My father knew exactly what to do the day I was born. He sat in the waiting room watching TV. He was under strict instructions to be there I must add. The Doctor asked him to watch the final episode of Colditz, and later exchange details of the show for news of his child.
It’s not quite as easy as that anymore. You’re supposed to be in the room for a start. And not the room with the telly either. A friend of mine asked his father what he was doing when he was born. “I think I was in Amsterdam at the time.” was the reply. Hmmm…
If I’d been in Amsterdam when any of our kids had been born, I think I’d have been better off staying there, opening up a pancake shop and getting on with it.
At the risk of sounding ridiculous, it ain’t easy giving birth as a man these days. Now wait, ladies, if you’re still reading after that last statement bear with me, allow me to explain.
We learn ‘who’ to be from our parents. We learn by watching what they do, what they say and the way they react to situations. And men having children today, learned how to be a man by watching their fathers, who, were probably in Amsterdam while their children were born, remember…?
It’s a different world nowadays and the traditional gender roles are changing. That’s fine. Most blokes are OK with that, it’s just that we have to make it up as we go. We’ve had nobody to learn from, no role models to look up to in that respect. So give us a break as we try to find our way.
Another aspect that doesn’t play favorably for us, is that we don’t really talk about this kind of stuff very much. So when one of us maybe learns something useful, we keep it to ourselves. Now I’m no role model, and I’m certainly no expert. However, I’ve been ‘in the room’ twice now – and if you’ve got that ahead of you, I thought I might offer up a couple of pointers, that you might find useful on the day.
And trust me if you’re going to be in that room, being useful is exactly what you want. Otherwise you’ll feel like a total spare part. And realistically this is the birth of your child. What could possibly be more important than that.
If I had to go back and do it all again, this is what I would tell myself on the approach to childbirth.
Keep an open mind.
If you can maintain an open mind, and a positive attitude to the whole event – you’ll end up not just getting through it, but actually coming out the other side having gained something from the experience –apart from a child that is…
Depending on how the birth goes it might take you a while to look back on it in that way, but realistically, it is an amazing experience. And viewing it as that, as opposed to something that simply has to be endured – is a mind shift that might be worth thinking about.
Make a birth plan.
This should be easy. Blokes are good at this kind of shit. A birth plan is where you figure out in advance what you’re going to do about drugs. Yes or no? What type? And when the little one arrives, what’s the plan then? If you don’t have an idea set in your minds, the hospital will just take over with whatever their standard procedures are. Which could very well be fine, but, wouldn’t you rather know in advance, and make up your own mind?
Google ‘birth plan’ and you can take it from there.
Don’t be afraid to be involved.
I know it sounds daft, but, don’t be afraid to be an active participant in what’s going on. You may need to step-up as an advocate for your good lady’s wishes. Not all of the time, but some of the time she’s going to be pretty out of it, and you may need to be the person who talks to the midwife or the Doctor on her behalf. The more you know in advance, the more confident you’ll be in taking on that role.
Prepare your supplies.
Once again, easy for a bloke. Just imagine you’re about to run an ultra marathon (because who knows it may end up actually being like that) and then take whatever you think you would need to get you through that kind of activity. So take power bars, energy drinks, home made (and then frozen) stews and soups. Whatever you think could sustain the both of you throughout a potentially lengthy ordeal. Now hopefully you wont need any of this, but it’s better to have it and not need it, than be left wanting.
So there you go.
No, of course not, you never are. But we all manage. We all get there.
Just remember you’re there to try and help out the person that you love.
And so long as you do that, in whatever way she wants you to, you’re sorted.