I know the woman gets the majority of credit for the pregnancy process and I tend to agree. Let’s face it, the guy’s primary contribution to the creation of a new life is the thing that occupies a decent portion of his thoughts anyways. But going through this pregnancy without a husband has made me realize how much the man actually does to support the pregnancy process.
The best example I can think of to compare future fathers to is the pit crew for a NASCAR driver. Sure the driver does the driving, gets the trophy and the does the interviews, but the pit crew is what makes it possible for the driver to have a safe and successful race.
I did not adequately appreciate all of the things Jon did for me during my last pregnancy. He massaged and cracked all of the various parts of my body that ached, he helped me up and down or got things for me so I didn’t have to get up and down, made sure I drank enough water, and most importantly he held me when the pregnancy hormones made me extra emotional. (Also, Jon was basically the only person who was able to recognize when I was feeling emotional.) Jon made the physically and emotionally exhausting process of growing a baby a lot easier.
In several ways this pregnancy has been easy, at least physically. With Jocelyn my morning sickness was so bad I lost 15 pounds in the first 3 months. This time around I haven’t thrown up once and the fact that I was in denial for the first several months has made this pregnancy feel incredibly short. But going through pregnancy without Jon and adding a toddler to care for on top of the grief has made this process a struggle. A struggle, but one I have managed to push through one sleepless night at a time.
My son is due in the next couple weeks. If you’ve heard Jocelyn’s birth story you know I had a pretty easy time of it. I went through most of the labor at home and once I arrived to the hospital, check in to delivery took only 32 minutes. Even though I know with confidence that my body can do it again, I’m more afraid of this birth than I was with Jocelyn’s.
I’m afraid because I don’t have Jon. There are lots of jokes about men in the delivery room, but I don’t think the power of a man’s presence there is recognized nearly enough. Giving birth was the hardest thing my body has ever had to do. The strength required to accomplish something as daunting as pushing an infant through your body cannot be understood until one goes through the process themselves.
Jon missed my first push. Evidently he heard me roaring as he ran down the hall. (I didn’t scream or moan or cry, I was silent until I roared. lol) During that first push all I could think over and over was “Where is Jon? I need Jon!” And then I saw him. He ran to my side and took my hand. Something supernatural took place when he took my hand in his. It was like somehow he channeled his own strength into me. With him there supporting me I had the strength I needed to complete the task before me. And when I had finished and all my strength left me in an exhausted trembling mess, he was still there lending his strength to me. He never left my side. He never let go of my hand.
Women are strong. Stronger than society and doctors give us credit for. I was told many times that natural birth would be too hard for me, that I would not be able to bear the pain. I’m proud to have proven them wrong. (Not that there is anything wrong with other birth processes.) But as much as I am proud of what my body accomplished, I know some of that strength came from Jon’s presence. And I won’t have him there when I give birth to his son.
Pregnancy begins as a result of two becoming one, a growing baby is evidence of that oneness and birth is meant to be just as powerfully intimate as the act that began the process. This pregnancy, though unplanned, started with two. Now I am one. I am facing labor with half of the equation. I know I will be able to do it. I know I have friends and family to support me and I don’t mean to dismiss or discount their assistance. It’s just no matter who comes to help me, there’s a space there that cannot be filled. That space which was meant to bring me strength now only can give me emptiness.
Ps. I know many will want to respond to this blog post something like, “Jon will be with you.” I appreciate the sentiment and I’m not offended by it, but I don’t actually believe that is truth. I don’t believe the spirits of those who have died linger on earth. Jon is outside of time and has no access or awareness of me. I believe we will be reunited when it is my turn to leave this world, but he is no longer with me now. Even though this brings me sadness, I have a stronger ally that has been carrying me through these months and will be with me. As painful, physically and emotionally, the process of giving birth will be, I know that God’s presence will sustain me as He has all along.