All business trips had been completed or scheduled around D-day and the hospital bag had finally been packed. We were as ready as is possible when juggling work and a toddler. But in London nowhere is close. On a good day it takes DD well over an hour to get home, and there is always the looming threat of tube delays or bad traffic. So even the most meticulous planning and discussions surrounding every possible scenario could not guarantee DD would make it to the hospital in time to witness the birth of his second child. And this was something we were both worried about, in fact we would have been devastated if he wasn't there for as much of the labour as possible. So with a recent study concluding it isn't always a good thing for a partner to be present during childbirth I started thinking about why it was so important for me personally that mine was by my side.
Firstly it takes two to tango. So while us women are tasked with the responsibility of carrying the precious package around for nine months and the unenviable job of pushing him or her out into the world the least they can do is wait on us hand and foot while we do so. Whether it is rubbing our pork chops of feet at the end of a long, bloated day. Dealing with our cravings or putting up with our hormonal, irrational moments. Maybe it's assuring us we are "all bump" when really we are anything but. There are things that can help ease the pressures physically and emotionally and I believe making sure those needs are met are a partners responsibility.
The same goes during the childbirth itself. Giving birth is exhausting, unpredictable, emotional, painful and at times really scary. So they might not be able to take the pain away, but they can give us their hand to be crushed, rub our backs for hours on end or assure us we can do it when we honestly feel like we can't. How can support in any shape or form be a bad thing?
When asked what it was like watching his wife give birth the musician Robbie Williams said it was like watching his favourite pub burn down. While the comment was obviously meant as an amusing observation I have heard stories of men that have found childbirth a harrowing, distressing and life changing experience. I have a bit of sympathy for them, I'm sure watching your partner go through such a painful thing can be scary. But then again if the birth isn't a straightforward, pleasant experience then you can bet that as traumatic as it was for the man, it was 100 times more so for the women. So when it comes to this side of things I'm sorry but I have to say the phrase 'Man up' could not be more appropriate.
They probably do feel helpless with everything taken out of their control, but childbirth is out of anyone's control, and like DD said to me when I exclaimed that I didn't think I could finish the job, you have to, there's no choice. The baby has to come out and I can promise that like women report that the pain is forgotten when the baby arrives I'm sure the same can be said for the fathers.
But one of the main reasons I wanted him there was that I wanted him to see what I had to go through. You don't get a medal for having a baby, but at the very least you should be able to get some heavy duty respect and praise from your other half. I wanted him to see how brave his wife is, how tough and how despite what he might have thought how high my pain threshold really is. I wanted him to appreciate what I had to go through to bring this baby into our family. To fully appreciate the consequences of his actions! I think it helps in the days following for the man to have seen first hand how exhausting the process is so that they make sure they step up and do as much as possible after the birth. Same as you want people cheering at the finish line of a marathon, it's nice to have your biggest supporter in life witness your finest moment.
Lastly I wanted my husband to be there for his sake. I wanted him to be one of the first people to meet his son or daughter. To witness their first breath, first cry and marvel in all their, squishy, gooey gorgeousness. I wanted us to have that first moment as a family. A moment that we could look back and remember whenever times were tough, during the sleepless nights and the long tiring days...