I spent the better part of my pregnancy preparing for labor and delivery. I knew that what I wanted to experience, and the end result, would require an immense amount of other-world energy, the likes of which my body had never seen. What I didn't realize, however, is that my partner was preparing, too. Sure, he wasn't going to physically go through childbirth, but our son coming into the world was going to affect him also. He's not alone, I realized, when I asked parenting partners to describe what it's like to watch their partner have a baby. I learned that while it's exciting and scary and exhausting and empowering for women going through the physical rigors of labor and delivery, it's also exciting and scary and exhausting and empowering for the partners of these laboring women, too.
The birth of my son changed me in a way that's pretty difficult to describe. I didn't feel an instant shift in my world, but I knew things were never going to be the same. I was also so physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, that what happened to me the moment my son came out of my body and was placed in my arms didn't really hit me until days, or even a week, later. My partner, however, had a different experience. He was changed instantaneously (he tells me) and while we were both in the same room, we were both feeling very different things.
Of course, dads aren't the only ones who have the privilege of watching their baby (or babies) come into the world. Partners in same-sex couples also have that ability, as do adoptive parents. However, it's interesting to hear a father's perspective, especially because — culturally — they're often considered to be an afterthought in the labor and delivery process. So, with that in mind, here's what seven proud fathers had to say about watching the birth of their babies.