My partner won’t be at our son’s birth: dealing with birthing almost alone

Guest post by zeurekat
By: Joe GoldbergCC BY 2.0

I didn’t plan to have children. Growing up, I used to think that it was selfish to reproduce, that the world had enough people on it already. I didn’t have younger siblings — my sister is more than a decade older than I am, so it always felt a bit like I had two sets of parents instead of one. I didn’t like younger children, or babies.

I was so certain I didn’t want children that I thought about having my tubes tied. My family has a history of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers and I have endometriosis, so I thought maybe I should just have the whole system taken out. No doctor would do it, and everyone kept telling me I would change my mind, that “someday” I would want children of my own. I always figured if that happened, maybe I would look into adoption.

And then, in the most cliché turn of events Hollywood could have ever predicted, I met a guy. We were twenty-two and we fell in love. We took our time getting married — almost four years. Another two years passed. Then in August, we found out my birth control pill had failed and that I was pregnant.

The funny thing was that I wanted this to happen. I had been thinking about having kids for a couple of years, trying to come to terms with this unpredictable yearning I felt. It was irritating in a way, the fact that all those people turned out to be right, but I knew that it really had to do with my husband, with wanting to have a baby with him.

So it’s pretty ironic that I’m having this kid almost on my own. Due to circumstances beyond both of our control — a move, a job change for me, and his desire to really try the job it took him over a year to find — it looks like I’m going to be having this baby alone. There’ll be doctors and nurses and maybe a doula, sure, but I always thought he would be there with me. And while it’s possible that he may make it for the birth, it’s entirely possible that he will miss it.

It’s taken me several months to come to terms with the fact that I will be alone — aside from the medical staff — when our son comes into the world. But I’m starting to see it as a positive. Even though I’m not the “birth warrior” type — labor terrifies me — I am starting to realize that I can do this, and if I can do this, I can raise this little boy to be kind and generous and love animals.

Even though I am a control freak and afraid that anything and everything will go awry, I know that it’s only one or two or three days of labor and I can get through it. The birth plan is for the baby to be outside my body and for both of us to be okay, and the chances of that going wrong are slim. And even if something does go wrong, it’s not like my husband could change that just by being there.

Even though I would love to have my husband with me for childbirth classes, I’ve been lucky enough to find friends who are happy to accompany me. The more I think about it, the more I realize how lucky I am that we are in this position, and that we can have this little boy and give him a safe and loving home.

And even though his dad probably won’t be able to be with me when our baby is born, I’ll get to meet him first. I’ll get to be the one to introduce everyone to our son. I’ll get to be the first one to know him. Maybe it’s selfish of me to want that, but now I do and I’m glad that I’ll get it.

Comments on My partner won’t be at our son’s birth: dealing with birthing almost alone

  1. My husband missed the birth of our son…he’s a marine stationed in Hawaii and we are in CA. People will be all like, omg, how sad/awful he wasn’t there, etc. but really, it was fine. You’ll be in labor mode anyway and completely focused on bringing baby boy into this world. I think maybe I was even a little more free to scream, yell, poop, whatever lol. And like you said, for that brief space of time, he will be all yours. Bliss! Congrats!

  2. Hey, just commenting with words of encouragement, letting you know you’re not alone. Your story is also mine. My husband is in the Navy and my daughter (unplanned after four years of marriage) met my husband when she was 7 months old. She is now a well adjusted kindergartner. The extra cuddle time was perfect for she and I, and made cosleeping a breeze.

  3. You and I are very similar in our journey to parenthood, except that while my husband was physically present during the home birth of our son, he found the whole thing too intense and emotionally tuned out. (He is dealing with the loss of his son from a prior marriage and not always very well) No rubbing my back or holding me in the birth tub like most homebirth stories, and when the midwives arrived he left the house all together, but you know what it was fine. I was free to howl and pace and get in and out of the shower. I was free to block out his unhelpful comment that birth was going to be painful, and when the midwives came the held my hands and encouraged me, and seemed to know what I needed better than my husband ever does. Find a good doula, a midwife or OB you really connect with, and maybe a good female friend, and it will all be OK.

  4. When I was born, my dad was stationed in the Middle East so didn’t get to see me for a while, and at that he only got two weeks at home before he had to go back. I don’t think he was stationed back in the US until I was 9 months old. Family and friends helped her out, and everything turned out just fine.

  5. I wish my husband had missed my son’s birth. Seeing me like that ended up having a negative effect on our sex life and our relationship as a whole. I think a lot of men, no matter how modern and open-minded they think they are or we think they should be, are not capable of handling seeing a woman’s body as anything other than a) the person they love and, b) an object of sexual desire. I’m not saying your husband is like that, but I think it’s important to really think through whether the guy should be there. With what happened to us in mind, I understand why traditionally birth has been women’s domain. Girlfriends, mothers, sisters, doulas and midwives gathered to help during labour and delivery and men sat in the parlour until it was all over. There is a certain wisdom in it. Celebrate the women in your life who are there to support you and take strength from them.

  6. You have a great attitude. I definitely recommend hiring a doula, because even with a normal labor, women tend to have a lot of questions. You’ll probably get a wonderful nurse, but unless the labor unit is very quiet, she won’t be able to be with you all the time, and it’s good to have someone who can answer questions, fill your water bottle, etc.

    Good luck!

  7. Best of luck with labor and delivery! I thought this might be a good place to ask for some feedback on an idea I have been tossing around for a little while. You have really helped me understand that some women can be just fine (well, better than fine, really) without anyone other than their doctor/midwife/doula/etc. However, I have thought a lot about those who may not have any/many people with them during labor and delivery, for whatever reason, who wish they did. I have been wondering if there is a desire for volunteers in that area. I have thought about becoming a doula, but I think of that as kind of separate from this idea. I just wonder if there are women who would want someone to be there to help in non-medical ways in the event a partner/family/friends/etc. can’t or won’t be there. Is that a totally weird idea? Anyone have any thoughts?

  8. My husband got a job abroad when I was 7mos pregnant so there was no way he could plan to come back. I ended up giving birth early, improbably witnessed by a visiting friend I hadn’t seen in almost a decade, my friend who drove us to the hospital because no local cab companies had any drivers available, and her teenage daughter who walked there at some point. Honestly, I was so completely inside my own head throughout the (very quick) labor that I didn’t really notice or care who was there. To this day I’m not sure how many wandering midwives (it was the UK) made an appearance. I was kind of aware of everyone chatting away in the corner (and I handed my phone to my friend to text the hubby), but for whatever reason I just stayed perfectly still and quiet the entire time, eyes closed and in some kind of weird internal zone. For me, it surprisingly ended up totally not mattering who was there and who wasn’t. Hopefully you’ll have your planned team of supporters around you, but just know that you can probably do it perfectly fine ‘alone’ too. 😉

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