Why yes, I happen to speak fluent parturition.

This third #fathersdaymonth post is a lovely meditation on childbirth and fatherhood. There’s also even time for a humorous reflection on the curious and beautiful oddities that we spawn.

This post comes courtesy of Shawn Brown whose lovely blogs and beautiful poetry can be found on his blog page Circumstantially Wonderful – http://sextonsongs.wordpress.com/ – go check it out.

I hope you enjoy this post – please do feel free to leave comments and feedback

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As I was tucking in the Easy Bee (3yrs old – our 2nd of 3);
making absolutely certain that no rough part of the blanket
was touching her face in any way, at all, she says:

Dad, your hands are cold… and they’re warm

My First Born (6yrs) feeling it necessary to contend this paradox
interjects with a voice muffled by her deep nest of covers:

“…that doesn’t make any sense

weellll…” EZB continues in a single breath: “they’re middle… they’re medi… uhhh… meti…
meady…ummmmmmmm…  meaty… meat. We eat meat. We eat fish. Mosquitoes itch us. Right Dad?”

What?

My strange and beautiful children.
Where did you come from?

Oh right, I remember …

(eyes glaze dreamily, hand strokes scruffy chin):

… the muscles of my wife’s lower back rippled
(i didn’t even know we had muscles like that there)
she was turning a deep red with the effort
and still the midwife was demanding: push!

I thought: NO! she’ll burst! no one can do this. STOP!

but then…

I was called around to the front
and there was the top of our little one’s head
I teared up and I repeated: push.

In a moment the child rushed out into my hands
and I picked her up and put her on her mother’s chest.

Our daughter. Born under the water of an inflatable kiddie pool in my kitchenwhere you would sit, in fact, if you came for dinner.

I was no stoic hero (in this case or the subsequent two births)

I was trying to maintain focus on my wife

Trying to take care of the little logistical problems of having a swimming pool in the kitchen
(in which a baby is about to be born)

Trying to be as helpful as a man can be (when he’s long ago completed his required contribution for this somatic/biological process)

Trying to get the back rubs and breathing and moral support just right

Trying to be completely present in this horribly beautiful adventure

But also, I was trying to keep how terrified I was from showing
and adding drama where extra drama was definitely not needed –
hoping I wouldn’t freak out and run screaming from the room
with my arms flailing above my head.

Inside I felt like one of those tiny excitable dogs
dancing around pointlessly with their little nails
clicking on the linoleum floor;
all nerves – no steel.

My wife? Well, she was amazing, powerful…
at one point amidst the pain
she looked up at me clear-eyed and said quietly:
“this hurts more than I thought it would.”
I knew she was strong, but I was in awe.

The first birth was swaddled in novelty:
attending the birthing classes with all of their predictable hilarity
acquiring all the specialized terminology; the jargon of birth

Learning that an umbilical cord is gigantic!
(worth going to class for that information alone – I was pretty ignorant).
Entering into the culture and convictions attendant to home birth
(I felt like a spy from normal-land infiltrating a strange realm
where people very seriously consider consuming parts of their own body)

The whole time I’m thinking: well, sure, but this is just one day –
then what do we do?!
Well, no one can really answer that question.
And this one day?

Nothing could have prepared me for this reality of flesh and bone…
our lives are normally so sheltered, avoiding pain wherever possible,
but this was raw – visceral – utterly exposed
and no matter how hard I tried or what I did
I couldn’t save her from that

– nor would she want me to-
and I was afraid.
the most dramatic culmination of our being one
and we would be so dramatically separate.

Together, intimate but deep within ourselves; our experiences so different.
I was there for support, a hand holding hers, a body to lean against
but ultimately all I could do was stand by and watch her bear it;
which she did with determination and grace
and it was hard and it was raw and it was miraculous.

And then I fell in love.
I was overjoyed with all my tiny new babies,
they were unspeakably beautiful to me

And I swear I didn’t mean to think this:
but, wow, they were also funny looking.
being born is hard work and it showed…

The first debuted like a cross between Yoda and Gollum
I just kept thinking: which of those parts came from me?

EZB (our 2nd) was a little garden gnome;
bright red and fuzzy – a little girl version of the biblical Esau.
and the boy (8 months now), poor kid,
he looked like Roger Ebert after his jaw was removed
(I thought of even worse stuff but my wife said not to write it here.)

But then their tough elastic little bodies
recover from the pressures and trauma of the birth
and they slowly unfold into all of their exquisite oddness;

The wondrous strange combination of things which they inherit from us
and are stuck with for the duration of their lives
(whether they like it or not)

And the things that are their own:
the unique otherness which they begin to foster and protect
whether we like it or not.
from the beginning until now and on till then
they are all so very beautiful.

And as I knelt beside my wife and this other brand new person
my heart still dancing its irregular jig
I choked out: is she breathing?
that child picked her head up off her Mama’s chest
opened her eyes wide and looked directly at me –
calm down, Dad.

 

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22 thoughts on “Why yes, I happen to speak fluent parturition.

  1. Beautifully worded. And very brave to have home births – I preferred hospital, where they clean up the blood while you’re in another room and you don’t have to remember it all every time you sit down to dinner… Love the image of the little dog with the clickety nails!

    • Thank you Judith. Sometimes I think I still hear that tiny dog tapping around when confronted by the hilarious bewilderment that follows in the wake of my daughters of the waters. Have you ever seen one of those dogs when they’re wet?

  2. Well that made me shed a tear before 7am! It was my only son’s 13th birthday two days ago- born at home on the back verandah. But every time I got into the birth pool, I’d say ‘this feels like shit’ and get out! My poor hubby, all that bucketing of hot & cold water for nothing…
    A great story you’ve shared, Thankyou, from gabrielle in Oz 🙂

    • Thank you Gabrielle. Your husband is a good man – I could run a hose pipe from the kitchen sink, so I had it a bit easier than buckets. We live in a flat connected to other people – it would have been really interesting to do it out on the porch! Why didn’t we think of that?

  3. A lovely post. Our first two children were home births (the third would have been too had my wife’s waters not broken during a hospital check-up) and, though I had my doubts initially, I supported her preference and I was really glad I did. Even though I ended up delivering the second one myself because everything happened too quickly! There was something very comforting about being in our own home, with a dedicated midwife who wasn’t flitting between patients, which set both of us at ease. For my part, I felt much more included in the process than with a hospital birth. Plus I didn’t have to pay for parking … 🙂

      • No problem – be glad to. Feel free to email or DM me on Twitter. I’ve written stuff in the past which could easily be tweaked at short notice if you want to include something this month. I can send you a link if you want.

      • Thanks Tim – it’s a great offer but I think I have to be fair to the writers I have already promised slots to. I might look at guest posts specifically on childbirth in future though (from a male perspective of course) so I might be in touch in that respect. Cheers

    • I had my doubts as well and there were some scary moments with the girls. I got tired of caveman/hippie jokes from coworkers (“make sure you cut plenty of firewood to heat your cave”) but as you said the parking was excellent and I was involved in a way that I couldn’t have been otherwise. I was glad we were in our home. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Wow – you certainly have a way with words… As for a home birth… That is a brave decision! I did not have the guts so my hats goes off to you! Well, your wife really 😉 x what a moving and beautifully written account xx

    • Thank you – you are very kind. My wife really is a remarkable lady, she is my Unfair Advantage in this life. I think both hospital and home births have their risks and benefits and Moms have to be pretty brave either way!

  5. Thank you everyone for taking the time to read and for the great comments!
    I’ve really enjoyed getting to share here.
    Thanks to thesecretfather for the opportunity to participate.

  6. Pingback: why yes, i happen to speak fluent parturition. | Circumstantially Wonderful

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