PSA: I’m going to describe the experience from my end, and sure it may sound rough and tiring. Just remember your partner is experiencing something far worse, and they need you.
The first tip I can give you is to be prepared. My wife and I took our hospital bags to every appointment the last 4 weeks of her pregnancy, and boy did it pay off. Upon arrival of our last appointment they did the normal and we were waiting on the nurse. She came in and took my Wife’s blood pressure and it was high (150/XX) and within minutes she was in a wheelchair and taken to Labor and Delivery. There was no chance to discuss it, high blood pressure is a risk to the mother and to baby, so Baby day is now today!
Now the wait begins…
By this point most parents to be have read how Labor goes, they check your dilation and your goal is 10 cm dilated so you can try and deliver your healthy baby. However, getting to 10 cm may not be as easy going as you’d like. We got induced at 8:45 A.M. My wife went into hard labor around 11 A.M. and progressed somewhat quickly to 5cm from barely dilated or less than 1cm. When she hit 5cm the contractions started to hit her HARD. We are talking full body shaking, unable to speak, eyes roll back a little, OMG what is happening to my wife hard. Let me tell you, watching someone you love go through labor, is not easy on the heart. This strong, beautiful woman labored for over 9 hours without a single drug, and it was amazing. The amount of pain she was willing to put herself through to avoid “potentially” passing drugs onto the baby was incredible. She loved this child more than I could fathom and she wasn’t even here yet.
So here we are, hour 10 or so. Wife is ready to pass out from pain/exhaustion. I’m sitting next to her like a useless sack of nothingness. Unable to help her or give her any relief. She looks me in the eye and says “I don’t know how much longer I can make it”. Now, this is where preparation comes in. HAVE A CONVERSATION. Please discuss your options prior to the big day. Is the epidural an option? Would you like to try pain management through a pain killer? Just know your choices and what your partner wants. Luckily in our situation we had discussed it. After she said those words to me. I responded: “I will get the doctor; we can discuss your pain options with them”. I went and found our Midwife, and told her that my wife is unable to bear the pain anymore and I believe she would like her epidural, and then I asked her to speak to my wife. They should be more than supportive to help in any way they can.
After the Epidural.
I came back into the room, and wow. There she was, my amazing wife SMILING! She was living the life, and was back to the loving woman I know. She was anxiously waiting for this new baby with me and the burden had been lifted from both of us. I wasn’t constantly hovering making sure she was ok; she wasn’t writhing in pain. We were able to have casual conversation from then on, I even pulled out my laptop and watched Netflix for a few! Modern medicine is a wonderful thing, please remember that you have the option to use it.
So after my wife relaxed she began to progress nicely, almost a cm an hour from that point. So here we are at 2:15 A.M. she has been in labor for 15 hours at this point (epidural still going strong). The nurse checks her and boom, baby has dropped and she is 10 cm dilated. It is time for a “practice push” I perk up and take a look at my wife, still smiling and realize it’s game time. They have you push for 10 seconds each in sets of 3, on every contraction. After the first 3 pushes, the nurse stops and says: “it’s baby time, I need the midwife” and leaves the room. We had our last few moments as non-parents together and we were ready. They wheel in a bunch of gear so don’t let that throw you off. In comes the two nurses and the midwife, and everything gets a little more real. My wife begins pushing. After the 4 set of pushing, I couldn’t believe it! My wife had given birth to the most beautiful baby girl I could imagine. She was perfect in every way. At 2:38 A.M. I became a father.
At this point if the baby is healthy and everything is well, they turn all their focus towards your partner. Her body has gone through a traumatic experience and they need to make sure she is doing well. I spent the next hour hovering, asking if everything was ok every 30 seconds. They assured me all was well and that she was going to be just fine. It wasn’t until the moved us to our actual recovery room (where you stay with baby and all your visitors come) that I actually calmed down and believed them. Once there, parenting begins. They basically leave you with your new baby and say good luck! They come in periodically to make sure baby/mom haven’t developed any new ailments, but other than that ta-dah you are now responsible for another human being’s life! Congrats!