“Hey, Dad, am I gonna be like you when I grow up?” my son asked me the other day. Somewhat at a loss for words, I replied “If you study hard, get good grades, go to college and then manage to find a job then it’s possible, yes.” “No”, he continued, “I mean, will I LOOK like you or Grandfather? Or maybe Papa?” (We use ‘Grandfather’ and ‘Papa’ to differentiate between my father and my wife’s father at our house.)
“Well, I suppose you could end up looking like any of us. You could even look like Mom” I said. Noticing the concerned look on his face, I quickly added “But probably not like Mom”. Since it was Father’s Day, this conversation took me back to when our children were born. Why, I remember it like it was only yesterday…
To tell you the truth, I’m somewhat envious of my father. The way he tells it, back when I was born the fathers-to-be would drive their expectant wives to the hospital, slow to under 5 MPH, open the door and shove them out. A nurse would then wheel the mother into the hospital and, in a day or so when the mother and baby were ready to come home, the father was called to come pick them up and away they went. The proud father then dropped the mother and baby off at home and went golfing with his buddies and they all smoked cigars.
Another, perhaps more common, misconception about the father’s role in the birth is depicted in many old TV shows like “I Love Lucy”. In this version, the expectant fathers smoke cigarettes and pace around aimlessly in the waiting room as they await word on the impending blessed event. After a few hours, a nurse comes in and tells the guy that his wife has just had triplets and he comically faints.
Neither of these accounts is anywhere NEAR what actually goes on in delivery rooms today. To begin with, the father is expected to be an active participant in the entire “birthing experience.” They even have classes that you have to go to in preparation for the big day. Contrary to anything you’ve seen on The Discovery Channel (where women in Tanzamanga are out working in the rice paddies, feel a ‘twinge’, squat on a banana leaf and five minutes later have a perfectly healthy baby) these classes emphasize the fact that there are THOUSANDS of things that can go wrong during pregnancy.
Of course, nothing speaks louder than experience so I thought it might be helpful for any expectant fathers out there for me to share my own personal insights into what they can expect to see in the delivery room.
Here’s what to expect during your first child’s delivery:
After the first child, things generally improve:
I hope this information will be useful to any expectant fathers our there. Unfortunately for me, my daughter now has questions of her own. “Daddy, am I going to be like Paris Hilton when I grow up?” she asked.
We can only hope not.
Feel free to send your own childbirth experiences to ChucksCorner@ComCast.net. Or, better yet, keep them to yourself.