My wife and I waited 10 years to have a child of our own. We spent those precious years going to college, finding careers, and most importantly traveling to the areas of the world that we found would most inspire us. From Central and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia, we gained valuable life experience, the kind that provides the right amount of perspective about our world and our place in it.
It’s this very subtle, nuanced, and self-reflective frame of mind that I hope to someday impart on my own children. With that mutually shared philosophy, Belina and I thought it was time to make one of our own. Here’s our birth story.
Pregnancy is odd for the father. To watch the female body change (and hormones sometimes fluctuate wildly) along with the fluttering movements of the little fish-like creature growing inside, is completely foreign to me. While excited, particularly watching ultrasound exams (we had 7, yes SEVEN ultrasounds!) I can’t say I ever fully internalized that our human baby was growing inside of her. How could I? Belina grew our daughter inside of her body, not mine. She had to change her diet, abstain from a glass of wine, and stop doing some physical activities.
*Side note- Belina and I moved from California to Florida this summer and she took on most of the packing and organizing for that agonizing journey. 2,500 miles, a couple of tire blowouts, a cracked frame on our trailer (totaled the trailer), with 2 dogs all while 5 months pregnant. She’s my hero! More on that later…
Belina signed us up for a Birthing class, childcare class, Breastfeeding class, and two Baby Expos. One Baby Expo is one too many, but we got some really cool free stuff! She even modeled on the runway for one of the expos and totally rocked that gig.
To me, this word conjures up images of factory workers sweating and toiling away in a dystopian world reminiscent of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”- “Can you not see that the task is your task – yours to dream, yours to resolve, yours to execute?”
Dear God did Belina complete this laborious task! I had no idea that labor was such a slow, tedious ride. It was incredible to see her use every coping mechanism she could to breathe and relax as the contractions built, ebbed and flowed. All the while I was helpless to do much beyond a massage to make her feel comfortable.
Once she had labored enough at home, she was admitted to the hospital at 4cm dilated. Baby girl had decided that her mother’s womb was too small and she needed to show us her beautiful face. Our birth story was officially in full motion.
Throughout the night, Belina and I listened to music, talked about our plans for the baby and tried to remain calm as our nervousness built as did her pain. She was incredible throughout. Always one to exude politeness to strangers, the nurses remarked at her calm demeanor and sincere gratitude for their help. I would have asked for an epidural at the second trimester!
The shrieks of pain that emitted from Belina as the contractions became closer together, nearly forced me to beg her to ask for pain medication. SHE REFUSED ALL MEDICATIONS. The only real pain management that she used was laughing gas and heat packs. The nurses and midwives that helped her through were mostly great. They offered positions and tips for mentally coping through the pain.
Once the third stage of labor hit, it got real. Belina screamed in a way that I have never seen a person survive. Her entire body writhed in pain as the contractions choked her to the very core of her being. It was an astounding sight to behold. As the pain shot through her body, I couldn’t help but tear up and offer pathetic squeaks of encouragement. Somehow, I imagined that I would be my usual stoic and calm self; this is impossible and should not be understated- watching a woman push through labor is something that every man, whether a father or not, must experience. Men don’t experience that level of physical pain and anguish, especially for such a sustained length of time. Belina’s pain was only matched by my immense feeling of helplessness.
The Arrival and Conclusion to our Birth Story
Once I could see our baby’s head crowning through, it hit me that our daughter was here. That was a person… coming out of my favorite person. And both were alive and needed me. I get emotional just typing this.
With her final 6-8 pushes, a whole team or support staff somehow materialized into the room. I’m guessing they were nurses but I could hardly see through my own tears. Belina was exhausted and most would’ve given up much earlier. However, with the entire crew of six hospital staff forcing her to bear down and push, baby girl came into being. She gushed out, like a fish through water (2nd fish reference!), and was in Belina’s arms before I could even react. Belina exclaimed, “My baby!” which only made me cry more. It was a visceral exclamation, one that only a mother makes after carrying for a full term.
I’ve never felt closer to my wife, for what we’ve created and continue to nurture, which, much like our marriage will continue to grow and change through life.