I've often wondered about this. Isn't it strange that you'd want a man to partake in an event that seems uncomfortably private in the feminine sense? When I gave birth to my daughter in the town of Bokaro, I had with me in my room, three doctors, two nurses, my husband and my mother-in-law. It wasn't a complicated labor. It was easy.
But I was a hot mess.
And not just physically. It was like I was temporarily schizophrenic, fighting within me many voices - one that craved peace and quiet and a single point of direction from the calm, even voice of my mother-in-law, another that sought attention, that clung on to everybody at the table to explain to me what was going on, why my body was in a battle with me, what was happening down there, and if I would I make it to the end of this...And then there was also this tiny voice growing within me, rising to the surface in a mob of questions. These questions were directed at my husband. "Why do I get to go through this while you stand there looking at me sympathetically? "Why couldn't you put your foot down and get me that f***ing epidural? " "Yes, here I am in enormous pain, sweaty, smelly and unattractive. Do you realize you did this to me?"
I wondered then, "Did I really need him to be here?" He could have just hung out at the coffee shop while I went through the agony of it all. I mean haven't men skipped the blood, poo and gore all along to hold their new babies while looking adorably at their post-workout glowing wives?
It was a hot day in peak northern summer when my daughter arrived. And yet when I gave birth, I had both chills and sweat trickling off my spine all the way to the cold steel of the theater table. I looked at the jubilant faces of all the people crowding around me telling me it's all over and that my beautiful daughter has arrived. But the face that I sought, even before the face of my new angel, belonged to my husband.
And here's why. I was in pain and gripped by fear. And even though my husband's face was causing me great anguish when the contractions were getting gritty, it was also a source of gleaning comfort. He stood by my side telling me to let go of the feeling of misery, let go of the sense of time, guiding me how and when to breathe. Even though the process of labor had nothing to do with him whatsoever, even though it wasn't a pretty sight to take, even though I was giving him the silent treatment and deathly stares, he stood by me and saw me to the end of it.
And then it was all over. I had given my final push and my daughter had been declared as arrived.
Here is what I was doing when that happened:
I was laughing. Uncontrollably. With me eyes closed. I was so happy that it was all over that I didn't even crane my head to steal a glance at my daughter.
Here is what he was doing when that happened:
He was squeezing my hand in victory. And then he gasped in awe to take the sight of our beautiful daughter covered in blood and slime, still pale from the womb. And when she let out her first cry and turned pink, he held her in his inexperienced arms, strong but slightly tremulous from the miracle of birth.
In effect, her dad was the first point of contact with her family when she stepped into the world.
Before I asked my husband's presence in the delivery room, I did this quick visualization about how awkward it'll get later. It'll take all the feminine mystery away and maybe mess up things for us intimacy-wise. There are contradicting theories about whether men should be in the delivery-room. One school of thought talks about how a man's presence in the labor room is redundant and a man can never look at his wife the same way after he's had a first-hand look at childbirth.
I can safely say now that I don't care much for that school of thought. I couldn't have done it without him. I look at childbirth for two life partners as living a world of raw emotions together - pain, anger, fear, joy, sensual pleasure, love...If your partner sits by you on this ride, there isn't another wild adventure that'd ever come close to giving him that kind of rush.