It’s been nine long months. Nine months of endless waiting around, of buying little outfits and wrestling the crib together and standing there holding your lady’s hair back while she hurls up her eclectic lunch once again.
But enough of all that, because it’s Go Time! There is a baby getting born here to you two tonight/tomorrow, and your life is about to become something better/crazier/and more insanely beautiful than you have ever dared to dream.
Still, there is this whole business of standing there, arms wide open, as you stare up at the stork in the sky.
There is still this whole business of getting your Prangel (Pregnant Angel; my creation!) to the hospital and seeing her through the most epic day of your lives.
Up in Maternity, it’s a whole different ballgame. And, lucky for you, Mr. Daddy Newguy, I got all the inside scoops you’re ever gonna need to get you where you need to go.
1. Be Classy
Go to the classes your Prangel (Pregnant Angel; my creation!) wants you to go to. Sure, getting up early on a Saturday morning to go sit in a conference room at the hospital might sound uncool, but take it from me: it rules. Not only do you get off on the right fathering foot, learning equal parts science and common sense, but you also show her from the get-go that you are right and ready for this.
2. Mr. Early Bags
Overnight kit/knapsack/man-bag/whatever you want to call it: get that packed up and ready to roll pretty well in advance. Believe me when I tell you that you don’t want to be the dude trying to recall where he put his razor when she is out in the car counting the seconds between contractions. Get yourself set up two weeks before her due date, throw the bag in the trunk, and you’ve got one less thing to worry about. Incidentally, if she is running around packing last minute things for herself keep your trap shut!
3. Skip That 7-11
You’re on your way, now. You’re both in the car and you’re holding hands and there is electric magic in the air between the two of you. And then: what’s this? You’re seriously doing a quick pit stop at the mini-market to dump in three dollars of unleaded and grab some beef jerky for the ride? My friend, there are many mistakes you will be forgiven in this life. This is not one of them. Drive her to the hospital.
4. Boombox Mama
You like your music? Hooray for you. Guess what? You’re not about to blast out the end of a nine-month tunnel of swollen ankles, constant puking, and fifty tinkles an hour just to top it off with a little human delivery. Let the lady pick the tunes. On the ride and in the room, every song. Trust me, she doesn’t wanna listen to your Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison album just now.
5. Nurse Love
You’re a little jittery, a little on edge. It’s perfectly understandable, man. You’re about to become a dad; there’s pressure in that. But, remember that those women and men who work in the Maternity Ward are usually pretty magnificent at what they do. Try and be cool with them, and let them see you are a grateful classy Future Papa. It’s pretty rare that any of them want anything but smooth sailing for the little lady, the baby, and you.
6. The King of Flexibility
Ok, I’m not trying to convince you to get all rubbery like this guy does. (Though if I could bend like that, I’d be doing it all over the delivery room.) What I’m trying to say is don’t check into the hospital with some big vision about how things are going to be. Even if Baby Mama has a hundred-page Birth Plan, you need to be there for her when things change. And ask any guy who’s been there, things will change. Just be cool, cowboy. She’s gonna thank you for it later.
7. The Night is Long, Long, Long
There is no telling how Father Time is going play a role in the birth of your child, but you can bet that he will be a playa in the game. Hey, you and your Prangel (Pregnant Angel; my creation!) might be on your way to the hospital and Shazam! She might have the kid in the car. It happens. More likely, though, you will have some waiting around to do once you’re all checked in. So, try and be patient and help her through the long hours slogging by. That bambino is coming soon enough!
8. Ask Questions, Fool!
What is that needle you’re sticking in her spine bone? What happens when our baby first arrives? Where did you get that stylish stethoscope? Don’t be intimidated by doctors and nurses just because they seem busy. They are there to answer any and all questions either of you might have throughout your stay. I once asked our nurse if I could spread the ultra-sound jelly on my wife’s belly. And she let me. So, that’s one thing checked off the old Bucket List.
9. The Fine Art of Hand Holding
Believe it or not, there are many opportunities for subtle yet graceful romantic moments in the hours leading up to your baby being born. And you will often find yourself in a position to hold your lady’s hand, and you should do it too. But don’t be the squeezer, man. Always let her squeeze to her heart’s content, but if you start squeezing back be prepared for a fire breathing dragon to torch your head. Also: you have no idea how strong your Baby Mama is. Your hand is in for it.
10. The Evil Eye
She loves you. Or, at the very least she’s pretty glad that you are there. But remember, someone who has been pregnant for a very long time is now going through one of the most physically challenging things this life offers up. So, if she seems, at times, a little grumpy or flustered, and you think she’s taking it out on you, well, you may be right. And you need to take it and smile and hold her hand (but not too tightly, remember?). In three years, you’ll be feeling the wrath of toddler tantrums that will make all this seem like it was a quiet afternoon in the country.
11. Here Comes the Son!
Straight up, friend. Do not look down at The Magic Portal unless she has invited you to visit. Either plan it all out ahead of time (my recommendation) or go ahead and ask if it’s ok mid-shebang. But, if you think you can just wander down there to take in the sights any old time you want without advance notice you might just have another thing coming.
12. Ham Hands
Women in labor often love a little massage, a little muscular hootchie-coo when the going gets tough. Yet, I’m going to go ahead and advise you that you’d better be sure she is in the mood before you start in with those ancient caveman noogies you give out freely. Listen to her. Ask her if she’d like a shoulder rub, and if she does, start out slooooow and easy. Don’t jump in there like you’re gutting a flounder. Nice and easy does it every time.
13. The Remote
From the minute you put the bags down and she puts on her gown and climbs into that bed, do something you hardly ever do, buddy. Hand over that remote control. Let her flip through the channels and watch what she chooses. Yeah, you’d rather eat glass than watch The Real Housewives of Green Bay, but tough it out. Laugh with her. Sit back and just enjoy it when she flies right past all thirty ESPN channels. Soon enough, you’ll both be watching Dora The Explorer marathons anyway
14. Blooming Onion Head
At some point during the wait you might wander down to the cafeteria. That’s fine. But eat it there. Do not, for the love of all that is dignified and true, show up back at her bedside, while she cannot eat any food but frozen water or unfrozen water, chowing down on a blooming onion or whatever. If you do, there will be hell to pay.
15. Pretty Little Angel Eyes
Keeping with the underlying theme of you being Mr. Suave during this excitable time, why not remind her that she is looking strangely radiant and hot. There is no reason she shouldn’t hear that from you at a time when she probably isn’t feeling nearly as pretty as she is feeling sweaty and puffy. Tell her she looks awesome, and mean it, dude.
16. Up to Eleven
Try not to get too loud during the last laps. Of course, you are going to be excited, but your voice, above all others, is probably the one that your Prangel (Pregnant Angel; my creation!) is going to be listening for the most. So do your best to keep it steady and sure.
17. Nothing But Flowers
During the course of the proceedings sometimes things happen that are both harmless and beyond anyone’s control. So listen closely as I tell you something important. Deny, then and forever, that she has “had an accident”. You saw nothing because there was nothing. Right? Right.
18. Be the Ball
The arrival of a bambino is a wild affair. There’s blood and screaming and people rushing around nudging you this way and that way. It’s easy to lose your wits sometimes, there is ample opportunity to get rattled. But try your best not to. Have a corner or a window picked out where you can walk to if you need to make a freaked-out face or whatever. That’s fine. But when you wander back over to her bedside be the guy with the tender words and the perfect hand for her to hold. She will never ever forget it if you can pull it off.
19. Do Not Tweet the Pageant
Don’t commit the irreversible sin of posting something wrong in the heat of battle. By all means,take all the pictures you want. But, tweet one out there for the world to see before the little lady approves it and you could end up as a monument to Regret.
20. Do Not Deny/Abuse the Ice Chips
Ice chips are a mainstay in the delivery room. They keep Baby Mama safely hydrated and offer up a nice little opportunity for you to get in there and offer her some refreshment with love. But watch out. My own field research shows that unsolicited ice chips, at the wrong time, can get you chewed out. Or bit.
21. Cut. The. Cord.
This one is simple, if you ask me. It doesn’t matter if you’re squeamish. It doesn’t matter if you faint at the sight of blood. It doesn’t matter whatever lame excuse you might come up with. If you don’t cut that brand new little girl or boy’s cord, she is never ever going to look at you the same again. And she’s right, too.
22. Get the Big Shot
In all the excitement, all the sweet chaos that follows the arrival of your wee one, don’t forget to take the most important picture you will ever take, man. That moment that baby is laid in your wife’s tired arms. Be ready! You’ll always be glad you were. And if by chance you missed it, just go straight back to the dog house when you get home because that’s where you live now.
23. Dummy Check
Not long after the baby is born they are going to come along and herd you and the family to another room. Your lady will be exhausted, probably even asleep, and so it is pretty important you do a good sweeping visual search of the delivery room. Cameras, wallets, cellphones, her novel. Round them all up and you’re good to go. Lose the camera: you’re a dead man.
24. Remember: Part 1
It’s been a helluva ride, and she’s done an incredible thing today. The best thing ever, really. So, remember to simply give her a little squeeze at the end of the day and tell her she was the badass of your dreams.
25. Remember: Part 2
And last but not least, fellows. Remember to look around you every hour or two while you’re in there, helping bring your little one into this world. Remember to soak as much of the day in as you can: from the ice chips to that kid in your arms: remember that it was all so worth it. And worth remembering.