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Childbirth 101: A Father’s Perspective

Apr 132014
 
 By , April 13, 2014

The act of childbirth is no place for men

The gig is up, mothers!  After numerous hours of data collection and opinion surveys (Hey Frank, what do you think about our role during childbirth…?) we of the male species have concluded that we really aren’t useful at all during the birth of a child.  Therefore, please text us when the babe (babes in the case of twins or more) arrives.  We’ll be watching football on the widescreen and eating pizza rolls across the street.

Fathers useless at childbirth

You disagree. I’m sorry, but the evidence clearly speaks for itself.

You’re cleaning…again?  I know your instinct to ‘nest’ is coursing through your psych at this moment, but you have cleaned our home five times already.  It’s cleaner now than when it was first built.  I did the dishes for you, but you washed them a second time.  The Queen of England would be jealous at how immaculate our home looks as opposed to her dusty old Windsor Castle.  Stop cleaning and let’s focus on which NFL onesy outfit you’re going to dress the baby in when we bring her home from the hospital.

Yes, I know where we’re going.  All of our other children were born at the same hospital.  The car knows how to get there on its own.  I’ve brokered a deal with our GPS device in the car to steer us away from any potential traffic jams, road closures or speed radar traps.  I’ve even driven from our house to the hospital and timed it.  So why did I ignore all of that and choose to take the freeway during rush hour instead?  You see, dear, we males have a small bit of copper (probably from swallowing those pennies when we were three) that has pooled inside the tip of our nose.  We are the very manifestation of a human compass.  Don’t worry, that jackknifed semi up ahead shouldn’t slow us down too much; plus, I know a shortcut through a cotton field nearby.  No, you can’t have the baby in the car!  Think of the leather!  Try to focus on something pleasant, like puppies, to distract your mind.

Lamazing.  You know all of those things we were taught in the Lamaze childbirth classes we attended?  None of it works.  Now that you’re actually in active labor you are supposed to be breathing the way they taught you.  Look here, I’m doing it and I feel just fine.  In fact, I have so much oxygen flowing through my veins right now that I’m going to go for a jog around the hospital grounds.  But you’ll have to let go of my hand.  Yes, you did break two of my fingers.  But don’t worry; I’m going to apply for disability or PTSD.  With all of your squeezing and screaming (and some cussing) I think I’ll qualify easily.

Cold, cruel room.  I clearly should not have been in the room at the time the baby was actually being born.  Do I look like I have a medical degree?  What, exactly, could I have done to help Dr. Finklestein if you or the baby were in trouble?  I tried to cover up your nakedness, but the doctor kept throwing my t-shirt off of you and yelling at me to move out of the way.  The nerve!  Oh, by the way, that little area we talked about…it’s a freckle, not a mole.  With nurses buzzing in and out constantly, meeting your every need, there just wasn’t anything for me to do.  Plus, do you realize the suffering we fathers go through during delivery?  The room is cold, the nearby recliner is uncomfortable and they don’t do room service.  I’m starved!  Watching you work so hard is really giving me a craving for chili cheese dogs and a soda.

So you see; it’s clear that we fathers are as worthless as a three dollar bill during the childbirth process.  In fact, I remember an old movie with Robert Redford (Jeremiah Johnson I think) in which Jeremiah is a trapper in the Rocky Mountains and comes across a native father leading his pregnant wife, on horseback, into the middle of the forest to give birth.  She dismounted, grabbed a good size boulder and tree branch, burped once and frowned twice, and gave birth to a healthy little boy.  All of this happened while her husband sat stoically on his own horse, gazing the opposite direction (I assume looking for wolves or pesky salesmen.).  See what I mean?  Even in centuries past, the husband still really doesn’t have anything important to do.

If we decide to have another child, I’d like to volunteer to stay in the car…and look for wolves.

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Michael Larson is newly minted Texan. He is a retired teacher, current university librarian, and a future 'great American' author.
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