Now is a great time to become a father. Never before has our culture granted men such leniency in defining the role they wish to play as parents. You can be more engaged in all aspects of your children’s live. And there’s no better place to start than at the birth.
Among many little joys and terrors, two things about the birth really stand out to me.
The first is the gift of being beside your partner as she undertakes an incredibly difficult and inspiring journey. You’ll see her experience physical and emotional stresses unlike anything either of you have experienced before. Just to watch, let alone participate as a birth partner, is wonderful.
Ruby’s birth was quick, intense and went fairly smoothly except for one complication: the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. This was a dangerous situation; paramedics were called to the birth center as a precaution. Kate was giving birth naturally and drug free, and she was barely lucid from hyperventilation and the intensity of her pain. As things became more critical with Ruby’s condition, we had to make some important decisions about how the birth was to progress. We were about to go down a less-than-desirable course when Kate took matters into her own hands. She was exhausted and weak from labor, but she told us to wait. She gathered her energy, focused, and in three quick contractions Ruby was born. It was an incredible moment of determination and focus and resolve. In terms of scale, it was unlike anything I’d witnessed before. It was an honor to be there with her and watch her plumb the depths of her own strength.
The second gift is to be there when your child takes her first quick breath, tastes the sweaty, musty world we live in — and announces herself. I’m not much for metaphysical spirituality, but when I heard that noise, of Ruby telling us she had arrived, I lost touch with this world. I wept. For the duration of that cry, I floated in the sound. During those moments a piece of my soul was removed and placed into her, and I felt it happen. It was a moment of pure, sweet joy to match the intensity of everything we’d experienced in the preceeding hours.
You can’t have one gift without the other — they’re a matching set, with the intensity of labour setting you up for the sweet release of a new life. Be there, and you get them both.