“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” Ephesians 5:25
When I talk to my parents about how they dealt with the delivery of my brothers and me, I get very vague descriptions of what happened. In my family, “vague descriptions” don’t happen. We have great stories describing trips to a yard sale, so I know something is up with the whole child-birthing experiences of my parents.
In a nutshell, here is what I found out.
Fact #1: My parents had three children. This fact is verifiable because, well, I remember having two brothers. We would usually spend time together, playing catch in the backyard and wrestling each other for the extra chicken leg at dinner. I don’t remember much from childhood, just a bunch of playing and sleeping and sometimes fighting family members for leftovers.
Fact #2: My mother had all three of her children in a hospital. No cornfields or living rooms for my mother, no. She was there, in the hospital, ready to have children.
Fact #3: My father didn’t show up at every birthing experience. I don’t blame him, though. The seventies—when we were all born—were a time of transition for childbirth. Fathers weren’t automatically welcome in the delivery room, but toward the end of the decade, daddies seemed to be invited in more often. Either way, my Dad was in the room for some of my delivery. Then, my mother kicked him out of the room because he was annoying her.
Fact #4: Nurses took care of many things in the hospital during the recovery process back then. Mom or Dad didn’t have to do much, except for recover from the delivery. (In Dad’s case, he didn’t even have to do that!)
Considering past years, I really could have been a Dad from back then. Having almost no responsibility for our child, while also enjoying Jonah’s life, would have been a nice, relaxing way to begin parenthood.
I wish someone were there to offer guidance. Someone who has had success in all this. No such luck.
First, doctors and nurses came in and out of our room like it was a shortcut between the ER and the cafeteria. We had everybody from the cleaning lady to the candy stripers coming in there, taking care of Sunday. I just wish they didn’t have to do any “caring” at 3am, though.
Also, our hospital required us to decide whether we wanted Jonah in the room or not. In the old days, the baby was brought in, but not too often. My parents didn’t have too much control over whether “the old poop factory” was going to keep quarters with his parents. They happily looked through the glass of the nursery, wanting to touch the baby. They were happy because they couldn’t smell through the glass.
For us, the decision-making effort caused undue stress. After all, who wants to say, “We don’t want our day-old child in the room with us. He’s really getting annoying.” On top of that, we really didn’t know what we were doing. Really. It wore us out, trying to act like we had confidence in the steps we were making as parents.
Unlike my father, I had my duties as new Dad, both while we were in the hospital and later when we left. None of them—and I mean none of them—were expected. NONE! I had no one tell me about any of these duties. I am bitter about that, too. I heard horror stories, but I really didn’t get the lowdown on what my duties may have been. The fathers I knew relayed their stories in the “dating experience told in the locker room” genre of storytelling, which requires much laughter, much detail, and not much accuracy. I don’t mind doing tough, exhausting or gross stuff, but I like to be forewarned.
The next few posts will provide expected duties for all fathers in the 21st century. Tell your friends....