minutes passed to hours with little progress (as though
birth could be measured in milestones of good or bad), I
felt like I was getting smaller. The swirl of machines and
nurses and doctors somehow made me feel less visible—
and less needed. But toward the end, when we knew we
were getting close, all of that gave way to a laser focus.
Ginger and I looked at each other through each contraction, as though we could see into each other’s bodies,
with a love and understanding that made me feel in perfect sync with her. And when we got to hold that little
boy, some nine months and 17 hours after we started that
journey, I was simply stunned. I was stunned at Ginger
and how amazing she had been on that difficult day; I
was stunned by the little precious body I was holding in
my arms; and I was stunned by the overwhelming sense
of love and protection I felt, so much stronger than I
expected. It was a different kind of love than I had felt
before—deeper, more thorough, away from my heart
and my mind and into my bones, my cells, every part
of me. It was a love for life, for all things, always and in
all ways. And it took over my life in ways beautiful and
unexpected, like it has each day since.
As the years went by and we learned more about
raising a child—which was much easier now that we
actually had one—we began to think of things we might
do differently if we were ever blessed enough to have another. For example, Kai received some vaccinations, but
we knew that we would not vaccinate our other children.
We also knew that we would carry our next child in the
sling more, and cuddle more. So when Ginger came to
work one afternoon and blew me away with her “
positive” pee stick, I just knew that it would all be okay the
second time around.
And then she told me that she wanted midwives
instead of doctors. And wanted to give birth at home.
In water. And I freaked.
and as a dad, my role was
cri Tical—i had to be the
driver to ensure all oF
this haPPened on schedule.
Beyond the Comfort Zone
I don’t think I freaked out in an obvious way, but on the
inside I just did not know what to think. My paradigms
of how a child should be born had already been twisted
once; couldn’t I at least hold on to something, like an
OB-GYN and a hospital? I was almost consumed by
worry, on several levels:
Would our insurance cover a homebirth with midwives?
Did midwives have enough training to do this?
What if something went wrong? Wouldn’t we want to be
at a hospital?
I had such a good rapport with our male OB-GYN; would
that change with a female midwife?
In time, my hesitancy about the first three concerns
melted away. There was no way in hell that our insurance would pay for it, but we had the money to pay a
midwife out of pocket; the difference in costs between a
OB-GYN/hospital and midwife were simply staggering,
with midwives costing about a tenth as much. I remembered the negative aspects of our hospital experience—
the machines, the induction of labor, the overwhelming
sense that this most human and natural of experiences
was being molded to fit a pre-defined process—and suddenly realized that having more control over the environment and choices would be a great gift. And as I learned
more about our midwives, and about midwifery in general, I came to understand and respect the amazing ability
and knowledge they had—so my concerns about their
ability to solve problems, large or small, was also erased.
But the last problem was huge for me. With our first
child, I felt truly connected with our OB-GYN. He knew
so much, and, more critically for me, he understood a
father’s perspective—what we worry about, what we
hope for, and how we express it or choose not to. In all
of our visits, he responded to my nervous questions
with humor and candor, and I felt like we had a “guy
thing” going on that made this traditionally “feminine
experience” accessible to me. In short, he helped me see
that it was okay to be a man and yet be fully engaged in
every aspect of the pregnancy and birth, concerned and
emotional along the way. For me, the joys and overall
positive experience of Ginger’s first pregnancy and Kai’s
birth were enabled by his understanding and demeanor.
And now I had to deal with women. I have no problem at all with women; in fact, I like women a heck of
a lot more than I like men. But I now had to take this
intensely personal experience, one in which my wife
and I connected on a level beyond what I had known to
be possible, and share it with someone who had already
been there and done that.
I was sad. I was nervous. And more than anything, I
was jealous. I’m not talking “I just saw my girlfriend with
another man” jealous. I’m talking about a jealousy that
was all-consuming and actually depressing in its depth.
The jealousy sprang, in the main, from my concern