I've admitted it before: I didn't even want my husband around when I gave birth to our first child. I wanted him to wait, like a 1950s dad, in an adjacent room while I suffered and delivered surrounded by some of the strong and experienced women in my world whom I felt could provide a great deal of insight and support. Looking back now, I'm really happy I ultimately opted to throw that plan out the window in favor of something more traditional (or should I say something more "modern?" Maybe I'll call it the "new traditional") that included having my husband right by my side.
Still, there were things that freaked me out about giving birth. My husband, who told me beforehand that he was scared of feeling powerless during birth, was not at all shocked or insulted when I presented to him a list of rules -- we had a discussion about this, I didn't actually give him a handwritten list -- for what he could and could not do during labor and delivery.
1. No looking down there. Oh, I know, how utterly immature of me. I'm not a woman who thinks vaginas are ugly -- they're totally fine and absolutely functional. But during birth, they are bloody. They are wide open. There's a head popping through. In my opinion, there was no reason for my husband to have to get that image in his head when I would like to be someone he continues wanting to have sex with for 45 or 50 more years.
2. No videotaping ANYTHING until after baby is born. This includes me having contractions or the baby actually being born. Funny twist: he was able to record five seconds before our daughter's umbilical cord was snipped -- until a nurse yelled at him to stop because it is a no-no.
3. No photo-taking during labor and delivery. Five minutes after our daughter was born, our first family portrait was taken and it is a beautiful memory. But there was no need to snap a picture of me screaming in agony -- I'll remember that just fine.
4. Kindly make a food run after baby is born and buy as many fiber-packed foods as you can carry. It remains a mystery to me why our hospital served the most binding foods you can imagine -- white bread, hard-boiled eggs -- to new moms who were just learning about the joys of hemorrhoids.
5. Please make sure that no guests, other than close family, visit the hospital. Obviously, if someone showed up to the hospital we weren't turning him or her away. But most people asked my husband first if it was okay, and he did a fantastic job of kindly telling them to wait until we got home before meeting our peanut.
6. Make a playlist of songs on our iPod that would be soothing and inspiring. This was a responsibility he actually took on by himself. And he did an amazing job. Five minutes after our baby was born, Stevie Wonder's Isn't She Lovely burst from the speakers. A movie director couldn't have timed that any better!
Do you have any "rules" for your husband or partner when you give birth?