Congratulations Dad to be! You’re expecting the arrival of your child. Now what?
Well, here is a little bit of information about pregnancy, the birth, and returning home from the hospital, from a male perspective.
This is of course based on my own experience. As such, I’m going to refer to my wife throughout, but you can of course substitute the correct term based on your situation.
Step 1: She’s pregnant!
Hopefully, this is a source of joy. It was for me, as we had planned to start a family. If you, like me, were planning for the pregnancy, then it’s time to celebrate. Congratulations!
If your situation is more complicated than mine was, that’s OK too. Trust me, when you see that little one of your’s come out, nothing else will matter. There is nothing better in the world. Be a man, and be part of your child’s life.
Step 2: Preparing for the arrival
Do whatever she wants you to. Seriously. She is going to be growing a human inside of her body for around 40 weeks! This new human will become the most important being in your world. Ever.
So, having said that, help out as much as you can.
You’ll of course need to prepare for the arrival of your child by buying all of the necessary items. This can get really expensive.
You’ll likely have plenty of people around who are willing to offer advice, and likely give you things such as furniture, clothing, and so on. Take it all.
There are of course also a number of books which can help you out through the process such as What to Expect When You’re Expecting and many others.
Your wife will probably have a shower thrown for her, which is also really helpful in gathering some useful items.
You should also have a Beer and Diaper Party. Invite your friends over, have them bring beer, and diapers. Drink the beer with them, keep the diapers for your child. A big help.
Step 3: Holy crap, it’s time!
Midnight, your wife wakes you up, and says “I think my water just broke.” This is not a time to suggest going back to bed for a bit (um, a “friend” of mine did that…). However, if that happens, you do have some time. My wife called the hospital and they said to have a shower and come on in.
Once we arrived at the hospital, we saw the admissions nurse who checked to see how far my wife was dilated. Now fellas, be prepared, this is the first time, of quite a few, that somebody will be “up in your wife’s business” so to speak, so be ready for that, and don’t sweat it. Having said that, if the janitor comes in for a look, that’s probably inappropriate.
We were told to take a little walk, and then to come back for another check. During our walk, we made our families aware of the situation, as they live outside of town, and would need to make arrangements to come on down.
Once we returned, it was go time! The nurse told us that we’d be having a baby that day!
Before I move on to the actual delivery room process, I’d like to pause to compliment the staff at London Health Sciences Centre – Victoria Hospital, because they are awesome!
OK, on to the arrival.
Step 4: The waiting game
There will be some waiting around for things to get going. Just enjoy that time with your wife and have fun.
You’ll have a nurse in the room with you for the majority of the time. They will monitor vitals and whatnot throughout the process.
Now, you should probably have some discussion prior to this point about what your role in the birth will be. I remember thinking beforehand that I would be there to hold a hand and offer comfort and encouragement. I planned on staying up top so to speak, while letting the medical professionals handle everything below.
Your wife will of course also want to decide what she’s planning in regard to having an epidural or not. If it was me, I know I’d be getting one! Once again, I think that’s a decision for your wife to make, and you can add your two cents while being supportive.
My wife was open to the epidural, and in the end, she decided to get it.
From my wife’s experience, and that of some friends, I’ve heard nothing but good things. They found that they were able to relax, be more comfortable, and enjoy the entire process.
Step 5: It’s go time
OK, so things are progressing. In our experience, the nurse did a lot of the work leading up to the delivery. Unexpectedly, she told me to grab a leg. So, my visions of being up at my wife’s head did not come to be, and I’m thankful for that. It was much cooler to be a bigger part of the process. And, if you think of it, given the position your wife will be in while delivering, your going to be near the action regardless.
At one point, the nurse commented that our baby had “quite a head of hair,” so I went for a look. Pretty cool to be able to see your child on their way out.
For my wife, the most difficult part actually was having to hold her breath and push all of that air out during the process.
The nurse will wait until the baby is pretty much ready to come out before calling in the doctors for the actual delivery.
For us, we had a med student with the regular doctor looking over her shoulder.
Before you know it, bam, there’s your baby. It will be an awesome moment, so take it all in.
They will ask you if you want to cut the cord. Prior to the delivery, I did not want to. I figured medical procedures were best left to people with medical degrees. However, during the birth I had decided that I wanted to cut the cord, so it took no convincing to get me to do it. I have heard from some friends that some doctors can be really persistent about having you cut it, so be prepared for some pressure. If you do decide to cut it, it is quite rubbery and does take a little bit of force to get through.
I know that some guys can be squeamish about blood and whatever other fluids are present during the delivery. This stuff doesn’t really bother me, but having said that, I don’t think it’s that big a deal for most guys. You’ll be more caught up in the excitement of meeting your child anyway. Our little girl came out looking like a cheesecake, coated in a substance called vernix.
Step 6: After the birth
Kiss your wife, kiss your baby. Congratulations, you’re parents!
They’ll clean up your baby, weigh and measure them. You’ll both get to hold your baby and enjoy some time as a family.
In our case, we stayed in the delivery room for a while before being moved into the recovery area overnight. We were fortunate to have a private room, which was nice.
At this point, the nurse will show you anything you’re interested in about caring for your child. For example, swaddling, nursing, bathing, etc. The bathing experience was an eye-opener for sure. It’s your child, and to you, they are this delicate, perfect little being. The nurses being quite experienced, know how to move the babies around quickly and efficiently to get the job done. Having said that, the bathing experience was a little crazy for us as it was done so fast.
Soon enough, you’ll be on your way home. You’ll of course need to have the carseat all ready to go before you are allowed to leave the hospital. A nurse will make sure you’ve got the little one secured properly.
Make sure that you plan for how your arrival to your home will go. I know some people who have come home to unexpectedly have a bunch of visitors, which you probably won’t want.
Make arrangements with the people you want to be there. In our case, we just had our parents come to the house afterwards.
I would recommend keeping things quiet in terms of announcing the birth until after you’ve had a bit of a chance to settle in. Most people who have gone through the experience themselves will be understanding.
We were fortunate that my Mother-in-Law was able to stay with us for about half a week during the adjustment to full-fledged parenthood. If you have a good relationship, this is really helpful when you’re just trying to wrap your head around everything.
Step 7: So you’re a Dad, now what?
Well, now it’s time to start getting used to that life. You’ll spend the first while tracking how many times your little one is pooping and peeing to make sure all those systems are working correctly.
We had our baby sleep in a bassinet in the room which worked for us. She slept pretty well in there, but occasionally, needed some alternatives.
Our daughter had a little reclined chair that we could set to vibrate. When she got fussy during the night, my wife or myself would walk around the room with her, and then put her in that chair. I spent more than a couple of nights sleeping on the floor beside her to replace her soother as it fell out. It maybe wasn’t the most comfortable, but it helped her sleep, and was a bit of daddy-daughter bonding time. It also afforded my wife the opportunity to get some better sleep. It’s fair to say that she earned it.
There is some debate about letting your child sleep in your bed at this point. We found our daughter would sleep in a bit longer if we put her in the bed with us in the morning. Of course, you have to be aware not to roll over on them. In our experience, this worked out well. Our daughter is currently 10 months old, and is a great sleeper in her own room, so no negative impact in our case.
In a few days time you’ll take your child in for their first doctor’s appointment and go from there.
So that about sums it up. Try to relax and enjoy the process. When you stop and think about it, it really is remarkable, and in the end, you get to meet the love of your life. How cool is that?
I’ll write more in a future post about life as a Dad during your child’s first year. It’s awesome!