Here are 10 things they don’t tell you about the delivery room.
1. You will look.
Oh, you’ll not want to look. You’ll want to avoid and eschew looking. You’ll want to hide behind the couch and cover your eyes like the first time you saw the end of Raiders. Thousands of years of primordial evolutionary instincts will all align in your brain, forming a united front like soldiers at a castle siege shouting, “You DO NOT KNOW what hideous terrors lurk in a location you usually enjoy visiting.” But you will look. You will look because you’re a grownup, and a father, and that is your baby’s mother, albeit not exactly presented in a way you might initially recognize. Also, you kind of can’t not look—it’s not like there’s anything more interesting happening in the room.
2. Your woman will blow chunks in a container you’re holding.
In my case, a laughably tiny plastic crescent that, if we’re being generous, might have contained eight fluid ounces. (Seriously, hospitals, I know there’s a health care crisis afoot but these ladies cannot be expected to projectile-vomit into a glorified shot glass.) Oh, and the throwing up might be due simply to pain. You have probably never vomited from pain, unless you’ve been drilled in the nether regions with an intramural fastball, which totally happened to this dude I knew in college, and man that was a weird day, you’re like, do I laugh at this (because balls) or try to help (because throwing up)? That day was a waterfall of emotions, is what I’m saying. This one is simpler. Resist the urge to make awesome jokes. And don’t vomit back, it’s bad form.
3. There might be an episiotomy.
If you don’t know what this is, go Google it, we’ll wait. “That wasn’t even the worst part,” says my wife, and if you’re having a day where an inch-long incision to your vagina isn’t the worst part, you’re having a humdinger of a day.
4. There will be blood.
The average human contains 5,000% more blood than you think. See above.
5. The epidural might not take.
True story: My wife was drug-free for both of our kids, and hated it each time. First time was elective; the second time the line with the wondrous pain-deleting drugs kept popping out. JUST POPPING OUT. Like they stuck a giant needle in her back and went (bubble-pop noise), not once but twice.
6. The baby will be born.
And when babies are born they are seriously squished together and effed-up—you expect them to be adorable, but they emerge looking like expressionless versions of Winston Churchill or maybe George “The Animal” Steele. They’re also covered in such delightful bodily materials as blood, amniotic sac, and flakes. I’m not sure what the flakes are and I’m not looking up what the flakes are. I already had to investigate episiotomies today.
7. You will cut the cord.
And you will have to put some back into it, because unless my wife had some sort of super-reinforced military-grade umbilical thing happening, it is not like participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Y. I needed like three or four good squeezes to get through that thing; it was like trimming a garden hose, or slicing an extremely well done steak.
8. You will wipe space tar off your infant.
INTERESTING FACT: A human child’s first poop is not poop. It is a sticky tar-like substance called meconium that has the special chemical property of being both magically adhesive and midnight black. You will never again attempt to clean something so foul off of something so precious; it’s like trying to use paper towels to wipe rubber cement off “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” Apparently this material is some ghastly byproduct of living nine months in a water sac located inside another person, which only sort of makes it okay.
9. The placenta is coming!
I’m not gonna lie. I totally bailed for this part. Women handle this kind of thing all the time, but there’s only so much a man can take. IMPORTANT NOTE: If anyone in the room attempts to seize the placenta for eating, planting, brewing, bronzing or making into a smoothie, it’s totally okay to strangle them with an IV cord.
10. They hand you the baby.
Yes, when this gooey business is all sewn up, a medical professional will hand you a living, breathing infant, just right there in the room, no matter how many times you assure them that there is probably someone else around who is better equipped to handle it. It’s like receiving a secret package, except most secret packages come with instructions or directives or at least the phone number of a trusted contact you can call. Not here. Here they had you the baby like you have any idea what to do with it, with an oddly trusting look that says, “Alright, friend-o. You’re up.”