The task of preparing for the arrival of a brand-new human being into the world is one that is fraught with many challenges, pitfalls and hi-jinx, especially the Big Day itself. It’s important to know that it’s not easy for a woman to give birth. This is why it is equally important for everyone around her to be on his best behavior and to absolutely avoid coming off as being insensitive with any of these remarks:
From husband / relative: “Wow, that needle/suppository/clamp looks humongous!” You’re hilarious. Seriously, you’re going to subject a very tense, emotional, exhausted woman (and multiply this by a factor of ten if this is Rugrat Number One) to this kind of cruel and unusual punishment? Needles are scary enough as they are, but remember that something big is coming out of her and she doesn’t need to know that there are other Big Scary Possibly Sharp Metal Objects that may or may not be inserted in certain unmentionable places of a delicate nature to facilitate the labor process.
From husband: “You sure look worn out, honey.” Women, no matter how confident or upbeat, love being reassured - especially by the men in their lives. It is why when a woman asks if she’s getting fat, a guy must always -- without hesitation or fear -- tell her she looks gorgeous. This is especially important when your ladylove is about to pop a bun from her oven. She’s undergoing labor pains, she certainly wouldn’t have had time to do her hair or put on makeup, and that dressing gown will certainly be as flattering as a camping tent. Of course, she will not be looking like Jennifer Lawrence on the red carpet. But will you tell her so? Hell, no!!!
From husband: “All this stress is making me tired.” You’re tired? Try hefting a five-to-ten-pound weight around your gut while wearing a thirty pound body suit for a few months while having extreme mood swings. Then this all culminates in a very painful process over a period of several hours. Any little inconvenience you’re having right now, whether it’s a slight headache or lack of sleep, are minor nuisances. Suck it in and man up.
From anyone: “Does it hurt?” Gee, if you think she’s cranky because she missed her favorite soap or forgot to do her nails, think again. She is in PAIN. There’s a reason why they offer anaesthesia in the operating room and it’s not just for the father. This is what she’s undergoing - think a slower, more socially acceptable version of a chestburster from Alien coming out of her. What do you think? Does that hurt?
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From the nurse: “Please fill out this form.” To all you hospital staff out there, please use a bit of common sense. If the lady in question has broken her water and is heaving and grunting like crazy, she may not be in any state of mind to remember her own name, let alone her Medicaid policy number. Writing is not easy when your hands are bunched up as fists needing to punch someone. Give the insurance forms to the companion, please – that’ll give him something to do.
From the eager companion: “Say ‘cheese’! Remember, we gotta shoot all of this for posterity!” As per number two, the thing to remember is how unglamorous childbirth is. Given that the would-be mom is probably covered in tons of sweat, she is not going to want to have her weary brow plastered all over Facebook and Instagram. Sure, there are exceptions - there are ecstatic moms who want nothing more than to be captured framed in flowers gently cuddling their bundle of joy, but be sensitive. If you notice that she wants to be left alone, don’t shove that iPad or phonecam in her face.
From anyone: “Oops…” The last thing you want to do in a hospital room is break or disconnect anything. There are lots of plugs, tubes, wires and tanks of flammable gases hooked up in an intricate network even more confusing than Metro Manila traffic rerouting during Christmas, so watch yourself and don’t touch anything, no matter how curious you are.
From the husband: “I know exactly how you feel!” In a previous article, we mention that some particularly empathic guys want for nothing more than to share the load, to bear the pain being endured by their significant other. In fact, in some cases, it manifests in some pretty real psychosomatic symptoms, including sympathy birth pains, migraines and mood swings. However, in most cases, we guys cannot lay claim to this experience. Don’t pretend that you know how she feels. The best you can do is just be there and tell her everything will be all right.
From the hospital intern, to the doctor (overheard): “What does this do?” Medical professionals are people you are culturally programmed to trust because they spent several years undergoing grueling training to have the privilege of wearing clean white lab coats, shiny stethoscopes and having the letters MD and Dr attached to their names. Said trust is somewhat put to the test hearing such a statement – and we know a few people who have actually heard this both in the Operating Room, Recovery Room and ICU. To all you doctors, nurses and therapists out there reading this, beware: your patient may still be able to hear you in spite of all that nitrous oxide. Find out what that gadget does out of earshot, and don’t just Google it.
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From the husband: “I can see his head!” Oh, that is just not nice. You can faint now.