Having a baby is a difficult and painful time for a man. In fact I would be as bold to say it is harder for the man then it is for the woman. Now a few of you might have blinked at the previous statement, but it is true. In this age of women’s emancipation and freedom they get all the sympathy, but I will tell you the birthing process is just as, if not harder, for a man.
Luckily I can speak with first hand knowledge on this subject as we have just had our second child. Therefore the pain, from a man’s point of view, is still very raw with me and is the reason I would like to share it with you.
The first difficult moment came for me and about 6:35 on Thursday evening. This was about 6 hours before our boy was finally born. For some reason we both knew the baby was going to come that night. I had arrived home early and Rachel had said she had started to have slight contractions.
Anyway dinner had just been completed and I had finished my duties as dishwasher. I was making my way through the lounge with my plate of Jelly Tip ice cream, three scoops with extra chocolate sauce, when I accidently kicked the footrest with my foot. The pain in my little toe was utterly excruciating and my shoulder hurt as well as I had to land on it awkwardly to save my ice cream tower from devastation. The point of this story you may ask. Simple.
Usually I would have rolled around the floor until I received some sympathy and then abused the footrest and whoever left it in the middle of the floor!!! However, on this day, at this time, I couldn’t do that. Due to the fact my wife was about to go into the painful labour process, my only response was to pretend it never happened and bottle up all that pain and anger. From my experience bottling up anger and pain is far harder than letting it all out!!!!
Things only get worse for the male as the night progresses. In our situation Rachel’s contractions were starting to cause a little tingle at about 1:45am and were a comfortable 8 minutes apart. I was sharply issued with the orders to call Shelly the midwife. Do you know the pressure of calling someone at that hour of the night? Sure that is part of being a midwife and goes with the territory, but what if you ring the wrong number. The pressure and stress is immense. Added to my stress was the fact that whoever wrote the number must be fluent in hieroglyphics or have Egyptian blood as it certainly didn’t look like a normal telephone number. Hoping with all my heart I got the right number I dialled cautiously. Unfortunately, the dreary sleepy voice on the end of the line confirmed that I had the wrong number. I can only apologise to whoever I called just before 2am on Friday morning. With the pressure mounting I hobbled back to check on Rachel, still nursing my sore toe and deep hematoma on my shoulder. She was spread eagle on the lounge floor, easy for some I thought to myself. I quickly went back to the phone and realised I was looking at the wrong page. I had another go and to my relief a sleepy yet cheerful voice answered, ‘Hello Shelly speaking’.
There is one silver lining to your wife giving birth. That is the car ride to the hospital. Under normal circumstances, like most males, I drive too close, too fast and don’t pay attention to my surroundings. Upon leaving our house I therefore drove according to the conditions. Due to heavy fog, the slight dew and the fact it was night I drove at a sensible 37 kilometres per hour. I will be honest hear and tell you that it was pre planned and it only took about 50m from leaving our house I was issued with my command.
‘Will you hurry up!! I think it’s coming’
That is music to everyman’s ears, the command to drive faster! I smiled as I planted my foot, turned up my Jimmy Barnes CD and away we went.
The other pleasing aspect of the drive to the hospital is that even if you are speeding, the fact that your wife is in labour will get you off most speeding infringements. No Police Officer in his right mind is going to stand there and write out a ticket when yours wife’s contractions are 5 minutes apart. That is unless you happen to get a woman police officer who pulls you over. More than likely she has been through the birthing process and knows that it is more of a marathon than a sprint. She won’t be fooled and knows a five minute break won’t make that much of a deal. Luckily it was policemen on duty that Friday morning I was given a free ride to the hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital things get painful for the man. The hospital has tried to cater for men but in all reality it is still a woman’s domain in the birthing room. A hot tub has been put in place for comfortable male viewing but I was a little miffed that I wasn’t told about this or that there was no beer fridge. If they are going to provide facilities like this for us males the very least they could do is inform us and provide adequate facilities. This will be something I will be letting the management at Tauranga hospital know. With no togs or towel I asked the midwife if she would find it off putting if I went in the pool naked if things got a little boring. She didn’t seem impressed. Perhaps she had been against the hot tube idea at the planning meeting so I thought I would give it a rest.
Instead I was forced into the plastic cushion less chair adjacent to the bed. I had a strange feeling this was where most men ended up in this room. This is when things get difficult for the male, especially for me, as I hate blood, needles and seeing people in pain. As a male we have been programmed to provide comfort and security to those that we love. In the birthing process the only comfort a male can give is a glass of water and a hand to crush. You feel like a total spare wheel.
While I won’t actually go into specific details regarding the next few minutes they were rather exciting although like last time I was almost sick. Then at the end of the process we had a small wee boy for all Rachel’s troubles and my pain.
Upon returning to work I was congratulated by both men and women. Most of the women asked how Rachel was, almost oblivious to the pain I had been through. However, from the male staff members I am issued with a hearty handshake and slight nod of the head. The handshake to make sure I am okay and the nod as an unwritten acknowledgement of the painful process I had endured over the last 12 hours.