I’ll be honest… I’m not the bravest of souls. And, people know who me closely can probably vouch, I experience a troubled reaction on viewing free-flowing blood in any shape or form. So, when my wife mentioned that she wanted me to be present in the delivery room for the birth of our first child, I was surprised that I said a resounding yes.
If my memory serves right, we probably had this discussion around the 6-week period, i.e. when we first discovered that we were expecting. I was ecstatic at that point, and would have probably agreed to buy her a diamond encrusted platinum ring (For the record, the aforementioned ring – ridiculously expensive).
As the weeks turned into months, I slowly started pondering over this alleged “promise”. Did I really have to go through with it? How was it going to be? Would it be as straightforward as it said it was in the pregnancy blogs? Many more such unsettling questions kept buzzing in my mind. To put and end to it, I decided to discuss it at length with a few first-time dads in my office. Strangely enough, I received a wide range of replies. Some responded with a straightforward “Yeah, it’s cool. No big deal”, whilst others described it as “the most distressing experience ever”. Finally, I decided to man up and do what all 21st century dads and dad-to-be would do – “Google it” (I also did “Bing IT”, “Yahoo IT” and “Ask IT”).
Isn’t technology a wonderful thing? No, I’m not going off-topic here – the phrase is merely a precursor to what I discovered on the “beautiful” world of virtual reality. After going through numerous disturbing illustrations and vivid stage-by-stage descriptions, I stumbled across a site which promised to alleviate all the “labour-room” worries of first-time parents-to-be, courtesy of a 7-minute video. Looking at some of the promising comments that accompanied the video, I decided to give it a go. Since, I cannot bring myself to reiterate the “goriness” of the video, I’ll just sum it up by saying that the video footage would have put a zombie movie to shame.
Armed with all the information I could possibly gather, and the scenes of agony fresh in my mind, I walked to the living room, all set to tell my wife that I couldn’t go through with it. I glanced at the sofa, where my wife had dozed off with her back propped up against a maternity pillow. As I watched her deep rhythmic breathing, I felt a wave of embarrassment wash over me. Here was a person, who in her pre-pregnancy stages, had always stood by me during tough times, and motivated me to get ahead in life. Here was someone, who at the peak of her career, took the conscious decision to “cook our bun in her oven“, knowing well all the promotions and social commitments that she would have to forgo. The least I could do was to stand by her for her toughest physical and emotional stress yet. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, I grew up.
Fast-forward to a few weeks later; we’re both in a room full of strangers – my wife’s legs supported up in a pair of stirrups, her fists clenching my arms, her nails piercing my flesh. An eerie chant-like phrase echoes the room – “Deep breaths… and…push, deep breath… and… push”; through clenched teeth, I too join the chat:“Push …deep breaths… push”.”Shut up!!” screams my wife. I quietly squeeze her shoulders in assurance and will her to keep going.
Three long hours and a gallon of bodily fluids later, there he was, complete with ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes, the heir to my throne. The midwife lightly pinched his bottom and he let out a wail prompting a round of applause around the room. As they wheeled away my wife to the operating room to stitch her up, the doctor on call beckoned me. I cautiously steered my way across the room to her. With a casual nod of the head, she handed me a bundle. I glanced at the wrapped up mass, not quite sure what to expect. Staring back up at me through two tiny partially closed eyelids was a pale pink face. As I looked at his fluttering eyelids, trying to adjust to the bright overhead lights, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with emotion. Eyes brimming with tears, I slowly took out my phone and dialed a number. When the call was eventually answered after a series of rings, I took a deep breath, wiped away my tears and said ” He’s here … and…… he’s beautiful!”
Sidharth Balachandran is a 30 something proud newbie dad who recently relocated back to India, after 7 years in London. He is a self-confessed techie, will-read-most-things-er, photograph-anything-er, love-to-travel-er and wannabe masterchef-er. He is the “carefree, relaxed and spontaneous” ying, to his wife’s “meticulous, practical and perfectionist” yangcharacter. Though academically an engineer and a product manager by profession, he strongly believes that eventually at some point his “creative” side will lead him to his true calling. He loves connecting with new people and you can catch him at www.facebook.com/sid.balachandran