I’m lucky that I had a supportive partner who was by my side throughout my pregnancy. He attended all the doctor's appointments that he could. He would cater to my pregnancy cravings, even when that meant making midnight trips to Burger King for nothing but French fries and cherry icees. I thought there was nothing I'd want more than his love and support during labor, but it turns out, I was wrong. I didn’t want him constantly by my side during labor. In fact, I wanted to labor alone.
It wasn’t long into my labor that I realized my husband’s constant concern and need to help was not going to fly if this process was going to be long (and it was — my labor was a whopping 21 hours). His desire to be useful, while noble, was only helpful during the early stages of labor. He was great when I wanted a walking partner to do laps with me around the labor and delivery room when I tried to ramp up my contractions. He was quick to get me pillows or ice water or anything that I needed. He wanted to be the other half of my team, and in the beginning I was thrilled about him being there.
But once my labor actually started in earnest, our whole dynamic changed.
As labor ramped up, so did my husband's desire to help me through it. He wanted to hold my hand during contractions when all I wanted to do was grip onto the bed rail and scream. He kept telling me to breathe, over and over again, when all I wanted was silence. He asked me what I needed in the breaks between contractions, and to be honest, what I needed was to be alone.
I wasn’t about to kick my loving husband out of labor and delivery because he was being too helpful. But I was on the verge of screaming that he needed to stop touching me, stop talking to me, and stop telling me to breathe before I lost my mind.
Of course, I wasn’t about to kick my loving husband out of labor and delivery because he was being too helpful. But I was on the verge of screaming that he needed to stop touching me, stop talking to me, and stop telling me to breathe before I lost my mind. It was around this point that I decided I needed to have an epidural to deal with the pain. Once again, I was happy to have him by my side as I dealt with the fear of a giant needle being inserted into my back. But as soon as it was finished, he was on top of me again. Was I feeling okay? Did I need anything? What could he do?
Luckily, the epidural provided a short lull in contractions, and I had the perfect opportunity to give my husband, and myself, a break. Instead of sending him on yet another trip for fresh ice chips that I wasn’t eating, I told him to go take a nap. I told him that nothing was happening now that the epidural had set in. I could feel the contractions, but I really didn’t need his help at the moment. I pretended I was going to read a book from my hospital bag (side note: why the hell did I think I was going to read a damn novel while in labor?) and convinced him that a pre-birth nap would do him good, since we were well into the night already.
In no time, my husband was asleep in the corner chair, and I was free to labor on my own at last. The nurse left me alone, monitoring my contractions from her station in the hallway. I closed my eyes and breathed through my contractions, a task that was much easier when no one was chanting, “Breathe, breathe, breathe” in the background. I didn’t have to answer to anyone or anything but my own body, and even though the hour leading up to birth was intense, I was glad to go at it alone and in silence.
When it was finally time to give birth, I felt ready and capable, not annoyed and overwhelmed. My husband sprang up from his chair to my side once more, and although I wouldn’t have minded him squeezing in a few more minutes of sleep, if I had to push a baby out it was only fair that he should have to be awake at 2 a.m. to witness it.
At that point, he could have been jumping up and down and hyperventilating, and it wouldn’t have mattered a damn bit to me. I was pushing a baby out of my vagina. Background noise was the least of my worries.
I pushed for 12 minutes before our daughter was born. During that time, the nurse had to remind him twice to stop telling me to breathe (it was at a point when I was pushing and was NOT supposed to breathe). But honestly, at that point he could have been jumping up and down and hyperventilating, and it wouldn’t have mattered a damn bit to me. I was pushing a baby out of my vagina. Background noise was the least of my worries.
When all was said and done, we had a beautiful healthy baby, and I was really glad I hadn’t kicked my husband out of the room on an angry whim. It was a moment I was thrilled to share with him, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I could do it all over again, the only thing I would have changed would be making him take a nap sooner.