There is an old axiom: In a bacon and eggs breakfast, the chicken is involved while the pig is committed. That pretty well sums up pregnancy and the birth experience for fathers and mothers. The father is involved while the mother is committed. It’s what comes after that changes everything.
I was present for the birth for our three children and each time my sweetheart was pregnant, I was an anxious mess. Don’t get me wrong. I was thrilled to have each one on the way. However, I was anxious about all the variables that come with a pregnancy, and even more anxious about my inability to influence them.
It’s a fact of life – and new life. The father cannot be as engaged in the process as the mother. As life is growing in her, initially he can only experience it vicariously. It wasn’t until our baby started moving that I knew it was there.
My sweetheart was committed. She had the morning-afternoon-evening sickness. She had cravings for French fries and ketchup. She sensed her body changing shape. She gave birth to three new babies.
I was involved with each pregnancy, though. I attended the pre-natal classes. I was there for every doctor’s visit. But since routine ultrasounds were not available then, I only heard the baby’s heartbeat through the obstetrician’s special stethoscope.
During childbirth, I was by her side helping her breathe through the contractions. As they became more intense, I held her hand and encouraged her.
At the birth of our first son, I was scared to watch. I didn’t know what was happening and concentrated on helping my sweetheart. Two kids later, when our third child was born, I was monitoring the birth and coaching her through it; the doc was there to catch the baby.
That final time, I witnessed the miracle of life happen. My son took his first breath and started crying. Oxygen filled his lungs and supplied his body. I saw him “pink up.” It was a wonder of nature and the point at which our newborn was truly alive as a human being. No longer anxious, I was filled with awe, love, wonder and happiness all at the same time.
After each birth, we cuddled as a family. The baby’s eyes scanned our faces, imprinting us. This is when I was no longer involved. I was committed to caring for and raising our child.