It was a Sunday afternoon and my wife and I had been out for the weekend without kids. We were on the way home when a sudden burst of laughter broke the serene silence. What the heck did I miss, I wondered?
I looked over at my wife. Evidently she had seen or heard something terribly funny, because she was convulsing in laughter and tears were starting to roll down her cheeks. I asked her what was up, but the only answer I got was more laughter. I started to wonder if there was something hanging out of my nose or some kind of creature crawling on me, but a glance in the rearview affirmed that nothing was amiss. And as the uncontrolled laughter continued with no explanation, I started to get a little annoyed.
The scene continued to play out for a couple more miles – her face turning red with laughter, me getting more frustrated all the time – when she finally managed to blurt out something about it just being one of those pregnant things.
Holy jeepers, this pregnancy thing really does get crazy, I thought.
I had learned long before to never argue with a pregnant women, so I just continued to take the mind-boggling scene in. She’d almost gain control, then start laughing, gain control a bit longer, then start laughing again. After what must have been 10 to 15 minutes, everything returned to normal; or as normal as things can be with a pregnant woman.
I never did like much of anything that went along with having a pregnant wife – other than the obvious reward at the very end. Lamaze classes, cravings – my wife’s were Gatorade, peaches, chocolate milk and popsicles – sleepless nights, endless potty stops on road trips and, especially, having to be in the delivery room. It can be a rough time for a guy.
If it was me having a baby I’d be like, OK. I want one doctor and one nurse in the delivery room. Everyone else out. And don’t come back in until I’ve had time to freshen up.
I guess most women don’t see it that way.
I remember the first time my wife brought the delivery room issue up. It was posed as a question, but it really wasn’t. “So, we have to start Lamaze classes soon. You know that, right? And you do plan to be in the delivery room, don’t you?” she asked.
“Um … I guess … do I have… yes, honey, I will be there,” was my reluctant answer.
But that doesn’t mean I was looking forward to it. When I was young my family had a dog that was having puppies. “Hurry, come and watch,” my mom said one evening. So off the rest of the family dashed to take it all in. I headed toward the TV.
See, to me it should be like the scene from the Jimmy Stewart movie “Shenandoah,” where one of his daughters or daughters-in-law is having a baby. The doctor arrives and goes upstairs to take care of business, and the men wait downstairs having a cigar and whatever. Then when all the crazy business is done, the men go see the new baby. And everyone is happy. Right?
I mean, after seeing that movie at a young age, I figured that’s how it was supposed to be. My wife told differently.
So there we were, in the delivery room having our first child, contractions and all that going on.
I was just trying to keep myself composed, when a kindly nurse says, “Remember your Lamaze classes, help your wife breath.” I wanted to tell her, “Look, I’m having enough trouble breathing myself. You’re the experienced one, why don’t you help her?” Instead, I started doing those stupid breathing techniques, feeling like a complete fool. The exercise didn’t last long though. I wasn’t giving it a whole-hearted effort, my wife wasn’t paying much attention, and then things started happening really quick.
“I can feel the head,” the doctor said.
Whew, this mess is about over, I thought.
Then the head appeared, then the contraction stopped. And there was our first son, head flopping around, stuck halfway in his new world and halfway in his former one. I swear it looked just like a scene out of the movie “Alien,” and I was like, “Get that poor thing out of there!”
Once Tye was delivered and I was barely beginning to recover from the earlier drama, the doc looked at me and said, “You want to cut the cord?”
“Are you crazy?!!” I thought, while, “Um, I think that’s what I’m paying you for,” is what I actually said.
Fast forward three years. We are getting ready to have our second child. “So, you’re going to be there in the delivery room again, aren’t you?” my wife asked.
“Yes, honey, if that’s what you want,” I replied, starting to see visions from three years before.
I was a delivery veteran by then though, and thanks partly to an epidural, the second time went much more smooth.
But there was one problem. Likely due to my angst, when it came time to leave hospital, we still had not settled on a name for our child.
“You’re not leaving this hospital until you name your son,” a kindly nurse said.
Well, can we call him Boy, I wondered, as a thought of Foghorn Leghorn crossed my mind.
An hour or so later we came up with the name Chase. And they let us go home.
Yep, I think there’s a reason we stopped at two kids.
I still don’t believe the delivery room is a place for any man other than a doctor. But all kidding aside and to set the record straight, having two sons that I’m very proud of has no doubt been my greatest accomplishment.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.