A friend of mine just had her third baby. (Yayyyyyy! Congrats Mama!) Her husband brought their two older kids to Church while she stayed home to rest (since their baby was born 2 days before) and while I was busy trying to congratulate the new Papa, I overhead a comment that made me want to lose my mind. While patting him on the back, an older gentlemen repeated more than once his congratulations, while reminding the new Dad, who was joyfully caring for his two older children solo, that he shouldn't really be congratulated on the birth as he had done NOTHING. I still have steam pouring out of my ears over this comment. I know for a fact that if my friend had been there, she would have sung the praises of her wonderful husband, but as she wasn't there he, cool as a cucumber, smiled very modestly and praised his wife for her excellence in all things.
So why am I, a woman who has personally pushed out 4 children, so upset? This couple's labour experience is %100 not my business, but I find the attitude that men have no job or place in the delivery room (or if you're super cool and do homebirths, in the living room!) so archaic and sexist. Yes, our husbands will never have to push a baby out their business, but that's okay, because they're not built to do that. Although my husband has said more than once that he would gladly take the pain rather than watch me fight through it. But that's not his job during labour. His job during labour is to stand by me, and be my rock. And he is. I have no idea how I would have survived my 4th labour without an epidural if he wasn't next to me, holding my hand, encouraging and empowering me, praying with me, and doing pretty much any reasonable thing I asked him quickly and with joy. The heart of service my husband shows me while I'm giving birth is nothing less than saintly. Beforehand, he also did every thing he could to learn about my needs and desires for labour, so that when I was in la la land during contractions, he could be my advocate. Nobody touched me let alone gave me an intervention without having to go through him. The doctors would have had a better chance doing something he knew I wouldn't have wanted if they had asked a hungry tiger while wearing bloody zebra steaks for coats.
Gone are the days of men puffing cigars in the waiting room while waiting for doctors to let them know how their wives fared. Fathers of this generation know all the lingo for labour, have educated themselves on what the mothers of their children want, and are there in the delivery room doing all they can to make sure all she has to worry about is getting through the next contraction or push. By the time we're done having kids, my Husband will be able to write a PhD thesis about labour, and give practical courses on massage therapy and how to scare the crap out of medical staff who don't show respect. And let's not forget that in the case of 2nd, 3rd, or 4th siblings, Dads go home after no sleep and an emotional roller coaster wilder than the wildest theme park, and get back to the business of parenting while waiting for Mum and the new baby to be released from the hospital. While some would call that "babysitting" (and if you do in front of me, I apologise for the fact that I may accidentally punch you in the throat), I call that real parenting.
Anyone who knows the real men, the real Dads of this generation and how hard they work for the women they love wouldn't dare say that they don't do anything during labour and delivery or afterwards. These are modest good men not looking for any praise, but that doesn't mean taking a swipe at their dignity and contribution to the life of their family is right. It's absolutely shameful that anyone should assume they have to right to even joke like that with the Dads of our generation. Men who would think to say that men like my husband or my friend's husband did NOTHING during labour, have a lot to learn about what it means to be a real man in this day and age.