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A Husband’s and Eventual Father’s Discoveries Through a Healthy Pregnancy
My wife, Kate, and I were married about four years before we thought we were ready to have children. We had a discussion like any young couple does about the state of “preparation”, and before I knew it, he was showing me a little tree with a nice sign on it…we were PREGNANT!
Well the fun begins. To be honest, I don’t know what to do next. My theory is that people have been having children for 1000 years, so how hard is it? Fortunately, we (including the children) were a little more prepared than I, my husband.
The first big decision is which OBGYN we should use (pregnant parents seem to use the word “we”, but “he” seems to do most of the work); Kate had heard good things about midwives, so we went to a Meet the Midwives night at a local hospital. We hit it off after that. The word “midwife” is associated with women (so midwives don’t have to be women but they have to be sensitive to the needs of the women they care for). The midwives are very personable, friendly, they all seem to love their jobs, and are very knowledgeable about women and pregnancy. In fact, Kate uses the midwife to this day for all her needs.
When we first went, healthy habits for pregnancy were emphasized. Mom has to take care of herself because the baby will take all the nutrients available and leave the rest to Mom. That means mommy is drinking lots of water, increasing her caloric intake (healthy calories, not cookies, cakes, ice cream), and taking vitamins (she’s taking an overpriced women’s multivitamin, not prescription prenatal vitamins ). Kate carried a water bottle with her everywhere – she never left home without it. Even during subsequent appointments, the midwife told her she should drink more! I found myself cutting up vegetables (carrots, red peppers and green peppers are her favorites) for Kate to take to work as a snack and she always makes a homemade lunch for her to work. During pregnancy, gaining weight is a good thing; After all, there is a second person growing inside the mother who needs to grow big and strong from the two-celled zygote.
When we later visited the midwife, we could hear the baby’s heartbeat! It was exciting, but I also discovered something new. The placenta (the sac that surrounds, protects and nourishes the baby) makes a distinct and unique sound as its heart beats. On these later visits, we saw Kate’s weight gain (and she tried to dress as easily as possible to keep her weight as low as possible) and her bottom measurements (from her pubic bone to to the top of the uterus – measurements increase as the baby grows). We also talked about blood tests and genetic testing. We refused most of the possible tests because there was nothing they said that would stop us from wanting this baby. The only “optional” test we agreed on was an HIV test for Kate; if he didn’t test the baby will be tested after birth and we don’t want to deprive our baby of that – the day will be a disaster!
Up until that moment, everything had made no sense to me. I knew that Kate was pregnant and that in the future I would be a Dad, but it was hard for me to realize it. But here comes the ultrasound! For those who don’t know, ultrasounds are probably the most exciting thing about pregnancy. They took us into a small room with a hundred thousand dollar machine, turned off the lights, put jelly on Kate’s stomach, waved a spell over her, and flashed the image of my little boy! We saw the little beating heart and the hands and feet and the head and the face… It was amazing. I sat in the dark and cried.
This seems like a good time to talk about the child’s sexuality. You’ll notice I keep calling it “baby” because at this point we don’t know if we’re having a boy or a girl and that’s the way we wanted it. This is one of the greatest miracles you can do in life. And whatever it is, we’ll find out eventually. We saw that it bothered a lot of people – those who wanted to buy gifts, those who drove themselves crazy with curiosity, those who wanted to know what name we would go by… Kate and I agreed that we would not see (( and of course said (we asked the ultrasound technician because he might have been able to tell at that point) which kept the discussions and debates about which half would be… male or female? We painted the nursery a neutral green, chose clothes and a gender-neutral pattern, one girl’s name (awesome) and one boy’s name were taken, but none of us regretted our uninformed decision.
Let’s see we are pregnant now, we decided to go with the midwife, Kate started eating healthy food and drinking water like a fish, hearing and seeing the baby, but a healthy pregnancy involves of childbirth. This is where Lamaze comes in. I dragged my feet a bit with the Lamaze class (after all, people have been doing it for centuries, is it that hard?), but finally gave in. I will be the first to admit. but going to a Lamaze class was one of the best things we could have done during our pregnancy. In the class we learned what to expect during childbirth, when to call the midwife, what to do to promote the birth process, and to reduce the pain of childbirth. And yes, we learned the breathing technique. Kate felt silly doing the LAUGH in class, but she learned it all. The class really took away most of the anxiety that I may have had later during labor and delivery. Lamaze is a great way to ask silly questions in a relaxed atmosphere and talk to other couples going through the same issues and see that we are not the only ones with these issues.
After nine months of pregnancy, I have seen many things, but now I have to try them all. We are now ready for the weather finish. June 26, 2004 came (just arrived) and Kate woke me up with contractions. We had a scheduled induction at 8:00am so I thought he was just being neurotic, but to humor him I got the watch and started the period. It didn’t take long to realize that the contractions were lasting about a minute and coming every five minutes like clockwork! Time to call the midwife.
I called 911 and told the midwife that my wife was having a baby, but she already knew. He asked to speak to Kate, and spoke to her privately through contractions. She told me to wait about 2 to 3 minutes between contractions and called again. So we showered, got dressed, loaded up the car, and started watching Mad About You reruns. It’s definitely not the crazy scene you see on TV or in the movies – no one boiled water, we didn’t get towels, no one passed out, I didn’t forget Kate at the door and throw …
When we got to the hospital, we were shown to the delivery room and got “comfortable”. The nursing staff strapped a monitor to Kate’s abdomen and told her to try to relax. One thing they didn’t do was put the iv in her – another advantage of a midwife versus a traditional medical doctor. Nowadays, Lamaze training is very useful. We know what to expect, what to monitor and what to do. Kate tried to stay on her feet instead of on her back to help with her pain, she successfully used breathing techniques to get rid of the painful contractions, I rubbed her back, she bathed. .. We have agreed before that we. didn’t ask for pain meds at first and when she asked for it she would wait 10 minutes to see if she still wanted it. When I asked for medication for her severe pain the midwife said wait and see… 9cm dilated and completely effaced – no time to treat the baby now.
The midwife allowed Kate to push wherever she wanted and then she started pushing. Now I can’t even imagine the pain my husband was in at that time, but let me give some pain advice to the men out there. You’ll be mean to your wife and want to hold her hand, but DON’T let her grab her finger around the wedding ring because that little woman can seal death as soon as the baby comes out!
Eventually the baby came out and visited us. Now – at 1:19 pm, 9 months after we were introduced to this new life form – we found out the sex of the baby for the first time… we had the most beautiful and perfect daughter I have ever seen. The midwife scooped the baby up, goop and all (and there is goop), and placed her on my husband’s right breast – another perk of transfusions! As a proud papa, I was allowed to cut the umbilical cord (which was like a plastic tube and was harder than I thought) after I asked and made sure it didn’t hurt my little girl.
Before we left the delivery room, I told my husband, and it’s still true, that I’ve never been more proud of him than I was at that moment. She did everything perfectly in her pregnancy to make this healthy and fragile little person. And in a nutshell, that’s what this proud husband and father finds out about a healthy pregnancy.
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