Partners in the Labour Ward

For want of a better word, my partner was useless in the labour ward. Normally, he is not at all useless. In fact in almost every other real world context, I would describe him as a pretty supportive hands-on unbelievably brilliant bloke who is my soul mate.

So I couldn’t understand why, when I was in labour, the world suddenly became about his need for food, sleep and the bathroom.

Am I the only one who is like, “Seriously?! I’m in labour here! This is meant to be my ONE moment!!!”

He was so useless that it got to the point where I wanted his needs to be sorted out so that I didn’t have to deal with his hunger and his exhaustion woes. That and when he left the room to find food it was a relief!

A part of me wondered/hoped if maybe it was because he found watching his wife go through birth so traumatic that it rendered him incapable. At least then I could use his intense love for me as an excuse, right? Maybe I just needed to put the shoe on the other foot.

So, the other day, I asked him, “What was it like for you when I was labour?”

His reply astounded me,

“Well I guess it was slow with a lot of boring sitting around as there was not a lot I could do until the actual birth bit. Then, I could be useful and hold your leg while you pushed.”

I seriously nearly passed out in shock.  Really? Not a lot to do??? Did we go to the same ante-natal class? Were we in the same labour room experiencing that almost unbearably long labour?

I’d figured that most women must have had the same experience as me. But it’s not true. I’m constantly surrounded by women who refer to their husbands as being these stoic superhero support partners. These women have partners poised to handle their whim, who manage to interpret her every facial expression accurately so she doesn’t even need to ask before he has dutifully helped out. He kicks out the people who give her an uncomfortable twitch in her eye, rubs ice on her lips, soothes her between contractions, keeps her company - Who refuse to leave her side no matter WHAT!

After a long period of intense labour, I asked for an epidural. Once this was in, my guy described this as the really boring bit where he was glad he’d brought a book along. Next time pack one for me too please, love…. or at least kick out the student doctor who’s been in here for an hour chatting to me?!?

For days I’ve mulled on this experience and the possibility that my husband was not the man of my dreams like I had originally thought.

It’s ok folks.

I’ve since realised that yes, he is the man of my dreams and always will be. But perhaps he is not the best person to have in the labour ward for future deliveries. Or, if he is, we need to have a serious chat before the special event!

In the meantime, somewhere deep down I will always wish that labour had been a more intimate experience for us and I must admit, I am a little envious of women who describe angels standing by their side as they give birth.

And I guess I’m wondering, do I have the wrong expectations? Am I alone in this? Or did you have a similar experience with your partner?

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