Earlier today one of my former professors emailed me this article about a French obstetrician who suggested that fathers shouldn't be in the delivery room. Dr. Odent conducted a study that found the presence of the father in the delivery room caused undue stress on the mother, and even a reduced production of oxytocin which aids the body in delivery. My professor wanted my opinion on this article.
You see, once upon a time I was a labor and delivery nurse. It was hands down one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs I have ever had the fortune of performing. That's not to say there weren't times when I hated my job.
In fact, I spent much of each day with sore feet, an aching back, and a migraine pounding behind my eyes because let's face it--women in labor scream bloody murder A LOT. They are frightened, in pain, and misery really does love company.
Labor and delivery nurses spend their days covered in various bodily fluids with strangers shrieking at them (or just shrieking in general) and worried family members demanding they "do something" about the "pain" the mother-to-be is experiencing. Sorry to break it to you, but it's going to hurt no matter what we nurses do.
I have actually had things thrown at me in the delivery room. Birthing mothers are not all calm and angelic (some are). Most are actually harpies bent on destruction. Yeah, okay, that's not nice. It is, however, true. The harpies are miraculously transformed into smiling and peaceful women following the arrival of their baby, but during the labor and delivery most women are virtual nightmares.
So why do it? Why do a job that is admittedly gross and obviously stressful?
That depends on who you ask. Most people do it for the moments that come after the baby is born. It really is wonderful to see two people (and sometimes a whole roomful of people) literally glowing with joy. Some people do it for the birth itself. It is amazing what women's bodies are capable of. There is something overpoweringly spiritual about watching an infant take its very first breath as it emerges into this world from the safety of its mother's womb. There is also something warm and fuzzy about providing laboring women with comfort. The job is filled with an overabundance of jouissance--bliss so powerful that it is, in this particular instance, literally painful.
Those are all great reasons to do the job, but those aren't my reasons. I enjoyed all of the aforementioned emotional benefits of labor and delivery nursing, but none of those things kept me coming into work every day.
I came to work every single day for the first time parents--the first time daddies in particular. I know, most nurses are there for the mommies and my job was all about the mommies-to-be and to a certain extent the new babies. But the mommies weren't my favorite part.
First time fathers were my favorite part of the job. You see, when a man see his very first baby for the very first time there is this breathtakingly beautiful moment where joy and awe and fear and the dawning realization that he is now a father all pass across his face in a matter of seconds. There's this look--this first time daddy look--and it is the singular most amazing part of the labor and delivery experience.
My cousin Heather was kind enough to share a photo that very nearly captures this moment with me and all of you. This is her husband, Jerold, holding their first daughter Katelyn for the very first time. It's miraculous:
I think men only have that look in them once. It's a look that always took my breath away and made my heart flutter. It's that look that made me realize after years of swearing I'd never have children that I do in fact want children.
So for that look alone I would say daddies belong in the delivery room.