I was 23 years old when my first child was born. For 41 weeks the changes my wife underwent in preparation for the biggest change of my life. I was about to become a father, and I couldn’t be any more excited about it. But, nothing prepared me for one of the most traumatic, yet beautiful moments in any parent’s life… the birth of their child. Little did I know the mount of blood, sweat, tears, and poop that would leave my wife’s body during the birth of my son; I might have reconsidered becoming a parent… only a little bit though.
All fathers aren’t built alike. While some dads will take to seeing their wives giving birth as a moment of excitement, others such as myself took it a little bit more traumatically. During November 22nd of the year 2012, my wife was preparing Thanksgiving dinner with the help of my parents while I stood guard at the gate on base. It was a quiet day on base when I received a phone call telling me my wife’s water had broken, and we needed to go to the hospital. I quickly swapped my uniform for something more comfortable and headed to the nearest hospital. By this point, my wife and I had no idea what to expect, but she quickly got admitted to her own room. From there began 13 grueling hours of labor until 1 am of the following day.
My wife was unusually quiet during the process as she was trying to preserve her energy during the contractions. During this time all she wanted was a backrub and a little bit of company. As the night went on and the contractions continue the nurses kept inserting her hands into my wife’s birth canal in order to check how many centimeters my she had dilated. The nurses noted she wasn’t dilating as fast as they anticipated and thus our wait continued. A nurse took me to the side and explained that it was possible a C-Section could be a possibility and we should consider our options. Yet, when I asked my wife is she would consider having one she adamantly refused to consider it. She was determined to give birth to the child the natural way.
Once Elba had dilated enough (10cm according to science) the real ordeal began.I’ll never forget the screams of pain and look of misery on her face as she pushed with all her might. I could do nothing except stay by her side as she yelled out every time she felt the pain of each contraction in spite of the epidural. But, as the pushing continued things started looking grim as according to the nurses the baby should have been further along than he was. That was the moment the nurses told us baby Leo was facing the wrong direction, when we asked for clarification, she told us he was facing up instead of down and that could cause a few complications. Elba and I thought that they meant the baby was a breach, but no he simply was facing the opposite way.
At that moment, Elba gained a surge of strength and determination that could be seen visibly by the look on her face. My mom who was in the room at the time with us, pushed me aside and said leave this to me. Saying a few words of encouragement to my wife, I could only lean back against a wall and look as my mother coached her through this trial. The pushing continued and I could do nothing, but sit and stare as the nurses called in the doctor. Attaching a plunger like device to the baby, the doctor tried pulling Leo out. But, it didn’t work and he had to use scissors to cut my wife’s vagina and finally draw the baby out. Needless to say, I was scarred for life as my wife nearly hemorrhaged from the incision…
After the hauntingly traumatic birthing experience I witnessed, I finally got to hold my newborn potato. He was small, cute, and covered in fluids. But, like most dads, I was just happy to see my baby being born in a healthy manner. Now I had two people to worry about in my life instead of just my wife; I had officially become a family man. The first few days were particularly rough as I witnessed my wife endure the infamous baby-blues and even China Doll Syndrome. I could do nothing, but feel powerless as she was overcome by a sudden rush of fear and panic whenever she left the house with Leo.
All I could do was support her and ask our mutual friends who’ve had children in the past to share their stories with her. China Doll Syndrome only lasted a few days, but the Baby Blues lasted much longer and fathers in the military are only given 10 days of paternity leave. In those ten days I did my best to take care of both her and Leo and they were some overwhelming moments. From crying at any time, to midnight feedings, I did my best to provide help to my wife. I’d like to add that as a new father, one challenge I faced was accepting my position as the number two man in my wife’s life.
I no longer was the priority as Leo had taken that spot. Yet, I have come to terms with it after personally bonding with him. To this day he’s still my favorite person too.
In those first few months of parenthood, I bonded with my son by taking him everywhere with me. I couldn’t get enough of the looks people would give me when I was the one carrying him at the mall and stores. I loved his scent, how good he smelled and will probably never forget the sweet aroma of a baby for years. Even the way he cried was cute to me, and the expressions he had on his face whenever he experienced something new. Bonding with an infant takes a lot of work, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that bonding as a dad might not come as naturally. Still, parenting is wonderful and becoming a new dad is even better; I love Leo and wouldn’t trade him for the world.