When we were headed to the hospital for the birth of our first child I really didn’t know what was about to happen. I had read a couple parenting books and we had discussed what our parenting plan was going to be but all of that started after the baby was born. My wife was reading books about what to expect during the pregnancy and she shared some of that with me along the way but I never really read anything or discussed with anyone what to expect during the delivery. We didn’t go to any birthing classes, I imagine some of this would have been covered in there. I was going in blind.
Our first two children needed to be induced. We were told to be into the hospital by 7:00 am. We went home got the house all set up, ok that’s a lie, I’m pretty sure my dad assembled the bassinet after our son was born while we were all still in the hospital. But we did get a great nights sleep the night before. We arrived at 7:00 am and I figured we’d be parents well before lunch time. I was so wrong. Here are a few of the things I didn’t know:
Labor can take a really long time
We showed up at 7:00 am and I was expecting to be eating my lunch as a dad. No such luck. We did a whole lot of waiting and walking. I’m so thankful that I brought a giant bag of snacks and that there was an America’s Funniest Home Videos marathon on TV. Finally hours later they broke my wife’s water and I just knew we were only moments away. Wrong again. Eventually, just a few minutes before midnight, our son was born.
How my wife would respond to the pain
Everyone responds differently to pain and I didn’t know how my wife was going to act when the contractions started getting painful. She didn’t really know herself. Some women focus inwardly and think about their breathing, some look to the others in the room for support, some need to scream or squeeze something, others get downright mean. My wife essentially wanted to be left alone to get through it, eventually she got an epidural and we didn’t have to worry about that anymore.
Babies are born face down with crazy shaped heads
I have no idea why but when our son started to come out my first thought was “where is his face?” I tried to look around his head but I just couldn’t find his face, all I could see was this jelly bean shaped mass covered in dark hair. I hadn’t put any thought into it but I guess I was expecting our baby to come out face up. With our other kids it wasn’t a big deal but I still chuckle to myself when I think about those few moments when I thought my wife was giving birth to a faceless alien baby.
The placenta has to be “birthed”
Once again, this was a situation where I hadn’t really spent any time actively thinking about it but I wasn’t expecting my wife to have to keep pushing after the fact in order to get the placenta out. I guess I just assumed everything came rushing out together. Again, a birthing class would have probably helped with this.
Umbilical cords are tough
I wasn’t prepared for how tough the umbilical cord is. When the doctor told me to cut it and handed me the scissors, I figured a light little snip would suffice. I was very surprised to find out that cutting an umbilical cord feels like cutting a rubber hose.
The love I was going to experience
I have previously spoken about this in a post to first time dads. I had no idea how different the love I was going to have for my child was going to be compared to any other love I have experienced. In the same way you love your mom, spouse and ice cream differently, you also love your children in a very different way. I wasn’t expecting it.
Nurses varieties of bedside manners
Having never been in the hospital before I wasn’t thinking about the nurses shift changes and how we would be getting a new nurse every 8 hours. Some nurses were so sweet and looked after us so well, they would knock first and enter quietly and if it was night time they wouldn’t turn on any more lights than they needed to and they would turn them off when they left. Others would burst through the door talking so loudly it was borderline yelling, they would turn on every single light in the entire room, do whatever they came to do, usually wake and cause our baby to cry then just walk out leaving all the lights on. It’s incredible what a difference a good nurse can make. Thank you to all the sweet, caring nurses out there.
Unpleasant to sleep in hospital
I didn’t expect the hospital to have five star resort sleeping arrangements but I also didn’t expect the sofa bed to be less comfortable than a sleeping bag on the ground. I understand they aren’t there to cater to me and my wife is their number one priority but come on. They know husbands will be staying there to help support their wives, they could have gotten something a little more comfortable. At least more comfortable than the ground.
Those were some of the things I didn’t know going in the first time. I was significantly more prepared the second go around. How about you? Was there anything you weren’t expecting for the birth of your child?
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