Being a dad harder than becoming a fatherWhen Nancy and I had our first child, dads weren’t allowed in the delivery room where all the action was taking place. That’s hard to imagine these days. It looks to me like it’s assumed that the dad will be right there through it all, sometimes with a camcorder and a really sensitive microphone to capture the cries of the laboring mother and the coo of the newborn baby.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
When Nancy and I had our first child, dads weren’t allowed in the delivery room where all the action was taking place.
That’s hard to imagine these days. It looks to me like it’s assumed that the dad will be right there through it all, sometimes with a camcorder and a really sensitive microphone to capture the cries of the laboring mother and the coo of the newborn baby. I generally haven’t been all that excited about the opportunity to view the recording of someone’s delivery-room excitement, but I can understand why the participants get so fired up about it. Some pretty amazing things happen in there.
It would have been unthinkable to have asked about recording a birth back in 1967 when our daughter was born. It was just the mom and the doctor and the delivery room nurses. At least that’s what I assume it was. I wasn’t there.
I’d been there for the preliminaries, including a rude awakening in the middle of the night with the news that it was time to head for the hospital. We lived just off Cliff Avenue at 21st Street, so it was only a couple of blocks from our front door to McKennan’s front door. We made it with me carrying a small suitcase and Nancy having contractions every second or third light pole.
I had to wait in the hall while the nurses got Nancy into a bed, which seemed odd. I’d seen her get into bed before, but it was their hospital. Once they had her situated, they came for me, and I got to stand by the bed squeezing her hand while she went through the contractions that precede delivery. When the time came, I walked on one side of the rolling bed and Dr. V.V. Volin walked on the other side. At a set of double doors, a nurse took my arm and gently held me back while the doctor, Nancy and the rolling bed disappeared.
When the doors swung shut, the nurse led me down a hall and around a corner to a small room with a television and half a dozen chairs, each located next to a small table that held a stack of magazines and an ashtray. A couple of guys were already in the room, but they ignored me in favor of the television. They took deep drags on their cigarettes as they watched an early morning program. I’m guessing the program was quite awful, but guys consigned to the dads’ waiting room didn’t have a lot of choices in those days. It was either TV or a three-month-old “Field and Stream” magazine.
I’ve never been a smoker, but for those few hours in the waiting room, it seemed like a fine thing to be. Short of that, there was nothing to do but wonder what was happening behind the swinging doors and when would somebody come and report an outcome. When a nurse came for one of the other expectant fathers, it took about a half hour for me to realize even he wasn’t going to come back and favor me with a report on how their pregnancy had turned out.
Finally, it was my turn. The nurse and I arrived at the delivery room just as a bed was wheeled out. Nancy was cuddling the littlest ball of pinkish wrinkles I’d ever seen, and I could hardly stand on my feet when the little thing opened its eyes and looked smack into my heart.
“We have a daughter,” Nancy said.
When our first son was born about 15 months later, I was in the delivery room for the whole thing. I was there again nine years later when our second son was born. It’s a crazy, wild place to be, but it beat the heck out of hanging around a smoky room with an old “Sports Illustrated” and a couple of strangers.
On Father’s Day, I sometimes like to think back on Dec. 8, 1967, and remember how easy it was to become a father but how much work it has taken to become a dad. I’m still working on that part.