely feel that my husband was there and going through it all 100% too. I still give him a shout out for it from time to time.

    • aCongaLine

      We went through the birth of our first together- excited, nervous, worried, the gambit. Hubs cried when she was born, and when she grasped onto his finger, he cried out “She’s holding me! She knows me!” with such wonder- I’ll never forget it. He was amazing. He had a week off from work, and made every minute count.

      With our second, 20 months later, he thought that since he had been through this before, this labor and delivery thing was no big deal. He cried with joy and delight and wonder when #2 was born, as well. However, his attitude when we got home was “Meh. You got this.” And he went to work. (He did, however, bring me a righteous sandwich at the hospital.)

      In retrospect- I think he needed my support the second time around, and I didn’t have any to give. I think he freaked out, thinking that we had just bought a house, just had another baby, and that he needed to provide. I was upset at him for essentially dropping us off at home on the way back to work, and I think he was angry that I wasn’t focused on his needs. I spiraled heavily into PPA- which helped nothing. It took us almost a year to find a decent rhythm, but now we’re okay. I think we’ve both learned a lot about what the other needs. They say three time’s a charm, so maybe we’ll both have what we need when we have #3.