Giving birth is a pain and a half. Which is why expectant moms take childbirth preparation courses and devour pregnancy books for months in advance of the big event. We’re doing everything we can to make the process of giving birth painless.
Now, who knows? You just may succeed in having a (mostly) painless birth. Especially if you can persuade your doctor to order you up one humdinger of an epidural spinal block. But even the Mother of All Epidurals won’t do a thing for your psychic pain.
The truth of the matter is, no matter what you do (burn incense in a Shinto shrine, slaughter a firstborn calf, light a black candle, wear five-pound amulets), nothing and no one can prepare you for the stupid things your husband is going to say or do during your labor that will make you want to kill him, even as you’re bringing new life into the world.
Unfortunately, it is inevitable.
You can trust me on that, because I am a mother of 12 children (no multiples, thank you very much). Yes, I am that woman. I gave birth 12 times.
Cool water scented with lavender
Who knows? Maybe your husband isn’t like my husband. In which case, you can wing it and go into the labor room completely optimistic that he’ll be the supportive partner of your dreams – the kind of guy who coos words of sweet praise in your ear as he gently rubs the small of your aching back and sponges your worried brow with cool water scented with lavender. The kind of guy who, unlike my husband, doesn’t roll his eyes and burp on you with his salami breath while you’re screaming up to the heavens to any deity who will listen — or worse yet, pass out when the baby crowns.
But just in case my husband typifies the breed you’ll want to at least try to be ready (really ready). I thought I’d lay it out for you: The top ten things my own husband did during my 12 births that made me want to kill him. Quite frankly, it’s a miracle he’s alive.
1 | Yelled at the doctors and nurses attending me.
Other people give things to the hospital staff. Things like leftover flowers, chocolates, and magazines. But no. Not you, dear husband. You YELL at them. (Way to go, Hubster, alienating the people holding scissors to my private parts.)
2 | Went out to get something to eat.
I think this happened in something like 10 out of my 12 births. Each time it happened, I’d want to say: “You are supposed to BE there for me. And you go and get a burger at a life-defining moment? Why for God’s sake? So you can cheer me on with burger breath?” except I was too busy bearing down in an Eau de Burger-scented delivery room.
3 | Forgot to pack diapers in the going home bag.
This really happened. It was with baby #2. I did the hard work of giving birth, while he had ONE JOB: to purchase a package of diapers and put two in the going home bag. You know how it is, you don’t want to buy stuff before the birth and tempt the evil eye. So you write him up a list. A bulleted list. A perfect list. And of course, he misses something.
The result was that I found myself with a newborn in a diaper full of baby poop (the mustardy kind that gets all over everything and leaves stains) and no diaper in the bag. The baby is crying, the mom is crying, and the maternity ward is under strict orders not to give out diapers for babies who already have their release papers. It’s a cost-saving measure. Instead, they offer me a sanitary pad.
4) Used the royal we, saying, “Here we go.”
He actually said that. Said, “Here we go,” as Baby #3’s head crowned. To which I would have said, “Who’s WE, Kemosabe?” had I not been moaning and grunting in pain. Make that excruciating pain. Something he knew nothing about. Meaning something “we” knew nothing about, since I was the ONLY ONE IN THE DAMNED ROOM EXPERIENCING IT.
5) Made jokes. Baseball jokes. Jokes like, “We’re in the h-o-o-o-o-ome stretch. Get it?”
That would be during transition with Baby #4. I would have socked him in the kisser, but I was too busy SCREAMING AND PUSHING OUT A BABY. Seriously?? Baseball jokes? During transition?
6 | Said things like, “This looks like a big one.”
Picture this scenario: You’re there in the delivery room, out of your mind with pain, pushing out Baby #8. You feel like the pain and trauma is never going to end. Never. And there are all these people handling your lady parts. You don’t know what’s going on even though you’re IN IT. You are the FOCUS. But you can’t see a thing because you’re at the head of the bed and stuff is happening at the end of the bed and you’re scared and he says THAT to you: “This looks like a big one.” You’d definitely roll your eyes up in your head except they’re already rolled all the way up into your brain from the pain of giving BIRTH. They can’t go any farther.
7 | Told me to breathe.
Basically, childbirth preparation is a crock. Because giving birth HURTS. Those classes are all about trying to make your husband not feel like a fifth wheel during the birth of his offspring (which he is). So they, the childbirth preparation “experts,” make up all this stuff about breathing and they tell Hubby to REMIND THE WIFE to breathe.
This is his oh-so-very important task at this time. They tell him he’s indispensable. And he actually believes them — believes you’d forget to breathe without him. Otherwise, why would he be telling you to breathe while you’re pushing out Baby #10? Hasn’t he learned ANYTHING at all during the other nine births???
8) Asked the doctor for a shot of booze.
Mom is resting all aglow. Baby #6 is safely ensconced in his bassinet, having passed both rounds of the Apgar test with flying colors. And dad is asking the OB-GYN for a shot of single malt scotch whisky from that bottle he just knows Doc keeps hidden in his desk drawer. Because boy does Hubby ever need a drink after that. (Because he did what exactly?? *scratches head*)
9) Stopped for coffee along the way to the hospital because he knows there’s time, you’re not anywhere close, he’ll know when it’s time.
Oh, really now? How will he know that? Divining rod, mayhaps? Anointed by God? A crystal ball stashed away with his golf paraphernalia? Tarot cards? Tea leaves?? Can he read palms, too?
10) Hummed. Incessantly. Also tunelessly.
It’s something he does when he’s nervous. Or bored. (He’s BORED???) He hums. And he doesn’t hum just any old tune, but that earworm for the ages, the infamous Kars4Kids jingle. The one that makes you want to sharpen a pencil in the orifice that is your ear. Normally, you’d just plain G-O, go. You’d leave and get yourself out of hearing range. But darn. There you are. Stuck. In the delivery room. With your as-yet-unborn baby and him. Humming.
If he were a fly, you’d swat him. But as it happens, you’re otherwise occupied. Just a tiny bit busy GRUNTING OUT BABY #9.
So there you have it. My top ten. These things really happened. He really said and did those things, my husband. And you know, it’s funny: when I look back on all those births, I can’t help but muse on the irony. Because you have to admit that it’s at least somewhat ironic that as I was bringing new life into this world, all I really wanted to do was off my husband.
Or maybe it’s not so ironic if you think about it. After all, you need look no further than to the animal kingdom to recognize a simple scientific truth, something every eight-year-old boy knows about life and death, and that is the fact that the female praying mantis bites off the head of her partner after mating.
I’m thinking she’s on to something. Do you feel me?
What irritating things has your husband said or done in the delivery room? How did you handle the situation? What would you do to prepare if you had to do it all over again?