The Labor Movement: A Father's Guide
By Doug Powers
The events of the evening of conception are relatively unimportant.
Every man has his own story as to how it happened. Suffice to say the night
involved liberal amounts of hops and barley, the top of the refrigerator
and about a quart of strawberry preservatives. The consequences of those
evenings of being rocked to sleep in the arms of passion and Budweiser will
last a lifetime....and never be regretted!
Every male can usually recall a point in time during his life that he
officially became a "man". For some, it was being sent off to war, for others
it was the first time they showered with their new Cindy Crawford mural
shower curtain. For me, it was the first time the pregnancy test stick showed
two lines. My wife was excited. I was a bit in a daze (apparently still reeling
nine months later from mixing beer and jelly). I was not happy, not unhappy.
The expression on my face was very Al Gore-ish. It's the feeling you get when
standing on a frozen lake and the ice begins to crack, but you're still naive
enough to think you can make it back to the shore before becoming a cryogenic
experiment (Authors note to potential mothers... PLEASE give us a little
warning before you shove a pee-covered plastic stick in our faces!).
The pregnancy tester itself is another issue. The company that makes
these should make the process more fun. It's the least they can do. Show dollar
signs flying out a window over a big, stinky diaper for positive; a guy sipping
champagne in his Mercedes with four hot blondes for negative. And can we lower
the price a little bit, fellas? Look, we all have debts, o.k., but taking
advantage of my lack of proximity to contraceptives is just plain un-American!
With two lines staring me in the face, I knew immediately of my impending
fate. Lamaze classes, expert advice from people who don't even have kids, cutting
the cord, getting crotch-rammed by an out of control two-year-old, school clothes,
being called "dude" by my own child, graduation....on and on. It's just amazing,
life can come down to staring at two lines (final note for the pregnancy-tester
company, can you make a third line to tell if the kid will be "college material"
or not? I need to start saving up after having to buy your product every month!).
From what I'm told, the pregnancy for my wife and me proceeded as
normally as possible. What I was now fearing was the delivery. Could I handle it?
Would it turn into a Lucy episode? What if I cut the wrong cord? The
possibilities for me to practice my clumsiness were endless. First, I just had to
get my wife through the nine month process. Nine months! Why must life always come
down to nine's? Nine innings per game, nine players per side, nine holes and
nine planets. After spending at least ninety-nine days at the ice cream store, we
were nearing the finish line.
My time was now consumed waiting for the water to break. I wasn't sure
how much to expect. Was it a little water, like spilling a thimble? Or should I
traverse the neighborhood collecting two of each animal for the impending tsunami?
Secondly, I was concerned with the term "water break". How is it possible to
break water? It's like saying "break air". Was I about to experience a new law
of physics within my own family? Einstein's Theory of Relatives?
So long had I been dwelling on this breaking water issue that I barely
noticed when my wife told me her water broke. "Hey, that wasn't all bad" I happily
said as my wife was sitting in a reflecting pool which was once our couch. She
calmly recommended that we get to the hospital.
Driving with a woman in labor in the car is a very strange sensation ...
VERY strange. Like seeing a dog typing or a rocket on the launch pad upside down.
My wife was not in an inordinate amount of discomfort yet, but I was. I just wanted
to get her to the hospital so the "professionals" could take over. Or so I thought.
In the movies, the car pulls up to the emergency entrance and a staff of
doctors and nurses rush out with wheelchairs, flowers, they check the oil, kick
the tires and take the woman inside for a speedy delivery. As I pulled up to the
entrance, it was more like a scene from the movie The Day After. The area was
desolate and lifeless....the stillness of the night broken only by the occasional
cricket. Whenever I'm in an eerie silence, I take notice of the same thing ... I
have to go to the bathroom! But I can't yet! I have a job to do!
I walked my wife inside only to notice the Marx Brothers sitting behind
the reception desk.
"Watta you name?" asked Chico.
"Honk Honk!" Harpo interrupted. I knew he wanted us to follow him.
I do exaggerate a bit. Our orderly was more along the line of Jerry Lewis
in The Disorderly Orderly. "Hello nice lady...let's have us a
As we reached what will hereafter be known as "the room", we settled in.
The time was about three in the morning, so I knew what that meant. All the first
year interns would be on duty. What I had not realized is that the nurses and
interns do all the work throughout the labor. Then, the doctor comes in to pitch
the last out of the bottom of the ninth and gets credit for the win.
One thing I learned from my first experience in the delivery room was that
you can take that Lamaze instruction book and put it next to other books of similar
usefulness. "Sportsmanship Made Easy" by Mike Tyson and "Make Your Marriage Work"
by Elizabeth Taylor would round out your bookshelf. I DID try the techniques I was
taught in the Lamaze class at first. "O.k., Honey, HEE HEE, HOO HOO ... like
that ... c'mon, you can do it...HEE HEE, HOO HOO!"
"Gasp, gulp, you...choke.....jerk...gulp..."
"No, no, Honey, like this...HEE HEE HOO HOO..."
"Shut up and get the damned epidural guy in here before you get a fetal
monitor up your ass!"
I feverishly flipped to the index of the Lamaze book. "Shut up ... shut
up ... what to do if she threatens me with an enema of equipment." It wasn't in
there! The book went in the trash, along with the fetal monitor!
Oh, what a glorious invention, the epidural! My wife went from angry, nut
crunching psychosis to nice, sleepy, steady and boring. Sinead O'Connor to Mr.
Rogers in five easy minutes! After that, the pain was transferred to me. I felt
as though my head would explode.
From what I gathered during the delivery, telling a woman not to push is
like telling Dom DeLouise not to touch the last slice of pizza in the fridge. I
don't even know why they waste their breath. The more my wife pushed, the closer
my child came to the world outside it's cozy, heated Utero-condominium. Soon I
could see the top of the head. I suddenly felt like I was in a nature film. I
couldn't believe what I was looking at! I thought Jim Fowler was right next to me
with a tranquilizer gun. Thankfully, though, I was not fearful, but fascinated.
With the baby almost out, we were ready to take the hill! One final push
and my child was out! Covered in....stuff. Slime, goop, the plate off a '72 Pinto,
cords, parts, everything! I hoped the child looked better once it had it's first
shower. I was elated, my wife was elated and exhausted, and we had a child.
I now have two children and a third on the way. Though the awe of the
birthing experience remains a constant, the delivery experiences always vary, and
the end result is the miracle of life. I often see people upset and selfishly
annoyed at the idea of having children. All I can tell you is that the enrichment
they will bring you is immeasurable, and your love is returned tenfold. In a world
so full of agony, pain and turmoil.....what's a little poop?