Daddy in the Delivery Room?

September 16, 2020

My generation was the first allowing fathers in the delivery room. When I gave birth to my kids, it was all the rage. Women were happy to flaunt the suffering endured while giving birth. It was all about equality. It was high time men realized what women were going through and sharing the experience. It was also thought that the dads would bond with baby better. Men that did indeed assist with the births were heroes.

When it was time to give birth to my first child, I did not give explicit directives as to allow or refuse access to the father during delivery. I did not know what to expect. My mother was rather hush about what was in store for me. She just said that each childbirth is different.

Not knowing what to expect, I left it to fate.

When labor started, my husband was not with me. He made it to the hospital and the delivery room as I was readied for the epidural injection. At that time, the needle used was a scary thing. Long and corkscrew shaped.

My husband turned green when he saw that thing. He swallowed hard, somewhat managed to hold my shoulders down to facilitate the injection, went from green to grey, wobbled on his feet, and was politely sent home by the staff after I mentioned that I needed My medical staff to attend to Me, not a husband that may pass out shortly.

When I came back home with my fresh new baby in my arm, I was glowing with the mystic of childbirth. I went from maiden to mother. My husband saw me as this goddess that went through hell and not only survived but brought forth that new life that he helped create to boost.

I liked it. A lot! I decided then and there that should we have other children, there was no way he would ever be allowed to witness the delivery.

And let us face it, the delivery part was awful! I never felt so out of control. My body somehow knew what to do while my mind was watching with horror. The pain was unbearable. The contractions, a nightmare. Forceps were needed at the end. When baby girl was out, when I thought it was finally over, came the afterbirth, the blood, the grime, the shakes.  

Who needs a witness to that? A witness that will look at you for years and may remember it all while you work hard to forget? I was glad my husband had been sent home.

Births never happen solo. Two more babies were born in our social group at the time. Both fathers witnessed the birth of their child.

A year later, one couple divorced. The father left the house. He said that he did not know what to expect when he agreed to help his wife during delivery, and he had not been prepared for what he saw. In his words, the birth had been disgusting. Too much blood. Too much pain and screaming. The baby covered in horrible patches of biological matter of some kind was revolting to him. He could not bond with the baby. He thought his wife was a reproductive machine. He copped by detaching from his family.

It took the other couple countless hours of counseling and years for them to get back to a normal and active life in the bedroom. The husband refused to witness the births of their two younger children.

When my daughter was pregnant with her first child, I told her these stories. Both mine and my friends’. Her fiancé wanted to be part of the birth. She agreed. Her fiancé left her and the baby nine months after the birth. Years later he mentioned, in front of my daughter’s new beau, that witnessing a birth was a sure way to kill any desire for the mother.

My daughter refused that the father of her second child be present at the birth of their child. He was fragile enough as to be disgusted by bloody scenes when watching a show called “Vampire Diaries”. She did not believe he could take the birth. He did not believe he could take the birth. Instead, she asked me to be present, and I gladly accepted the responsibility.

Times change. What was a simple option when I gave birth seemed like it was the norm when it was my daughter’s turn. The father was expected to be present. The nurses were adamant that He should be there, not me. They looked at us like we were monsters to refuse Him to experience the beauty of His child’s birth.

My daughter felt pressured, but her mind was set. On my end, I could not believe the gall of these nurses. Who were they to give lessons on such an intimate and delicate matter? Were they the ones that may have to pay the consequences should the father be too fragile to cope with the experience?

Shouldn’t this decision be taken by both parents, after discussing it thoroughly? Maybe a very graphic video could be shown to the expecting father? If he cannot go through watching another woman suffer, how will he cope with his own’s suffering?

Does it make a man less than a man if he does not believe he can go through this? I do not think so. Women, by necessity, are equipped to deal with childbirth. Men are not. It was understood by all for millennia. A new fad does not change a simple fact.

Should a young mother feel pressured by her family, her friends, the medical personnel to accept the father to be in the delivery room? The young mother should think very seriously about it. Is she willing to really strip it all? Is she willing to be at her weaker, most animalistic self in front of the man she wants to desire her? Is she willing to lose all her glamour, mystery, appeal? That is a decision a woman should make on her own accord.

Should a young father feel pressured by his family, his friends, the medical personnel to witness the birth of his child? That young father knows himself better than anyone knows him. Can he go through it? Is he ready for it? Will it change the way he looks at the woman he loves? Will he resent the baby for the pain inflected during the process?

I am sure that the father in the delivery room works for some. In my experience, I did not see much of that.

I am old-fashioned after all. I still love the image of the father pacing, worried sick, in the waiting area. Praying for everything to go well. Chewing on his nails. Having the family trickling in. Any news yet?

I love the image of the doctor coming out and inviting him in.

I love the image of mother and child, all cleaned up, no blood in sight, baby in mother’s arms, a tired smile on her face when she sees daddy enter the room.

I love the image of daddy holding as best he can the tears threatening to spill over at the sight of this glorious duo. The woman he loves and gave him the greatest gift. The brand-new child he made resting on her mother’s breast.

Katrin L.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *