Posts Tagged ‘Coral Springs Monthly’

SURVIVING CHILDBIRTH: A FATHER’S GUIDE

Within a few weeks, my daughter, Dominique, will give birth to my first grandchild. In honor of this historic (and eagerly anticipated) event, I’m reposting this cautionary column about the horrors of witnessing childbirth, which I wrote in 1987, two years after Dominique was born. It first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News and the Atlantic City Press in 1988, and was later reprinted in several other publications between 1988 and 2000.

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© 1987 Mark W. Mayfield

Childbirth is a beautiful, natural, miraculous event–unless you have to watch it. It then becomes a hideous spectacle that can cause permanent psychological scars. Watching his child enter the world is supposed to transform a red-blooded American manly man into a gentle, loving, devoted “daddy” who enjoys sipping decaffeinated coffee while swapping touching childbirth stories with other such men. But recent studies suggest that the opposite is true. After the experience, most men never want to look at their kids again. Unloved and neglected, these children grow up to be thieves, TV weathermen and politicians, thereby contributing to the moral decay of our society. Nevertheless, a growing number of gullible men are voluntarily participating in an activity that could lead to the total collapse of Western civilization.

It all begins innocently enough. Several months before her “due date,” your wife will ask you to accompany her to childbirth classes, in which a sadistic instructor will gleefully use graphic illustrations of a transparent pregnant woman to explain the various baby-making organs, including the uvula, the aviaries, the philodendron tubes and the surtax. During these classes, your wife will learn how to push and grunt. These are very important skills. Without pushing and grunting, your baby would have no reason to leave the comfort and security of the womb. It would stay inside mom for 15 or 16 years, or until it’s ready to start dating. When a woman in labor pushes and grunts, her body is saying, “Okay, kid, the free ride’s over! Get out here RIGHT NOW! I want my flat stomach back!”

Since there’s no guarantee that your wife will have a “normal” delivery, the instructor will make you watch a film about cesarean deliveries. Medically defined, a cesarean delivery is what occurs when an obstetrician realizes that he’s late for his golf game. The film makes “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” look like a Disney cartoon. Remember to close your eyes when the cheerful narrator says, “In many ways, a cesarean delivery is just like skinning a rabbit.” Other films in the course include “Changing a Diaper Without Losing Your Lunch” and “Making Inexpensive Baby Food with Spam and Lawn Clippings.”

Unfortunately, all the childbirth classes in the world won’t prepare you for the unspeakable horrors of (dramatic pause) the delivery room.

Shortly after you arrive at the hospital on “The Big Day,” (“The Big Day” occurs when your wife suddenly begins to experience automatic abdominal spasms called “contraptions”), a nurse who seems to be very attentive will promise to frequently check mommy’s condition. Take a very good look at this woman, because after she leaves the room, you’ll never see her again. She’ll sneak away to a secret nurse hide-out where she’ll guzzle huge plastic bottles of diet soda and read sleazy supermarket tabloids for the rest of her shift.

Meanwhile, the frequency and intensity of the contraptions will increase. This is when things begin to get ugly. As your wife strenuously attempts to evict her reluctant little tenant, the room will reverberate with hysterical screaming, uncontrollable sobbing and desperate cries for help, all of which will come from you. The patient, however, will feel no pain. Her body will contain more mind-altering drugs than that wild Doobie Brothers concert you enjoyed in 1977. But don’t worry, because these mind-altering drugs are expertly administered by a professional anesthesiologist who knows how to safely make a woman think she’s having her hair done when she’s actually having a baby. (Before a person can become a certified anesthesiologist, he must demonstrate his skills by successfully tranquilizing two fast-talking insurance salesmen and an excited sports announcer.)

The best thing you can do during this stage is to keep yourself occupied. Read a good book, whistle a catchy tune or eat a bologna sandwich. No, on second thought, don’t eat a bologna sandwich. Some men occupy themselves by videotaping the delivery. (Most of those men later destroy the tape without watching it.)

Several minutes later, somebody will say, “A few more pushes and grunts should do the trick.” At that point, you’ll hear something that reminds you of that squishy sound that rubber boots make in sticky mud. The doctor will then hold up an alien-like creature that is indescribably repulsive and unexplainably beautiful at the same time, but you won’t see it because you’ll be unconscious.

Mark Mayfield has survived two cesarean deliveries. His wife was by his side during both ordeals.