My wife Kate and I were married about four years before we thought we were ready to have children. We had discussions like all young married couples about our state of “readiness”, and before I knew it she was showing me a stick with a positive sign … WE ARE PREGNANT!
Well now the fun started. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to do next. My theory was that people have been having babies for thousands of years, so how hard could it be? Fortunately for us (including the baby) my wife was a bit more prepared than I was.
The first major decision was which OB / GYN we should use (expectant parents seem to use the term “we” a lot, but “she” seems to do most of the work); Kate had heard positive things about midwives, so we went to Meet the Midwives night at the local hospital. We hooked up after that. “Midwifery” means with the woman (so a midwife doesn’t necessarily have to be a woman, she just has to be sensitive to the needs of the women she treats). The midwives are personal, friendly, they all seem to love their work and are very knowledgeable about women and pregnancy. In fact, Kate uses midwives to this day for all her gynecological needs.
On the first appointment we attended, the emphasis was on healthy habits for pregnancy. Mom has to take care of herself because the baby will selfishly take all the available nutrients and leave Mom with what is left over. This meant Mom was drinking lots of water, increasing her caloric intake (healthy calories, not cookies, cakes and ice cream), and taking vitamins (she was taking over-the-counter women’s multivitamins, not prescription prenatal vitamins). Kate carried a bottle of water with her everywhere; I never left home without her. Even then, on subsequent dates, the midwife would tell her that she should drink more! I found myself chopping up veggies (carrot sticks, red bell peppers, and green bell peppers were her favorites) for Kate to take to work as snacks and she always packed a homemade lunch to take to work. During pregnancy, weight gain is a good thing; after all, there is a second person growing inside mom who needs to grow big and strong from a two-cell zygote.
On subsequent visits to the midwives we were able to hear the new baby’s heartbeat. That was very exciting, but I also discovered something new. The placenta (the sac that surrounds, protects, and nourishes the baby) also makes a sound that is separate and distinct from the baby’s heartbeat. In these subsequent visits we were able to see Kate’s growth by her weight gain (and she always tried to dress in light clothing so that her weight was as low as possible) and by measuring her fundus (from pubic bone to midsection). upper uterus). – the measure increases as the baby grows). We also discuss various blood tests and genetic tests. We deny most of the optional tests because nothing they said would stop us from wanting this baby. The only “optional” test we agreed to was an HIV test for Kate; if she didn’t get tested then the baby would be screened after birth and we didn’t want to subject our son to that, the day is going to be traumatic enough as it is!
Up to this point, everything was still very abstract to me. I knew that Kate was pregnant and at some point in the future she would be someone’s dad, but it was very difficult for me to feel it. But then came the ultrasound! For those of you who don’t know, ultrasound is probably the best thing about pregnancy. They took us into a small room with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of machinery, turned off the lights, put some jelly on Kate’s belly, waved a magical wish over it, and a picture of my little baby appeared on a television screen. We could see the little heart beating and arms and legs and a head and face … It was incredible. I sat there in the dark and cried.
This seems like a good time to mention the baby’s gender. You will notice that I keep referring to him as “the baby” because at this point we don’t know if we are going to have a boy or a girl and that is how we wanted it. It is one of those great surprises that you can receive in life. And no matter what it was, we would eventually find out. We found that this annoyed a lot of people, those who wanted to buy gifts, those whose curiosity drove them crazy, those who wanted to know what name we were going by … Kate and I agreed that we would not find out (and we were sure to tell the ultrasound technician because she may have been able to tell at this point) which one kept the dialogue and debate over which half was right … is it a boy or a girl? We painted the nursery a neutral green, we chose gender-neutral clothing and patterns, we chose a girl’s name (fabulous) and a boy’s name (toss it), but neither of us ever regrets our decision not to know.
Let’s recap, now that we got pregnant, we decided to go to the midwives, Kate started to eat healthier and drink water like a fish, we have heard and seen our baby, but a healthy pregnancy also includes delivery. That’s where Lamaze came in. I dragged myself through the Lamaze classes (once again, people have been doing this for centuries, how hard can it be?), But I finally relented. Now I’ll be the first to admit that going to Lamaze classes was one of the best things we could have done while pregnant. In the classes we learned what to expect during labor, when to call the midwife, what to do to promote the birthing process and reduce labor pain. And yes, we learned the breathing techniques. Kate felt a bit silly doing the HEHEHE in class, but she learned them all. The classes actually eliminated much of the anxiety that would have been present later in labor and delivery. Lamaze was a great way to ask stupid questions in a relaxed setting and talk to other couples going through the same issues and discover that we are not the only ones with those issues.
After nine months of pregnancy, she had discovered a lot, but now she had to put everything to the test. Now we were ready for the climactic finale. June 26, 2004 had arrived (had just arrived) and Kate was waking me up to the contractions of time. We had an induction scheduled at 8:00 in the morning, so I thought I was just being neurotic, but to please her, I took my watch and started timing. Well, it didn’t take long for her to realize that the contractions lasted about a minute and came every five minutes like clockwork. Time to call the midwife.
I called the emergency service and informed the midwife that my wife was having a baby, but she already knew. He asked to speak to Kate and to speak to her specifically through a contraction. He told Kate to wait until the contractions were 2 to 3 minutes apart and to call again. So we showered, got dressed, packed the car, and started watching reruns of Mad About You. It was definitely not the crazy scene you see on TV or in the movies: no one was boiling water, we did not get towels, no one passed out, I did not forget Kate at the door and left …
Once we got to the hospital they took us to the delivery room and we got “comfortable”. The nursing staff placed monitors on Kate’s belly and told her to try to relax. One thing they didn’t do was hook her up with an IV, another benefit of a midwife versus a traditional doctor. This is where Lamaze’s training came in handy. We knew what to expect, what the monitors were for, and what to do. Kate tried to stay on her feet and not on her back to help with the pain, she successfully used breathing techniques to overcome the painful contractions, I rubbed her back, she took a shower … We had agreed in advance that we were going to the beginning. He didn’t ask for painkillers and that when he asked, we waited 10 minutes to see if he still wanted it. The moment I asked for the medicine because I was in excruciating pain, the midwife said, let’s wait and take a look … 9 cm dilated and completely erased, there was no time for medicine now that the baby was about to arrive.
The midwife allowed Kate to be in whatever position she wanted to push and then began to push. Now I can’t even begin to imagine the pain my wife was feeling right now, but let me give the guys some advice on pain. You will feel bad for your wife and you will want to hold her hand, but DO NOT let her grasp the fingers that surround your wedding ring because that little woman can grab her while the baby is coming out.
Finally, the baby came out and visited us. Now, at 1:19 PM, 9 months after meeting this new way of life, for the first time, we learned what sex the baby was … we had the most beautiful and perfect girl I have ever seen. The midwife took the baby, sticky stuff and all (and there is sticky stuff), and placed it on my wife’s chest – yet another benefit of midwifery practice! As a proud dad, I was allowed to cut the umbilical cord (which was a lot like a plastic tube and much harder to cut than I had imagined) after asking questions and making sure it wouldn’t hurt my little girl.
Before leaving the delivery room, I had told my wife, and this remains true, that I have never been so proud of her as I was at that time. She had done everything perfectly during her pregnancy to achieve this absolutely healthy and fragile little person. And simply put, that’s what this proud husband and eventual father discovered about a healthy pregnancy.