I am extra excited today because for the first time ever, Justin is going to make his debut here at The Life Jolie. I've known for a while that I wanted J to pop in here and there to offer his take on certain things, but I never knew when would be the appropriate time to introduce him. This post seems like the perfect chance because not only is it a great way for you to learn a little bit about him and how awesome he is, but also it's really valuable information, specifically for people that are about to have a child. Have look at The New Daddy Survival Guide, Part 1: The Delivery and get to know one of my favorite people in the world:
In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, "Heeeeellllllllooooooooooo!!!" It's a pleasure to (finally) be contributing to this blog. I look forward to bringing a little slice of Justin to The Life Jolie. Without further ado, I bring you part one of my New Daddy Survival Guide which is all about the delivery.
Future parents hear an endless amount of advice and stories from family and friends leading up to that moment of childbirth and even more after. I cannot begin to express the amount of anecdotes others offered up, whether it was something I wanted to hear or not. It is up to you to pack away the quality advice and shut out the crap you just don’t need to hear. But looking back, I truly believe it was so beneficial to hear it all – even the crap – and use it to prepare myself based on who I wanted to be as a father.
Our pregnancy was no different. Yes, that’s right – I said our pregnancy. I cannot lie. I did not realize this until late in the game, but once I did my ability to step into the role of father became much more natural. I hope that my experience of realizing the role of fatherhood can help future parents. You may find what I am about to tell you to be helpful and you may find it to be a load of crap. Either way, I hope it is beneficial.
Preparing For the Birth - “There is no instruction manual. Nobody knows what the hell they are doing with their first kid. I didn’t know. You just have to be ready to figure it out.”
The above quote was probably the best advice I got from a co-worker prior to the birth. I completely underestimated what I could do to prepare for the birth of our daughter. Let’s be honest – I have always been a procrastinator and this was no different. I was lucky enough that my wife spent endless hours reading and researching.
- Know the Birth Plan: Jessy had an idea of how she wanted her birth plan to be. It basically consisted of having no strict plan and going with the flow but also keeping things easy-going and as relaxing as this type of situation can be. I simply nodded my head and listened to what she expected from me. Now, I have been known to not listen too well in the past (after all, I am a man), but trust me when I say, it will pay off if you fully understand as much as you can beforehand about what she needs from you during the birth.
- Take the Classes: We attended a few infant care classes, but they only scratch the surface. I can clearly recall sitting in a hospital conference room with my wife learning how to swaddle the baby. I left that class with one thought in mind: “I do not know how to swaddle the baby.” Perhaps the true benefit was that it helped me come to terms with how much I truly did not know.
- Free Your Mind: I kept coming back to that line – You just have to figure it out. You can read all the books you want. You can go to all the classes you want. When it comes down to it, you need to be mentally prepared. I did not read a single book, but I fully understood that this was going to be something I have never experienced – and when it got tough, I would figure it out.
Delivery Day - “You break down my walls with the strength of your love.” (Yes, that's a Whitney Houston lyric)
From the moment my wife’s water broke, something in me just clicked. I have a difficult time explaining it, especially given the lack of prep I had devoted to this. That morning, I truly believe I became a different man. We were about to become a family and I was determined to do whatever necessary to take care of my girls. I completely agree with her recommendations about your time at the hospital, so I am going to focus on what I did to support my wife during the birth. I kept the following things in mind while in the delivery room:
- Be Confident: I know it sounds crazy to say, but I was the most important person in the room that day, other than my wife, of course. If you are the one there to support her through the pregnancy, you need to believe that too. Sure, there are doctors and nurses that need to know what they are doing, but deep down, my wife looked to me to find her strength. Don't panic, otherwise she might, too.
- Talk to Her: I have never felt as helpless as I did while watching my wife go through labor. This was probably the most exhausting part for me. I know it does not compare to what she went through, but you cannot give up. I was relentless with the encouraging words. Yes, at times I was repeating myself, but I would rather continue to say, “You’re doing great,” than remain silent trying to think of something new to say. She is usually the talker in the relationship, but that day I kept telling her how much I loved her and how proud I was of her. She will find energy from your words. Be mindful of what she needs. Jessy and I discussed this prior to the delivery. ON the other end of the spectrum, if silence is what she needs, give it to her.
- Be Careful About Touching Her: This is one thing I did take away from the classes. You need to know when to touch her and when to stay the hell away. Jessy was great on letting me know if she needed space, but be prepared to massage her back, shoulders or whatever else she wanted for a long time. The aches in your hands from rubbing her back cannot compare, so do not bring it up if your hands are sore. Just man up.
- Keep Her Comfortable: Jessy wanted me to make sure I kept her laughing that day. I would say I succeeded admirably at this. This can be tricky because you don’t want to try to lighten the mood at the wrong time and have it backfire. Know her personality and adjust accordingly. My wife has an interesting sense of humor, to say the least, so I was able to push the boundaries a little. I think some of the nurses were a little shocked at times.
- Keep Her Company: I never left Jessy alone. It is okay to take a break. Do not underestimate how long and straining the day can be. I made sure that a nurse was in the room with her if I needed to take a breather. I did not want Jessy to feel like she was alone at any time. This may seem obvious, but she is the top priority. There are no exceptions to this. Also, parents, relatives and friends can wait.
- Be Ready to See It All: You are going to see blood. You are going to see poop. Your baby is going to come out and have goo all over him or her. Get over it. This is not a clean process and just be ready for it.
- Put the Camera Down: I had my GoPro camera with me and ready to go, but that could wait. Fight off the urge to pull out the camera. Wait until after the baby is born and then document it. Leading up to the birth, Jessy needed my focus on her. That moment was for us and we do not need video footage to remember it. It's also likely that pointing a camera at mommy-to-be will result in a throat-punch.
- Enjoy the Moment: A friend urged me to stay above the waist. Jessy also did not really want me below the belt. I think she was worried about what lasting images I might have. That was not really an option when our doctor had me holding one of Jessy's legs while she was pushing. When she could see the head of the baby, she asked me if I wanted to see. I did - and to this day, I still consider it as one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed. Do not lose sight of the fact that you are bringing a life into this world. Cherish the moment.
I always tell Jessy what a terrible memory I have, but this was a moment I will not forget. I fell more in love with my wife that day than I ever have been. It was thrilling to see my daughter open her eyes for the first time and I am so blessed to have her and Jessy in my life.
There is so much more to get to, but I will leave that for Part Two where I explain how I handled life after the birth of our child.
You can view more parenting posts here.
What was your delivery room experience like?
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