Both of my parents were in the delivery room when I had my first daughter. I know, I know, that’s crazy right? My dad was in the delivery room, too? He was. It’s actually one of my favorite memories with him, if not my most cherished one.
I grew up in Michigan and moved to Boise, Idaho when I was 21. I met my husband there and we quickly had our first daughter. I was brand new to this whole mom thing and my family lived on the other side of the country.
When I was 37.5 weeks pregnant I developed preeclampsia. I had a raging headache for about a day and while in my college class one night, I asked my professor to take my blood pressure. It ended up reading really high and because of my headache as well, she urged me to go to labor and delivery ASAP. I headed to the hospital with my husband and was immediately admitted as they began a magnesium IV to help with the symptoms while I waited to deliver. The doctors told us that they would break my water and induce labor which is when I decided to call my parents in Michigan.
I explained the situation and they immediately bought plane tickets to fly out for the birth.
I was admitted on a Tuesday night and delivered my daughter Presley Thursday morning. After a really long and hard labor, the doctors gave the go ahead to finally push. My husband called my parents and told them it was time. They were up at the hospital within a few minutes and they both walked in to check on me, give me hugs, and tell me they loved me.
Things moved so quickly that my dad sort of got “cornered” onto the bench, not really able to sneak easily past the doctor, nurses, and baby equipment. We both have a very similar personality in that we don’t want to be troublesome to others and in this particular incident I understood why he didn’t want to inconvenience a bunch of medical professionals by asking them to scoot over for 2 seconds. So instead, he chose to hide in the corner and make himself as invisible as possible.
My mom and husband both stood next to me while my dad sat on the bench with his face turned, almost plastered into the wall next to him. I wish so badly someone had taken a picture of him in those moments. While I have that image burned into my memory, sometimes I wish I had a picture to hold to be able to study over and over. The way his arms were crossed against his chest as if to try and but a barrier between himself and what his little girl was about to go through. The way his eyes were wide open, instead of closed, almost as if he couldn’t physically close them because so much was happening all around him. The way his legs were bouncing up and down like they always did when he was nervous or stressed out.
But he didn’t leave. He could have multiple times. If he really wanted to leave he could have meandered the little maze between the medical personnel and equipment and bolted out the door, down the hallway. He could have snuck out, no questions asked, if he really was that uncomfortable. But he chose to stay. And I chose to let him. The power of those decisions would not be fully understood until three and a half years later.
I pushed for 45 minutes and at one point I told the doctor, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m so discouraged!”, to which my dad responded with, “It’s okay Molz, you got this!”. I looked up from the bed horrified that he was actually watching this whole thing happening. But he wasn’t. His face was still glued to the wall and he hadn’t moved an inch from when I started pushing.
My mom and husband kept up the cheering until Presley finally decided to make her way into the world. Not three seconds after she was placed on my chest, all three of them were surrounding me. We were all absolutely mesmerized by this sweet little baby that was now mine.
The whole experience was beautiful and it was nothing like I envisioned at all. I never expected my parents to even make it in time, let alone my dad to be in the room with me while it happened. But I’m so thankful for that experience. As gory as birth is and even with me being in my most vulnerable state, while also in the same room as my dad, it was a very remarkable moment to experience together.
Our next two births went a lot differently as it was just my husband in the room. My mom made it in time for the second birth but she wasn’t completely in the action that time. I chose to let the other two births be more intimate, mostly because I just wanted my husband.
My dad died when the baby girl he witnessed come into this world was just three and a half years old. This memory of him being in the delivery room is now so much more of a cherished one for me. I spoke about this experience at his funeral. It was the only part of my speech that tripped me up and made my voice shake. When I recounted the story for all of the people in attendance, I wanted them to know how powerful it was having him in the room.
Dads aren’t usually present for their daughter’s births. I think in a lot of dad’s eyes it’s really a “no man’s land” sort of place. It’s just one of those things that they don’t typically participate in. I understand why – no father wants to see their daughter in that much pain and watch them be in their most exposed state. I know why daughters wouldn’t want their fathers in there either. It’s a very intimidate experience that feels a little odd to include your father.
But in my experience, it was an opportunity to bond on an entirely new level. While I felt much more closer to my husband and my mom, I felt so much more connected to my dad after this. Not many dads can say that they were there for the exact moment their daughter held their first child for the very first time.
Both of my parents watched me become a mom. My dad watched me become a mom. He was in the room where his first granddaughter was born.
That gift is so priceless for me to have now. Even with him gone, nobody can take that away from us. What a treasured memory he gave to me by choosing to stay on that bench. What a treasured memory I gave to myself by not kicking him out.