Despite all my friends and family telling me that pregnancy and childbirth are nothing like it is depicted on television and in the movies, I still had many misconceptions throughout the entire process. I read all the books and took all the classes, yet I still had a picture in my mind much like it is shown on the screen; despite these sources trying to steer me clear of these falsehoods. So, I am here to tell all those new dads out there that pregnancy and childbirth are exactly like you see it on TV…not! For all those millennial readers, that is a Wayne’s World reference, not a Borat reference. They say it takes someone 7 times to see something before they act on it so maybe someone out there will read this, and it will be helpful.
Water Breaks – Time to Go
As a first-time dad, the image of the whole process of going into labor had always been water breaks then there’s a mad dash to the hospital. Driving like a maniac, parking in front of the hospital in a no parking zone and running into the emergency room all frantic. Think of John Travolta driving Kirstie Alley to the hospital in his cab in the movie Look Who’s Talking. While this happens once in a blue moon, the more likely scenario is contractions will start gradually and build up until they reach a certain frequency and duration. You and your partner will have a stopwatch in hand and keep asking, should we go now or wait? What about now, the contractions are 0.001 seconds closer? Eventually you will call your doctor and head to the hospital. However, as you will read in the next section, the fun may not be starting yet.
Welcome to the Hospital, Now Go Home
As I mentioned above, once you get to the hospital, things keep progressing on schedule, culminating in the birth of your child. This happens for some, but not many. Chances are you will go to the hospital and they will tell you to go home, especially for first time parents like me and my wife. Although labor has started, the hospital doesn’t want you to be there until it has progressed to a certain point. They don’t want you taking advantage of the luxurious accommodations they have to offer. It actually makes sense, albeit frustrating, to not take up hospital space as the early stages of labor could take hours or days. We actually got sent home twice. After the first send home, it was a few days until we went back. After the second time, my wife was really close and we went home, did a few laps around the block and went back a few hours later.
Honey I’m Gonna Kill You!
Almost every movie or tv show depicts the mother cussing, screaming, and seemingly possessed during labor. While the buildup to the hospital ride consisted of many contractions which I thought my wife has going to rip my shirt or break my hand, once we got to the hospital, she got an epidural, and she was back to her old self. Now if you decide to go the natural route, I can’t comment on how that would work, but the fact is that around 85% of pregnancies these days involve an epidural. My wife was feeling so normal that she actually was starting to plan Thanksgiving dinner (it was still July so maybe the drugs were working too well).
Perfect Baby Emerges
Movies, TV, and commercials all depict a perfect baby emerging and being swooped into the mother’s arms. Most likely, your baby will come out all gooey, with blue hands and feet, and a misshapen head…and that is if he’s healthy. The doctors will give your baby an APGAR score. The first letter in APGAR refers to appearance and having bluish hands/feet is actually not that big of a deal to my surprise. Of course, if all other elements of APGAR are low (pulse, grimace, activity, respiration) as well, then you may need to be concerned. But having a baby with Smurf hands and feet is not a reason for alarm. Also, another factoid I was not prepared for was my baby’s eyes were really blue. To my surprise, most baby’s eyes are blue at birth. Eye color comes days/weeks after birth.
The items in this post are of course not all encompassing. These are just my observations from my first and only time through the process. If you have any additional things that may be helpful please feel free to comment.