There are two things I know about birth. The first is that it is and always will be a woman’s world. The second is that I will never have any idea what women go through when they deliver a baby. January 2, 2011, was the most amazing day of my life. It trumps my wedding, meeting my wife, discovering Stevie Ray Vaughn and it even trumps watching Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers play three hours of music I can sing every word to. It was the day my wife and I had a nine-hour hug.
It started at 9 a.m. My wife went into labor while we were both at work. I left work after finishing up a call and we drove the 30-minute drive home, where we had planned a home birth. Now that sounds nice and calm and peaceful. She was having contractions every two minutes for 30 seconds each, and I was driving 100 miles per hour hoping that a cop would pull me over just so that I could say, “Officer I am sorry, but my wife is having a baby.”
Once we got home I realized that the midwife’s instructions to set the birth pool up at 38 weeks was not the best of advice, considering my wife was currently at 37 weeks and the pool wasn’t set-up yet. So once the midwife arrived she coached Lisa through the contractions while I frantically worked to set this pool up. Everything went together great until I started emptying the hot water heater into the pool. We got about 3 inches of hot water when the water heater ran cold. Fail!
The Boy Scouts who are reading this are thinking, “Way to be prepared!” OurmMidwife let me coach Lisa while she prepared about 40 pots of hot water on the stove. Finally we had enough water so that Lisa could get some relief from the warm water. We spent three hours prepping the pool and Lisa spent about one hour in it. I don’t dare judge though, as far as I was concerned she could labor anywhere she wanted.
After nine hours at home our son was born right in the middle of my bed. He was pink, breathing, and had ten fingers and ten toes. Everything a father wants to see in his newly born child. We had a wonderful family experience and shared something that I think is more special than anything my wife and I have ever shared: We shared a nine-hour hug. Most couples I’ve met have not had such a pleasure, for this is not an ordinary hug. I didn’t do anything during this hug other than hug, and tell my wife she is the most amazing woman in the world.
Here I am, trained to save lives, catch babies, bring people back from the dead, and during this birth I was reduced to a post my wife rested on for support. It was there that I realized the most important part of being a husband. My wife doesn’t need my intelligence, humor, money spending skills, attitude or looks to get by in the world. All she needed of me during the most intense marathon of physical and emotional work she had ever done was a post to hold her up and say sweet things to her. And that I did, holding her for nine straight hours.
I tell this story not to convince you that you can only have a great birth story if it happens at home. That is far from the truth. There is no perfect place to have a baby. We chose our home because my wife wanted to labor at home in her space. There are many women who want to be in the hospital because it makes them feel safe and makes them calm. There is nothing wrong with that. I feel the most important thing a woman can do to prepare for a great birth is to take ownership of the whole experience. That can mean anything. It’ your body and your birth,and you should be proud that you accomplished this amazing task of growing a baby inside your body and then entering the world of parenthood.
I hope to open some eyes and change some minds about those who choose to home birth. I am not an expert on midwives or home birth, but rather one father whose wife chose to deliver at home. I plan on writing some blogs for husbands to let them know how to support their wife during their labor and delivery. My intent is to give advice that carries over to all births, not just home births. I have many midwife friends who are willing and able to write for this blog. I plan on using them to get out the information that women and families need to know in order to make an educated decision.
I have a favorite quote: If you don’t know your options … then you don’t have any.
I look forward to continuing this conversation. Thanks for reading.