The anesthetist as he was performing Aden’s epidural, was very concerned about me, stating that I might want to sit down as many dads-to-be tend to pass out or get weak in the knees during the whole painkilling/birthing process. But not me. If I was shaky it was due to being tired and a little hungry (I ate while Aden had her nap after the epidural kicked in). But I found the whole process quite interesting, and was dutifully watching the doctors and nurses in all that they did.
When the shadow doctor discovered Aden was fully dilated, she left the room to fetch to on-call doctor, and we were left alone with our nurse, who started coaching Aden through labor. At one point she said “Oh, I can see the head… Dad do you want to see”, well I did and I didn’t want to, but I looked and there was a visible white patch with a mess of black hair. Watching the monitor for contractions, the nurse coached Aden to push with each contraction (force down into her bladder, like having a really, really difficult poop), to which Aden would clamp down, her hands behind her knees, pulling them to her chest and clenching her jaw like a weightlifter hauling up 450lbs. I was helping by holding onto Aden’s foot, giving her something to push up against (why they don’t have stirrups, I have no idea). With each contraction she got about four solid pushes. The baby’s head had crowned within minutes, and the nurse said to hold there, to allow for stretching instead of tearing, and likely for the doctor to return. It was the shadow doctor that finally returned, with an entourage of six other people with her. At that point the baby was coming out slowly through the force of the contractions alone, without Aden pushing. With one more push, the baby’s head emerged fully and I watched as the shadow doctor pulled the umbilical cord from around her neck. One push later and, *SPLOOSH* she pretty much launched out with a gushing tide of white fluid, landing sideways onto the receiving mat.
She was grey and a mess, and both Aden and I stared down at her, I’m sure both of us holding our breaths, a flood of worried, nervous emotions overcoming us as our little girl laid there, motionless for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably, at most, two seconds before her mouth started moving and a beautiful wail emerged, limbs flailing. With that tiny cry, I experienced not just the birth of my daughter but of unconditional love. Every feeling you can ever have as a parent comes to you in that moment, like fireworks, they just explode inside you. I looked at my wife, who stared back at me, and we both let loose tears. We kissed, and touched heads, a full sense of relief overcoming us. All around was a mess of blood and fluids and solids and such, and it’s not a pretty thing, but the moment, the moment is absolutely beautiful.
The doctor asked if I’d like to cut the cord, but I wanted to embrace my wife more than handle scissors, and literally (not symbolically) disconnect my daughter from my wife. The nurse said “Dad if you’ll come with me, we’ll get the baby cleaned up” while Aden passed the afterbirth, a not altogether pretty scene I caught out the corner of my eye. I grabbed the camcorder and started filming (at Aden’s request, I spared her the filming of the birth) the nurse wiping her down, and bundling her up. After putting some drops around her eyes, she passed her to me and I held my daughter for the first time. Was I proud? In the immortal words of Robert Evans, “you bet your ass I was.”