Having your first child is a shocking, sobering experience. Or at least it is for a father. I would imagine it is for the woman as well, but women tend to have kooky, romantic delusions about the whole process for their entire life, so we can’t really take them seriously. (I’m kidding, I’m kidding!) I’ve personally yet to meet a first-time father who was not absolutely bat-shit petrified leading up to the big day, however, and I suppose this is only natural.
I believe that the biggest reason for this resides in the fact that, practically worshiping the female vagina for the vast majority of our entire lives, the deliberate, other-wordly act of stretching, ripping and disfiguring it permanently just feels and… looks — well, not normal. Criminal even. Yes, that’s the word — criminal!
Since I remember being ridiculously scared during my own daughter’s journey into this world — mainly due to the “advice” on what to expect from people who called themselves my “family” — I’ve decided to list the top five things that you’ll be able to take comfort in while scared shitless at the hospital. Seriously, it’s not that bad…. just don’t look when the baby’s coming out. Just uh… just um, don’t – DON’T do it, okay?
In order from comforting to… most… comforting:
5. The in-room television
Who cares if it may clock in at approximately 8-10 inches, you’d be surprised just how comforting it is to watch practically anything you can manage to get your grubby-little-eyes on while waiting for the baby to quit dragging its feet and frigging come out already. Even if you can’t find something you’re interested in via the exotic 4-5 available channel lineup, at the very least you can become a fully-certified expert in any and all upcoming events via the town’s local access channel. Always a good thing…
Ultimately, this little perk would be a lot higher on the list if the chair/bed the father is supposed to situate himself in for the entire birthing process wasn’t so damn small and evilly designed. Seriously, would it kill the hospitals to get a decent fold-out chair-bed for fathers to sleep in? I know we have absolutely nothing to do with the actual birth (you’ll be indoctrinated into this fact by the sometimes downright frighteningly pro-female nurses) but must we suffer in such conditions given the circumstances? It feels like we’re in the Outer Limits as it is, the least we could be afforded would be a chair-bed not designed for a malnourished teenager. Yay? Nay? May-bay?
Thankfully though, the nursery wing appears to spend the money saved on these ghetto sleeping-chair-beds and instead spent it on…
4.) The nursery wing mini-kitchen
This one is slightly mislabeled as I’m mostly referring to the small army of Italian Ices that can be found in most nursery wing kitchen freezers. Seriously, I would even recommend going to the extremes of calling some hospitals ahead of time in order to make sure that they do, indeed, have their kitchens appropriately stocked with suitable amounts of Italian Ices. I can’t emphasize enough just how much these seemingly small little treats calmed my nerves during my Twilight Zone-esque, baby-having Vision Quest.
Just so you know, though, the nurses will not take kindly to you if you single-handedly decimate the entire Italian Ice cache. Apparently, they’re for everyone… or something. If confronted on the matter, simply stand your ground and inform the nurse that you thought it would be okay since practically all of them were expired. And you’re starting to feel slightly nauseous. Should do the trick. And don’t feel bad if you do go ahead and eat the entire freezer-full, they help, so you go ahead and have as many as you want, okay? It’s not like hospitals don’t have their own Italian Ice-related pool of financial resources to dip into. Also, don’t be shy about requesting they go about getting some of the watermelon flavors in the freezer for you as well. Trust me when I say with a straight-face that they’re the frigging bomb-DIZZLE! (For those not fluent in ebonics and/or just straight gangster like me, this means they’re fucking delicious.)
The nursery wing kitchen or “personal kitchenette” as you too can annoyingly refer to it to your girlfriend/wife, is also stocked to the rafters with coffee, tea and sometimes — if you pay a small fortune in health insurance premiums each month, that is — even espresso. While this seems like a blessing at first, I strongly recommend you go EASY on the coffee and caffeine in general. At least until after the baby is born. You’re going to have enough anxiety as it is — you don’t need the extra jitters and nervousness that comes along with pounding 3-4 cups of black coffee per hour.
Regardless, whenever you’re raiding the nursery wing kitchen, just make sure you’re always on the lookout for…
3.) The nursery wing nurses
Technically, this one can go both ways as you’ll (unfortunately) find out. This is mainly due to the fact that there are two VERY different types of nurses in most hospital nursery wings and you can bet your ass they exist on polar opposites of the “how they view the male sex” spectrum.
The best kind is the motherly and/or oftentimes hot ones who’re sympathetic of both the mother AND the father (as they damn well should be). Even if you clean out the entire kitchenette of Italian Ices, crackers and coffee in a few short hours or accidentally set off some floor-wide alarm while trying to find a new shortcut, it’s okay. You’re under a lot of stress, they say (while you nod vigorously in response). Why they’re so nice compared to the mean pro-feminist nurses is currently unknown, but the truth may lie in the fact that the nice ones actually experience real human emotions such as empathy and understanding. Or maybe they just didn’t minor in “Extreme Feminism” in college – who can know for sure?
Best of all, the nice nurses usually try their best to laugh at all of your stupid jokes and/or answer your inane, self-serving questions seriously, a la: “Is it okay if I change the baby’s diaper too much?”
As for the mean nurses, I don’t truly know what caused them to be what they are or even why they seemingly traveled in packs. What I do know for sure is that these kinds of nurses are concerned only about the mother (via tough, tough-love) and usually come off as if they had just attended a women’s rights seminar back in 1932 or something. They’re usually (from what I can remember) not particularly good-looking and never EVER pass on an opportunity to inform you that you, as the father, have absolutely nothing to do with the actual birth. Or that you’re the root cause of all of the excruciating pain that exists while women go through labor and as such, you should go and lash yourself somewhere in secret. Mind you, they don’t tell you some of this stuff outright, but you can totally read it in their body language and see it in their fanatical eyes…
Oh and DON’T think you’re witty and charming enough to joke around with them and get them to like you. Doing this is absolutely futile and, by all accounts, absolutely-fucking-impossible.
Unfortunately, you’ll just have to take everything in stride. Like their snide comments to the mother about how men will never understand the pain of child birth and, thus, can never truly appreciate it. Your best bet is to pretend you’re doing something very serious whenever they enter the room – even if it’s standing inches away from the television studying the local access channel like your names about to pop up or something.
Also, when you hear the word epidural and are told to get out, just go with it even though the reasons they say why you need to leave make absolutely no fucking sense. Apparently, men can handle watching their significant others nether-regions beings stretched, ripped and disrespected by a new human being emerging from within them, but cannot handle watching a needle go in someone’s back. In reality, they just don’t want to fuck up and have a witness present that will ultimately be able to help sue the every-living shit out of them. But whatever, when you hear the word “epidural”, just view it as an excuse to go take a mini-vacation down at…
2.) The cafeteria (:D)
When one goes into the nursery wing kitchen, for example, they’re usually expected to return to the baby-birthing room within… oh, say a few minutes or so. On the other hand, when you go to the cafeteria – oh MY — you can be gone for hours and hours on end and it’s totally okay because you’re “down in the cafeteria!” Even mother-in-laws can’t bitch at you – it’s awesome!
I can’t speak for ALL hospitals, but the vast majority I’ve had the (usually) unfortunate fortune of attending have all had absolutely fantastic cafeterias. They serve everything you can possibly imagine and it’s almost like high school mixed with a buffet all over again — only without having to do your math homework while destroying a few cheeseburgers.
Craving some pizza? Well, they usually have at LEAST three different kinds for you to choose from: cheese, pepperoni and some weird-ass hippie kind that was dreamed up by the has-been head cafeteria chef. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t like to find summer squash anywhere near my frigging pizza. Nor spinach… or even zucchini (which I’m pretty sure is summer squashes cousin?). This is a cafeteria, after all, NOT a Michelin-star vegetarian restaurant in France. Stick to the basics in comfort food and you’ll be good to go. Thankfully though, they’ll absolutely, positively have cheese and pepperoni present. It’s like a rule or something.
Got a hankering for some chicken? They have these in spades as well, such as chicken nuggets, fried chicken and chicken sandwiches. If you’re REALLY lucky then your kid will be born during the hallowed buffalo chicken pizza special week. Alas, mine was not, but whatever. You win some and you lose some, am I right?
Now, if you like beef then most cafeterias have all sorts of beef as well, but I strongly recommend steering WELL clear of the meatloaf. It’s uh… yeah. Just don’t go near it and/or think about it and you’ll e okay. (This was actually a piece of advice given to me by a fellow first-time father in the cafeteria area – as I was looking at the meatloaf with my head tilted trying to decide what they made it from — and I took it to heart. As should you — tis a message worth spreading!)
As for you dessert-loving fathers out there (a la: all of us) then they have everything your chubby little heat desires in this realm as well (unsurprisingly). There’s cakes, yogurt parfaits and pudding – OH MY! It really is like elementary school lunchtime all over again, right down to the part where you get to choose regular or chocolate milk! There’s nothing like some good-old fashioned chocolate milk in-between…
1.) The basic baby classes
Not only do you get to pretend that you’re totally up for learning everything possible in regards to taking care of your new baby, but you also get to leave the
dungeon birthing room for a few hours a day. Cha-ching-ching — it’s a win-win!
Although as a word of warning, the nurses (and mother, usually) expect you to have read “What To Expect While You’re Expecting” cover-to-cover, which is odd because I’m quite sure if I had read the book all the way through, I sure as fuck wouldn’t be trying to take a baby class on how to properly burp a newborn. But whatever, thankfully they don’t quiz you or anything, so just nod and grin when they talk about it or shake your head frowning as if you couldn’t believe there’s actually fathers who haven’t read such an awesome book. The charlatans!
For me, the biggest benefit of the basic baby classes was facing and overcoming my fear of diaper changing. I have no idea, looking back, why I was so frigging scared about the diaper changing. Probably because I had so many nephews that I never had to change myself – I’d just watch other people do it and marvel at how complicated and magical it all seemed.
Other things you can learn in these classes is how to give the baby a sponge bath, how to hold it correctly/rock them to sleep and even how to burp them. Usually you can take these classes before (if the baby’s not supposed to arrive imminently) or after your child’s been born. I took most of mine before and had to learn how to do everything with a baby doll, which is totally unlike the real thing. Apparently, doing everything in the class with a living, breathing baby – usually your own baby, actually – is the best method. But if you’re itching to get out of that room (and trust me, you fucking will be), then baby classes are often your only true “out”.
Besides, taking the classes actually makes you look very mature and awesome in the eyes of the other mothers and nurses. And that’s always good.
In the end, just tell yourself that it’s not like you’re going to die during the whole process, and even if you started to, you’d be in a hospital so it’d be all good. Relax, stay clear-headed and just take everything moment-by-moment. It really isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be… just make sure you enjoy sleeping-in while you still can. That shit’s going to be impossible for you for a long, long time. Good luck! And congratulations!
Article by Josh Galligan