Alright first time dads. It has become the norm for fathers to be in the delivery room. Some fathers eagerly await the big moment, that final push. Others are unsure. Then there are some who break into a cold sweat just thinking about the untold amounts of blood, gore and goo. The point of this blog is to share my experience to give you an idea of what is to come. Andrea has agreed to everything that is being shared. We are not holding anything back. It is for this reason that this post has a PG-13 rating.
When describing the delivery I will rate each moment on a scale of 1-10. Before we get started I think it would be best for me to describe my constitution handling blood, goo and tense situations. This should help put my reactions into perspective.
Tense situations- emergencies
I feel like I am above average when it comes to keeping calm. I am not super man, but I feel like I can continue to stay calm. I deal with tense situations quite frequently at work, the worst being breaking up fights between patients. Fights for me often include chairs, pencils and books as weapons. During this time I can remain calm and make the right decisions.
Goo- snot, mucus, vomit, amniotic fluid etc
I can tolerate goo so long as it doesn’t get on me. If a loved one’s goo gets on me I will have only a minor reaction. I did have a patient spit on my neck once… that was a near freak out.
Blood– any sight of blood
The sight of blood does not bother me.
The Intensity Scale
Hopefully with this description I can put into perspective my ratings. I will rate each category; tension, goo, blood and gore on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being a walk in the park and 10 being intense enough for me to black out.
The Delivery Room
Before the epidural
Items of concern: needles, tension (5) bodily fluids Goo (6), blood (6), feeling of helplessness tension (7)
If you have a fear of needles then go ahead and brace yourself at the get-go. Andrea had an IV put in within minutes of walking into her room. Since Andrea was being induced the nurse started her on Cervidil. This just helps soften things up. Only thing to mention is that it was not administered through the IV like I thought. It is drug that dissolves in an applicator like a tampon. Several hours later Andrea started her Oxytocin which begins labor. This drug just went in through her IV, so nothing new. After a couple of hours her doctor came and broke her water. This was a (6) on the goo factor. There was a significant gush of what looked like chicken broth. I’d say enough to fit in a Campbell’s can.
The worst part of this phase was the feeling of helplessness. There was very little I could do to help Andrea as she grew more uncomfortable. Guys are fixers, but there isn’t much you can do to help the situation. This is why I gave the tension rating a (7). Another thing to keep in mind before the delivery is that the nurses and doctors will frequently check your wife’s cervix for dilation. This wasn’t a big deal for us, just be prepared.
Items of concern: blood (5) tension (7)
Most hospitals will ask the husband to stand in front of their wife during the procedure. I recommend this if you are on the squeamish side. We are talking about some big needles, and if you get nervous, your wife will get nervous too. If you do happen to catch the procedure (it is pretty cool) expect a huge needle being driven in the center of your wife’s back with a little blood to follow. Andrea wanted me to help hold her still, so I didn’t get to see much. Not so much blood and goo, but it can be intense. I recommend asking your wife what she needs from you during this time. Chances are that she might be nervous and will want you to try to comfort her, not gawk at the ungodly needle.
Items of concern: Blood (8), bodily fluids (7) tension (6)
I gave the delivery a blood rating of (8) because this was an element of surprise. I had been forewarned that there would be a little bit of blood during the birth, but it is when the placenta comes out afterwards that can get really bloody. There was much truth in this, but I was still caught off guard. I really want to be a strong advocate for watching your child being born and I really think most dads can handle it. However, the placenta is not for everyone. It will vary from one birth to the next, but for Andrea if I hadn’t seen the placenta I would have given just the delivery a blood rating of (6). The placenta is what bumps it up to a level (8). This could easily be a (9) for some guys maybe even a (10).
I was a little hesitant when they asked if I wanted to see, because I new there would be a lot of blood. Somehow my eyes were drawn to it before I had a chance to decide if I wanted to see it or not. I am glad I did. It was fascinating to see the organ that had sustained my son’s life for the past 39 weeks. Be warned! It is bloody and it is nowhere near as cute as the baby that came out just moments before. If you have any doubts I would pass, because nothing would be worse than to blackout when your child is just minutes old. Remember not to lock your knees!
The bodily fluids rating is a (7). I expected much more amniotic fluid, but it was about like a coffee mug amount that squirted around his head once he came out . (This too can vary drastically from birth to birth) Owen came out a little chunky. They all do. He was speckled with a few drops of blood and looked as if he had been dipped in sticky cottage cheese. If you are interested in seeing a picture of what they look at birth click here. I cut the cord myself which I would give a blood and tension rating of about 4, because it was so cool to me. The final thing to consider is that your wife may need some stitches. This can be potentially stressful and the blood rating can rise depending on the severity of the tears. Again this is something that varies from birth to birth, but be prepared. It is one thing to see blood from a placenta, but it can be more difficult for some husbands to see when the blood comes from an injury.
I really hope this can give you an idea of what to expect in the delivery room. Birth is a rite of passage for everyone, not just mommy and baby. I really doubt it would be something you regret if you manage to witness it. Talk about a worship experience! Don’t miss out on one of the greatest miracles and defining moments of your life if you can help it.