Of all the things misunderstood about pregnancy and birth, I'm going to suggest that labor is the most misunderstood of all. If you watch any TV show or movie, labor looks like this: water breaks, woman immediately goes into very painful contractions, goes to the hospital, and delivers a baby quickly. It's almost never like that. Expectation versus reality is weird and emotional enough for moms, but what about dads? I asked a few fathers to describe how they felt when their partner went into labor and what they thought the moment they knew it was "go time." Their answers run the gamut from typical Hollywood explanations (hey, those media executives do get some things right) to, "OMG, seriously, dude?"
A lot of the dads I talked to told me something that confirms the myth of the Hollywood labor: more often than not, the woman in labor wasn't sure she was actually in labor, or that "real" contractions were starting right away. It took a while of guessing, checking stop watches to time contractions, and calling professionals before they finally realized, "OK, yes. This is labor."
Most of their stories pick up from about the moment they finally realized, "This is happening and probably pretty soon and before I know it, I'm going to be a parent." Whether new parents are facing chaos or a surprising amount of leisure, the start of labor is a somewhat surreal time one way or the other. So what did these 10 dads think as it began? Here a synapsis their unique experiences, in their own words: