Katie Terry, CLD
We recently had a zoom call with our clients and Katie’s husband, Jeremy. Oftentimes our clients ask us things about our spouses or our personal experiences. Although we do not bring our family decisions or personal life into our work, we do think it is beneficial for guys to learn from other guys! Katie and Jeremy have been married for 10 years and this time 9 years ago were awaiting the birth of their first son. Here’s what we discussed…
What kind of view did you have about birth before marriage and finding out you were going to have a baby? Family background, friend influences, etc.
Whatever I had saw in the movies was basically my only idea of what birth was like. The thought of my wife going through that never seemed like a natural occurrence because I only saw it in settings where it was played up or in an emergency setting. Our family didn’t really talk about it. But it wasn’t anything I was interested in. I was more interested in the sex part than the birth part.
KT- Understood. Did you have a sex education course in high school? Or were you taught like me… If you had sex you would get pregnant and die?
My high school wasn’t really that great. We had a coach who led a class but it was more of a hang out with him and laughed at pictures.
KT- Super beneficial.
What helped you prepare for the birth?
Our midwife helped us a lot. She was very patient with me and answered our questions. We hired a doula to come and help us during pregnancy to teach a class. She came to our house and got straight to the point. She gave a few variables and showed ways how I can help support my wife with comfort measures and generally the mindset I needed to have to help her.
KT- When I hear you say having communication with the care provider we had I now realize through doula work what a privilege that was. I would go in with a list of questions each appointment. Our midwife was flexible, even with our retail work schedules, to be able to go to appointments together that were lengthy. That is rare but we were very fortunate. I remember when the doula left the house after the childbirth class she did for us you said, “That was the best money we ever spent.”
What did you expect the birth to be like?
Even though we were prepared and our questions were answered I was pretty anxious. I remember when you were going into labor I still wasn’t sure what to expect. Still, everything I had seen up until that point from TV was in a hospital and an emergency. All I knew is that we were going to have a baby in a house somewhere (lol) which is fine but there wasn’t a frame of reference.
What was it actually like for you?
The first birth actually felt like what I expected. I eventually got comfortable and things started to pick up. Once I actually saw her have a contraction and see the tub set up, you know, those kinds of things helped me feel like okay this is happening and it’s good. The other two had those same familiarities.
What were some things you were not prepared for?
What was hard is when you got to transition it seemed like you were in transition for such a long time. I wasn’t prepared for that. I also held you in a squat for almost two hours while you pushed. Wasn’t ready for that either.
The placenta is weird.
KT- You just said placenta.
Yea I guess so. I know we talked about it in the birth class but I was caught up in the moment after the baby was born and forgot. It was like you just had a baby and then there’s more to come out. Also, I had always heard “after birth” not placenta so it was gross. It wasn’t pretty. The baby comes out sometimes with an odd shaped head and that’s weird too. It’s all just a bit weird.
What was your role during labor and what did that look like with a support team especially when supporting an unmedicated birth?
Trying to remember the things I learned in the birth class to comfort her. Being mindful that while she was in transition that I couldn’t ask her a bunch of questions. Just trying to be there for her. I learned that I didn’t need to talk about football with her and once I figured that out I got more comfortable just being there for her.
If you could go back to before our first birth what would you tell yourself?
I would remind myself about the placenta. Just kidding. Emotional preparation would have been helpful. I wasn’t prepared for the anxiety and how to handle when Katie was having issues after the birth and other things that came up during our births where she needed my emotional support.
What about postpartum? Was that what you expected?
It was hard knowing that the most I could do was getting the baby and changing the diaper and bringing him back to you. There were up days and down downs but we eventually got the hang of it. It was a long process to heal and transition as we learned about having a baby but we obviously forgot some of this because we had more kids.
How did that shape you for the next two births?
We got more help. We had additional support the second and third birth which was great so I could just completely focus on Katie. I tried to get physically prepared but it wasn’t needed. She had a water birth and I didn’t have to hold her up the second or third time. Much easier than the first time but that first experience definitely prepared us for the second and third.
Any thoughts on expecting fathers whether it’s their first or third baby on the way?
The anxiety is normal. There is nothing I can really say to prepare you otherwise. Get some kind of birth education. It’s similar to counseling, you know, it’s going to happen and you’re going to feel like you’re the only person who will ever go through this but you’re not. You’re not alone. There are people who have gone through this before and you will have support, if you want it, to make it through. Those two things mainly… knowing the anxiety is okay because you care about your baby and your wife. And just to get the education you can because you probably don’t know anything about birth.
KT- Yea I feel like once you got comfortable you knew what to do. You got me cold wash rags and just did it. It’s those kinds of things your wife wants you to do without having to tell you and think about. Your wife will say no if she doesn’t want it. It’s like labor chivalry.
KT- I hope this has been helpful! Do you dads feel better about things or does it make you more confused?
If you feel confused, I’ve already covered that is normal. Not my fault.
Thanks Jeremy for being willing to talk with us! Here’s some additional resources we shared with the group:
Becoming Us by Elly Taylor:
New Dad’s Playbook by Benjamin Watson:
The Hero Dad by Dr. Yale Noggin
The Hero Dad classes on YouTube:
Shifting the Philosophy of Care to Support Dad and the Non-Birthing Parent, by Karen Peterson, CPD