childbirth, Dan

An Ode to the Other Half, Part Two: Birth Partner

In this series, I’m giving my partner, Dan, his due as a fantastic partner at all stages of our journey to parenthood. Today, I’m going to talk a little about how he prepared for and participated in the birth of our child. I can honestly say that Elliot’s birth would not have been the largely positive experience that it was without Dan’s help.

I’ve already told the story of Elliot’s birth and how I used my Hypnobabies techniques to keep calm and mostly comfortable during labor, especially before getting an epidural. I’ve also talked about how my first epidural started failing on one side because it was improperly placed and I had to have it redone while experiencing the height of pitocin contractions. But that’s the middle. Let’s start at the beginning.

First of all, though he was dubious about its effectiveness, Dan was always willing to participate in the Hypnobabies training. He took to the scripts and the cues right away, and I felt confident that he would be able to help, which made the anticipation of labor less scary. We checked into the hospital at 4pm the day of my induction and he stayed with me for the entirety of my hospital stay, which was almost 36 hours of labor, a c-section, and four additional days, sleeping on couches and staying up all night to soothe the baby so I could rest and recuperate as much as possible.

When we first got into the perinatal room, he helped figure out the TV options while I chatted with the nurse, and later on, he made sure that I could comfortably eat while mostly stuck in bed because of the monitors. Other than the time he spent sleeping the first night (I was pretty oblivious to my increasing contractions while on Cytotec, so I let him sleep as much as he could), he was engaged in the process and made sure to touch base with the nurses to know what was going on. He also was in charge of bringing my cold snacks to the nurses’ station to get them refrigerated, and then fetching gelatin and broth for me later on. I ate a lot of gelatin after we moved to labor and delivery.

But Dan truly started to shine when my contractions became more intense on pitocin. I had a private conversation with him that I was thinking I should get an epidural before I mentioned it to anyone else, and he supported me, while also encouraging me to wait until I talked to the doctor and the doula again, so that I didn’t regret getting it too early. When I did finally decide it was time for the epidural, he was right there with me, helping me relax through the contractions while I had to sit up for the anesthesiologist.

And when that epidural failed and I didn’t think I could keep going on, he was right there with me. I’m so glad our doula was able to snap the picture above of him comforting me through what would turn out to be the worst part of my labor experience. When I had to sit up for the second epidural placement, he was right there with me, helping me with relaxation cues to help me through the contractions while staying still for the epidural. I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to do it without him.

Eventually, we decided that it was time to move to the c-section, and I was so glad they allowed him in with me. I had to go in first, to get prepped, and then they showed him in. I was having really bad shakes from the spinal and it was making me anxious, which made me shake even worse. As soon as Dan came in and sat next to me, he started using Hypnobabies cues and some tricks the doula showed him to help me relax. Even though he claims it didn’t look like it made a difference, I felt much more relaxed and felt like I was shaking less.

Once Elliot came out (greeting the world with a fountain of urine!), Dan was the one to cut the cord and held him the rest of the time the doctors were finishing up. And once I was back in recovery, doing skin-to-skin time, Dan and my nurse made sure to watch us so that I didn’t have to worry about feeling drowsy from the effects of the anesthetic (and over 36 hours of labor and surgery with very little sleep!).

Throughout our hospital stay and the weeks after, he was the one who made my recovery possible. When I had trouble picking up Elliot because of my incision, he reminded me that most people who have abdominal surgery are told not to lift anything, rather than “nothing heavier than the baby,” so that as long as I had him to help, he would do the lifting. Every night when Elliot woke up to nurse, Dan was right there to pick him up out of the bassinet and hand him to me. Sometimes, Dan is better at soothing him to sleep than I am!

His quiet resilience and willingness to help with everything that was possible for him to do made it possible for me to rest and recover from my surgery, while his emotional support has helped me through some of the mentally toughest moments I’ve had. I feel lucky to have such good support and know Elliot feels lucky to have such a good dad.

[photo by Jenny Corbett]

Dan, Parenting, pregnancy

An Ode to the Other Half, Part One: Pregnancy Partner

So while this is largely a blog about my experience going through pregnancy, so far, parenting is going to be a partnership for us. And I’ve mentioned my husband, Dan, both in the “About” section of this website, and in posts when he comes up. But I thought I’d feature him a little more since he really has been a true partner throughout my pregnancy, and I expect will continue to be a true partner as I go through childbirth and parenting.

I’ve found an enormous amount of support and help as I’ve gone through trying to conceive, pregnancy loss, and pregnancy through the various subreddits of which I am a member on Reddit. And as I’ve gone through the last almost two years since we first started making plans for children, I’ve noticed that a lot of women complain about their partners. First, their partners don’t want children as much as they do. Then their partners don’t appreciate what they go through to determine when they’re fertile. Then, they don’t understand pregnancy symptoms or loss. Some partners seem to think that pregnancy symptoms are an exaggeration or that all pregnancies are the same, so if they’ve known one person who was pregnant, they know how their partner is going to react.

And this is where Dan seems to rise above much of the crowd: Through everything, he listens to me and believes me. It helps that he actually wanted kids more than I did at first, but he was supportive while I figured out what I wanted, rather than pressuring me. And then from there, he’s taken in all the information I’ve given to him, or sought it out for himself. He trusts my research and believes me when I tell him something about my body. And he’s not squeamish about bodies. I mean, he’s the one who had to go buy extra-absorbent pads during my miscarriage and incontinence pads when pregnancy made me start peeing myself.

This really showed itself in the first trimester of this pregnancy, though. I got hit hard with nausea, and he never complained about the fact that I could barely do anything outside of meet my professional obligations. He would let me come home and flop on the sofa rather than make dinner. He made one of the three dinners I could actually eat, and made sure not to eat anything that smelled bad to me. Heck, when one of his video games made me throw up, he never played it again. He took care of me, in all senses of the word. And he never expected any particularly praise or adulation for it. It was just what you do.

Luckily for both of us, my nausea faded as I moved into the second trimester and I’ve mostly been able to pick up my standard duties around the house. I’ve even started joining him in nesting (he got bit by the nesting bug basically as soon as I had a positive test and has been cleaning, organizing, and putting things together for months). And I cook most nights now. But he still supports me, mostly by picking up things that fall on the floor, or taking things up and down the stairs when I forget them. He does all our laundry, since our basement stairs are a bit nerve-wracking, even without the balance challenges of a growing belly (plus, I can’t actually bend over to pull clothes out of our top-loading washer!).

And he’s continued to take in all the information. He’s readĀ The Birth PartnerĀ and uses what he’s learned to connect with me about preparation for childbirth. When we packed our hospital bags, he pulled out the book to double-check things we might not have thought of, like a pair of swim trunks for him in case he wants to get in the shower with me to help me labor. And he’s continued, reading the childcare books that I’ve read, so that we’re on the same page. He reminds me to do my Hypnobabies exercises.

So I guess I wanted to take some space here to, yes, brag about my husband. He deserves it, and I think the rest of the world deserves a bit of praise for a husband of a pregnant lady because partners and coparents can be the butt of so many jokes about men falling short. But despite the fact that we both annoy each other on a regular basis, he’s one of the good ones.