Thank you to the contributor of this guest post for sharing her story. She chose to have her name withheld.

Let me preface this by saying that I have a wonderful relationship with my husband. We are best friends. Our sex life is good. He is incredibly supportive. I feel very, very comfortable around him. He is my safe place.

However, I have harbored a latent kind of grief about the way my husband reacted to the birth of our first child. We chose a home birth. Besides being fast, it was a very normal, uneventful water birth. I was in laborland for the vast majority of it; I don’t believe I said more than three things the whole time. I didn’t really want to be touched. I moaned louder and louder until I pushed out our child while holding my husband’s hand. The rest of the time he was just part of the furniture, and that was fine by me.

But I expected him to be happier. To be more amazed. More grateful. To have something to say about it. Maybe I wanted him to tell me how it was a spiritual experience for him. How he learned about the power of women or birth or me. Maybe that’s ridiculous.

Michael Odent, an old guy I really respect, has spent his life trying to bring a home-like birthing atmosphere to hospital settings. He says it helps women birth naturally, safely, quickly. He also says men should never be in the delivery room—especially fathers. Frankly I think it’s too bold and that blanket statements like that are rarely accurate. There is plenty of recent evidence to the contrary. He is an old guy, after all. Some modern fathers are moved to tears at the births of their children and count it among the most wonderful and amazing things they’ve ever been part of. They are honored to have been there. I’ve seen it.

I teach childbirth education classes now. In one class I like to have a dad who was at his child’s drug-free birth come and talk to the class. When I started, I asked my husband if he thought he could do it. (One of many ways I have tried to extract feeling from him about the births of our children.) He said, after thinking about it, “I don’t really have anything to say about it.”

This I knew.

Well, he said one thing, once, about a year after the birth. My sister-in-law was talking about how gross birth is. I said, “It’s not gross, it’s awesome.” My husband was there and he said definitively, “No, it’s gross.”

I cried and cried and cried about that. Later that day, I told him.

“That was the hardest thing I have ever done. You watched me do it. And all you have ever said about the experience was that it was gross.”

He apologized. He felt bad. But still, five years later, that remains all he has said about the experience.

We are expecting again and planning another home birth. He is supportive, as usual.

But this time I am siding with Michael Odent. I don’t want him there.

Is that wrong?

Maybe that’s what he wants–an excuse to beg out.

Is that wrong?


Photo credit: J.K. Calif

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