In case you missed this recent article written by Alpha Mama, Liz Abbene as part of our monthly newsletter, check it out here on the blog!!
It pretty much goes without saying that I love birth. It is a force like none other, bringing to the surface strength, vulnerability, courage, and power, as lives are transformed. I love the mystery, the unknown, and the incredible mix of the miraculous and mundane, as it occurs just once, yet all the time.
However, no matter how many births I attend, how often I am in the presence of said miracle, there is one thing that will never become mundane to me–witnessing the “birth” of the non-birthing parent.
The woman carrying the baby has had nine or ten months to warm up to the idea of the baby, unable to escape it really. However, for the father or non-carrying mother, parenthood erupts as that baby emerges. It’s as if the powerful, amazing force that is labor, contractions, and birth, culminating in tremendous relief for the birthing mama, transfers immediately to her partner. What that looks like is different for all families–sometimes it’s the waterworks, incredible yelps of joy, a feeling of faintness, utter shock, a shroud of protection, unadulterated disbelief, or a combination of all of those things.
I look back at my own four births, thinking how very different it was each time my husband, Chris, became a father. With our firstborn, the amount of tears and actual sobbing that came out of him were something I had never imagined possible. I remember thinking, “Man, he sure didn’t cry like that at our wedding” (I did, for the record). For a split second, I was almost irritated. However, as my own realization that my long journey of pregnancy, induction, and three hours of pushing was over, all things that took plenty of time, I saw that something even greater had hit Chris. Seemingly, instantly, he became a father. For real. It wasn’t just some hypothetical thing, some imaginary creature to put in that nursery we had decorated, but an actual human that he was responsible for.
With the second one, I would say that the tearful emotions were significantly less, but most likely as a result of her incredibly rapid entrance in to the world, that none of us in the room were really prepared for (including the doctor who didn’t make it in time, leaving my mother to do the catching.) We’ll go with major disbelief on that one.
For number three, the entire labor and birth was amazingly calm, private, and the two of us were incredibly in sync with one another, culminating in him climbing into the tub with me, just moments before our little one entered the world, lovingly and gently into her daddy’s hands. While the whole experience was pretty amazing for me, Chris has repeatedly touted that as the single greatest moment in his life. (So if any of you parters are even remotely interested in helping to catch your babies–do it!!!)
By the last baby, clearly Chris felt as though entering fatherhood was a breeze, confidence levels at an all-time high. How did he demonstrate this? By cracking open one of our extra-special honeymoon bottles of Italian red wine to celebrate, just after she was born. At 5:00 in the morning. Need I say more?
Now, in my doula life, I have a different perspective. I am the one helping to get the partner involved in the labor or offering breaks and reprieve if needed. I guide partners to feel included in the process and offer suggestions of how they can comfort the laboring mama. I remain steadfast and calm if and when partners demand that my suggestions
must work to ease the laboring mamas discomfort and/or facilitate the birth of the baby. I make it my ultimate goal to bring couples together during pregnancy and labor, knowing that it will make for the most incredible birth of not only a baby, but a parent as well.
When those babies finally emerge, those tears, those raw emotions, those looks of disbelief and remarkable awe–that’s the birth of the non-birthing, the transformation of lives, the beginning of parenthood, and it’s pretty fabulous.
In Gratitude, Liz Abbene