I guess the alternative title is likely to cause any women reading this to assume that I am a male chauvinist pig. Maybe they have a point but I would argue that it is difficult for the man to truly experience child birth. We don't get any pain and our job isn't really that important.
My own experience of "the joys of child birth" where, for the most part, quite boring. I read somewhere, I think it was on a women's internet site related to child birth, a posting by a man who said that the majority of his childbirth experience was spent looking at a paper towel holder on the wall opposite. I thought maybe he was exaggerating and it couldn't possible be like that.
When I stood next to my wife in the room where she was about to give birth, holding her hand to provide what little comfort I could, the first thing I did was look at the opposite wall. Sure enough there was the paper towel dispenser. I did stare at it a fair bit so can actually say that the majority of my time was spent in a similar way. I did everything I could to help, holding her hand, offering her food and drink, holding a cold wet flannel on her forehead but no matter what I did I got the feeling that she really didn't care if I was there or not. She was obviously more intent on getting the baby out.
We men really can't appreciate the pain associated with child birth and until a man gives birth I think we never really will. Of course different women experience different levels of pain due to various aspects such as pelvis size and the size of the baby so even if one women says it wasn't so bad I am sure that they probably just had it easier than most. I've dislocated my shoulder 15 times and can honestly say that the pain associated with that is quite bad but it is the length of time that you experience the pain that makes it worse. Often it was about 2 hours before it was relocated in it's socket and the nagging throb of the pain often made me wish I was able to do what Mel Gibson did in Lethal Weapon. A short intense pain would be much more preferable to the long drawn out one. I often wind my wife up by saying that surely the pain I experienced must be similar to that of giving birth and so don't really know what all the fuss is about. Deep down though I can really appreciate that giving birth is a truly painful experience and one I wonder why women repeat.
The actual birth bit was great and although I hadn't planned to actually watch the birth I did and was deeply moved by the experience. At this point I was expecting my other half to turn in to some sort of swearing, spitting monster akin to the exorcist but was mildly shocked that the worst thing that she said was "sssshhh....ugar". Now I know this was probably an exception as I could hear a fair bit of shouting coming from some of the other rooms but unfortunately my views had been built up by preconceptions garnered from television so I felt a little disappointed that my wife didn't "perform".
My son had become distressed in the womb so when he was delivered there was no initial cry and he looked grey and was immediately whisked to a table where the paediatrician went to work clearing his airways. Now this was the bit that added the high drama, my heart sank and I was terrified that he wasn't going to make it. It seemed like a lifetime waiting and watching them work on him but when I heard that first wail I could have cried with joy. My emotions where all over the place so when they handed him to me and he looked into my eyes and grabbed my little finger with his tiny hand the tears did indeed tumble down my cheeks.
The birth was a fantastic experience, one that could have done without the high drama and would have been much better without the towel dispenser staring competition but nevertheless one that I wouldn't have missed for the world.