Tom Petty once said that the waiting is the hardest part. But he also said he wanted to guide clown over Valhalla, so who really knows if you should trust him about anything. Still, if you’re a first time father the waiting really is the hardest part. Amping up that wait is the anxiety that accompanies not knowing what’s going to happen on delivery day.
Of course, nobody can really tell you exactly how it’s going to go down. Delivering a kid can occasionally get tricky. But if you have a general idea of what to do and what to expect, you’ll be on point. Take in faith. Take it to the heart.
So It Begins
The first birth issue you and your partner will have to confront is whether or not she’s actually going into labor. Breaking water is certainly a sign, but unlike the movies, it is neither as dramatic or as consistent with the start of labor as you’ve been led to believe. Much like the idea of portly dudes heroically winning over hot chicks.
There’s also the issue of those tricky Braxton Hicks contractions. The are false. They are deceivers. Do not believe their terrible lies.
But if your partner does feel like this thing is starting, there’s no need to rock and roll. Labor can take up to 18 hours for first time births. So sit tight for awhile and let her feel comfortable at home while you take some time gathering up all the crap you’ll need. if you’re having a home birth, call the midwife, which BTW does not mean turning on her favorite Netflix show.
At The Hospital
You’ll go through the rigmarole of checking in and get your delivery room. Oh, quick! Do you have the bag? Well done.
If you have a birth plan, now is the time to make sure everyone that should have a copy actually does has a copy. Much of what’s going to happen will be taken from that plan. For now, it’s time to get your partner into a gown and wait. Remind you of prom?
Things You Can Do While Waiting
- Get what she wants from the snack area or cafeteria.
- Feed her ice chips
- Call family and update social media
- Let her squeeze the living shit out of your hand during contractions
- Make sure phones and cameras are charged to get post-birth pictures
- Double check the playlist
- Walk with her if she’s down with it
- Give massages in achey places
- The Ramp Up
As your partner’s contractions start to arrive closer together, nurses will be in and out. There will be a good deal of activity. If they’re ever doing something that you don’t understand, ask them to explain what’s happening.
For the most part the medical folks will be monitoring the baby’s heartbeat and checking on the dilation of your partner’s cervix. They may be able to give you a guesstimate of when things are going to happen, but be flexible and patient. Above all else be calm.
The obstetricians and nurses will likely be very conscious of your birth plan and try to follow it as best they can. But there are circumstances where they may need to deviate. That said, enforce the birth plan when it’s not being deviated from for health and safety reasons. You are her advocate. And never give ground if they question the choice of birthing to Akon.
At some point the medical staff will set up a cart. This will include some standard medical implements like basins and clamps as well as towels and swaddling cloths. They will also set up bright lights that will illuminate your partner during birth.
As go time approaches position yourself close to you partner but out of the way of personnel. They can help you figure out where to stand if you feel at a loss. Your job is now to hang in and practice whatever you learned during your birth classes (which you totally took, right?).
Some Things That Might Surprise You During The Birth
- Your Partner’s Emotions: She might be super serene or she might say super mean things to you. Take it in stride.
- She’ll Probably Poop: Don’t say anything about it. Ever.
- The Noises: They could be loud and agonizing and like nothing you’ve ever heard. You’re response? Always: “You’re doing so good. I’m so proud of you.”
- The Mess: Aside from the poop, you’ll see some fluids and mucus and a placenta. Hang in there.
- Your Emotions: When you see your kid for the first time, just go ahead and cry if you need to.
Take the time you need to say hello to your kid and love your partner. Help her get comfortable if she’s nursing immediately.
At some point your kid will be weighed and given their first bath. You are usually allowed to be as much a part of this as you want. Get in there buddy. This is where the journey begins.
The remaining time in the hospital will include some quick tests on your kid to make sure their doing well. And the nurses will give you a car seat challenge to make sure you’re not taking them home in a paper bag.
It will probably be a little over 24 hours after birth that you’ll be discharged. And once you’re out the door you 2 are on your own. So make sure you see everyone you need to see and ask all of the questions. You know, like, “How the hell do we keep it alive?”
And now that you know how things are probably going to go down. Maybe the waiting won’t be so hard. Or maybe it will, which would be a real heartbreaker.