Thursday, February 10, 2011

Being a Birth Partner

Being a birth partner is more than what you just read in a book.

She started having contractions. This was labor. I drove Jen to the hospital on the morning of December 16th, 2010, not with a panicked craze, but with an excited nervousness. We made our way up to the maternity floor of the hospital ("it's on the 3rd floor because you leave with three people" was a common mnemonic device we heard). As we entered our delivery room in the very early morning, we noticed the complete darkness that loomed outside our window.

Then, as Jen and I waited in silence for each succeeding contraction, I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to finish reading my book about how to be a good birth partner for my pregnant wife. Was I prepared enough? Would I fail as her support? Would our memory of Nolan's birth be Daddy screwing up?

Instead of worrying about it, I decided to just take it one step at a time.

"Do you want anything to eat?" I asked her as we put down our bags.

"No thanks," she replied. "Not really hungry."

"Okay. How about some music?" I suggested.

"That sounds good. You know what I want to listen to."

I pulled out my laptop and turned on Christmas music as we started to settle into our room. From that point onward, I realized that preparing to be my wife's birth partner started long ago. It started when our relationship began. All it took was getting to know her, what her needs are, loving her, and being by her side throughout labor. And...trying my best not to annoy her...after all, she's in enough pain already.