I adore my partner, and am so very thankful that he is the person I get to raise our son with. He was incredibly supportive when I was pregnant, and was a vital part of my labor and delivery experience. He walked the halls with me; he helped me in the birthing tub; he held me while I swayed back and forth through contractions; I mean, he did whatever he could to assist me bringing our sin into the world. Still, I had some thoughts about my partner during labor and delivery; thoughts that weren't, well, always kind. Sorry I'm not sorry, I guess?
Of course, every labor and delivery experience is different. I know so many women who birthed at homes in tubs or pools, completely calm and even in minimal pain. I'm sure their thoughts are very different from the ones I experienced when I was in labor. In fact, I'm sure the thoughts going through every woman's brain when she's bringing another human being into the world vary depending on circumstance. However, I would also argue that there are some universal feelings most laboring women have, and I definitely experienced the majority of them. Because my labor and delivery were very painful (for the 10 hours I labored without any drugs), and my birthing experience was complicated (I birthed a baby that was alive, and a baby that wasn't) I had a wide range of feelings and thoughts, mostly directed at my partner.
While the following thoughts are definitely valid, especially in the moment, they usually didn't last very long. Well, some of them, anyway. Labor and delivery unleashes a rollercoaster of emotions, and I seemed to be going up and down that rollercoaster at an unbelievable pace when I was bringing my kid into the world. So, if you've been through labor and delivery with your partner, and these thoughts bombarded your brain on the regular, know that you're not alone and it's normal and, well, your partner shouldn't take it personally.
"I Hate You"
It might take you a while to feel some ill-will towards your partner, but it will (probably) happen. It's a fleeting feeling, to be sure, and it's definitely not indicitive of how you actually feel about them (I hope). Still, it's a thing and it happens and when a woman is under that much pain and intense pressure, hating damn near everyone is just par for the course.
"This Should Be You"
On the one hand, it's an incredible feeling to be able to bring another human into the world. You feel powerful and capable of it's an honor, really. On the other hand, it's normal to feel like you'd be happy with anyone else handling this particular responsibility. I remember standing at the edge of the hospital bed, rocking back and forth and moaning through a contraction in the middle of the night, while my partner slept. I told him to sleep, mind you, but that didn't keep me from wishing that he was the one going through contractions.
"This Is All Your Fault"
I may or may not (but definitely did) say this to my partner mid-contraction while hanging onto him and swaying back and forth. He was so wonderful and supportive and, of course, my pregnancy and subsequent labor wasn't his fault. We both decided to have a baby. Still, sometimes shifting inexplicable blame onto someone gives you that little bit of extra support you need to make it through another set of contractions.
"I'm So Glad You're Here"
I was so very thankful that my partner was there, and that he was an active part of my labor and delivery. Sometimes, just looking at him helped. Other times, like when I needed a reminder that I could, in fact, bring our child into the world, his words of encouragement were priceless. Sure, there were moments when I wanted to kick him in the shins because I was in so much pain and he, well, wasn't, but I am forever grateful that I had my partner there with me when our son was born.
"OK, I Love You"
I mean, it's true. I do. I might not say it enough, especially when I'm in pain and focused on the task at hand, but I do.
"Pretty Soon, You're Going To Be A Parent..."
I vividly remembering looking at my partner and thinking, "Wow, you're going to be a dad." It was an incredible, overwhelming feeling. We were both changing simultaneously, and that palpable change was bonding us in a way I didn't necessarily prepare for.
"...But Only If I Don't Kill You For Doing This To Me, First"
Look, the emotions one experiences when going through labor and delivery are vast and diverse and ever-changing. One minute, I would love my partner immensely and be so very thankful that he was in the room with me. Other times, I hated him and didn't want him to touch me or even talk to me.
"I Can't Do This Without You..."
After laboring for more than 20 hours and actively pushing for an additional three, I looked at my partner and simply said, "I can't do this." I was so exhausted, even the thought of pushing for one more second was too much. Of course, I could do it and I did do it, but there were moments of self-doubt that crept to the forefront of my brain. My partner was a big reason why those thoughts didn't linger.
"...You're Also Totally Useless"
And, of course, there were moments when I didn't think my partner was much of a help at all. Usually, that was because I didn't want to be touched. Sometimes, someone touching me was enough to throw off my concentration, so I wanted to be left alone. Simultaneously, I was pissed that all my partner was doing was sitting there, even though I explicitly told him to just sit there. The poor man couldn't win.
"Your Help Is Invaluable"
In the end, I consider my partner (and my doctor's and nurses) to be one of the many reasons why my son was safely brought into the world. Of course, I am not going to downplay the tremendous work my body did. In the end, it was me. Still, I am not daft to the undeniable reality that I had so much help, and that help matters so very much to me. My partner was an incredible support, through every contraction and every push. He let me yell at him when I needed someone to yell at; he encouraged me when I thought I was too tired to continue; he reminded me of my goals and what I wanted to experience. That really, and truly, is invaluable.
"I've Never Felt Closer To You"
The moment my son was born, I looked at my partner and felt this palpable closeness and connection. We had been through something life-changing, together, and the experience only made our relationship that much more meaningful. I was too tired and overwhelmed to articulate any of these feelings in the moment, of course.
My partner thanked me many times over for bringing our son into the world. In fact, he still does. I, in turn, thanked him so very much for helping. He really was a vital part of my labor and delivery experience, and while I can't take away the work my body and mind did, I very much appreciate the work my partner did, too.