What did your husband do when you were in labor? Help you through your breathing, hold your hand and support you, bring you a latte, go shoe shopping?
By the grace of God, I had all three of my children naturally. My husband tried his best and was as sympathetic and helpful as a good-intentioned-but-never-having-experienced-an-actual-contraction-and-pushing-out-a-baby man can be. The experience that stands out in my mind took place while I was in labor with my third baby.
We had moved to a new city when I was 8 months along, but I was blessed to connect with an amazing midwife in our new city, who had been serving mothers for over 30 years and was a local legend. At the hospital, I tried various laboring positions but mainly walked the halls with my doula, who was a nursing student. We were engrossed in the most amazing conversation about our experiences in Africa, pausing so that I could breathe and work through the increasingly stronger contractions.
My husband remained in the hospital room with my midwife. Periodically, I went into the hospital room to go to the bathroom. I saw my husband and midwife sitting together and chatting, but I didn't pay much attention (being otherwise occupied!) until I came into the room to see my midwife sobbing. I looked at my husband like "What did you do?!? What's going on???" He sent me a look that conveyed that everything was okay. So I continued my hallway pacing until the contractions became overwhelming, and I insisted on getting into the labor tub.
Soon after, I delivered my baby boy into my own hands while squatting in the tub (an amazing "I am woman, hear me roar" moment!) My husband, who had missed videotaping most of the labor and delivery except for the last moments (because he was busy making my midwife cry?!?), was astounded at the state of the bathroom after the delivery and after the water from the tub had been drained. He exclaimed that it looked like a scene out of a horror movie and carefully videotaped the entire room. Men!
Once the baby and I were situated, I demanded to know why the midwife had been crying. Apparently, they had talked for a long time on various topics during the hours of my labor. My midwife shared about her wonderful childhood, her years of helping women, and her plans as she neared the time when she'd turn over her practice to others. She loved riding her horses and the peacefulness of the countryside. And as they talked about family and parents, she broke down crying because she had lost both of hers in recent years. At times like that, my husband can be very comforting. So while I was out pacing the hallways, working through the labor pangs, my husband and midwife were sitting together in the hospital room, deeply bonding. In thinking about this experience, I remembered that he had bonded with the previous doctor who had delivered my first two babies (though he hadn't cried.) As a matter of fact, I remember the two of them admiring the baby as I started feeling dizzy and was on the verge of passing out until a nurse noticed me. Though I do agree that my babies were irresistibly cute, I was like, "Hello?!? Some attention over here, please!!!" Harumph. Maybe next time (if there IS a next time), I'll let my husband experience some of the joys of ob/gyn visit, and he won't be so quick to bond with the doctor. Just kidding!