For the Soon-to-be C-section Dad

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My friend’s life will change forever tomorrow. In the early morning, with dawn still approaching, she will get in the car for the last time as just herself. Within a few short hours, her doctor will perform a C-section, and she will become a mother.

My friend will do exactly what she is supposed to do, without any of us offering her any tips, suggestions, or, heaven forbid, the too oft told birth horror stories. Instinctually, she has everything she needs to become and be a mother.

Instead, I offer her husband this simple guide.

Dear Man in Missy’s Life,

Tomorrow will not be just the birthday of your daughter, but the most wonderful and terrifying day in your wife’s life. And it will be the day you prove to her that she was brilliant to marry you. Just remember these few simple acts to become the dad of all dads and the husband to beat all husbands.

Hold her hand. Through everything. She will be given an IV. It will hurt. After she is prepped, she and her bed will be rolled through the hospital, likely nervous and feeling on display, wondering if each turn in the hallway is the last before the operating room. During the procedure, she will turn control of her body over to a team of near strangers. She will feel pulling and tugging, as if her numbed organs are being removed from her body. She will wonder how long the sensation will last. Squeeze her hand even tighter.

Cry with her. You will be the only other person among the crowd of people in the room that will come close to understanding the emotional impact of hearing your child cry for the first time. At the moment of birth, your wife will probably not see her child, but she will hear her. Hopefully, her cry will be loud and strong, but it will definitely be the best sound your wife has ever heard. Let your tough guy persona melt away, look into your wife’s eyes, listen, and then cry like a baby. Your wife will find strength in your tears.

Go with the baby. At the end of the C-section, the nurses will take the baby to the nursery. Go with her. You are the person your wife trusts most, and she needs you to watch over the baby like a hawk armed with an iPhone or Android or even an old school camera. She will want pictures. The twenty minutes she is separated from her child will seem like an eternity, but knowing you are in the nursery being The Dad will ease her mind.

Get your wife everything she wants or needs, no matter how small. Ice water, lip-gloss, an extra blanket, a hairbrush, fire to light under the nurse’s ass so the painkillers get there quickly. Anything she wants.

Do not indicate in any way that the gross stuff is gross. You will see things you never wanted to see, things your wife doesn’t want you to see. Pretend seeing her splayed open on a table is normal. Act as if helping her, swollen, shaking and weak, into the first post-surgery shower is beautiful. This is a key moment. You can earn an entire, uninterrupted college football season on the couch in this one simple act. Yep, the shower and the sympathetic look on your face is that important. Save the “Good God, what just happened to my wife?” expression for the hallway, away from your wife.

Lastly, prepare yourself to love and be loved like never before. This love isn’t just that felt for and from your child. You will become infinitely more important to your wife after the birth of your child. Yes, you matter to her now, but if you are one of the lucky ones, you and your wife will become irrefutably fused together. That bond that led to your child will grow ten-fold. Your wife will become some sort of superhero in your mind, and you will become her lifeline, her connection to sanity through recovery and feedings, diaper changes and constant self-doubt.

The irony of tomorrow will be of all the scary times of your life, the life-altering choices you’ve made, the near misses, and holy-shit moments, none will be so earth-shattering as the moment you meet the tiniest, most peaceful and peace-giving being you will ever hold in your arms.

So, soon-to-be dad, I wish you strength and courage and love. And if you worry you do not have enough of one of the three, just look to your wife. She just grew a human being from food. And let it dance on her bladder for months.

You’ve got this, my friend. Welcome to the club.

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This post is dedicated to my husband, who on the day of my C-section, did everything right.


Catcalling From a Scooter

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“I’m cool, but I’m not catcalling-from-a-scooter cool.” That was Husband’s response to a recent experience of mine.

While walking back from Publix, I crossed through an intersection. A man on a moped scooter honked his tiny horn and yelled, “Don’tJodie Cain Smith work it all off.” He rode past me, turned to wave, ensured I knew who the odd comment came from, and then bobbled as he lost his balance for a second. Luckily, he recovered and rode away.

Did Mr. Moped really think that catcalling from a scooter was the best way to gain my affection? Did he think I would even care that some random man on a scooter (I cannot stress the scooter element enough) expressed his what? Appreciation? Concern? Awareness that I was there, and he was there?

So, as a service to the single (Lord, I hope that man is single) men of the world, here are a few words of advice when trying to attract the attention of a woman. Continue reading »


The Mom Club

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FullSizeRenderI have a baby, but do I feel like a mom? What is that supposed to feel like? When would I feel like a member of the mom club?

The c-section didn’t do it. Three minutes into the procedure, Baby was in the world, and I was a mom, but I wasn’t officially in the club. Within a few weeks, my incisions healed, and I will eventually forget the pain that came once the spinal block wore off. So, no, the c-section didn’t do it.

The 2 a.m. feedings didn’t do it. Four weeks into my membership (retroactive) in the club, I am in need of a miracle under eye cream, one that specializes in erasing dark circles. I thought this would be the motherly requirement that would break me because no one on the planet loves her sleep more than me, but the mom club isn’t about exhaustion.

Being covered in all forms of bodily fluids (and even one that should not be fluid) did not do it. I thought I would feel like a member once the spit up dripped down my neck into my hair or when his sprinkler-like business sprayed urine up and down my arm, or when after a particularly fragrant cuddle, I placed him in his car seat to discover a 5” X 5” green stain on my loveliest white blouse. Not crying or screaming when I discovered the stain will go down as my number one moment of patience in life thus far, but I still didn’t understand the club.

Our first trip to the grocery store just the two of us didn’t explain the heart of the club. Yes, I felt very smart parking right next to the cart corral so that I could put Baby and his carrier right into the cart for the game of Frogger that is required to cross the parking lot of said grocery store. (I would like to thank whoever spit out his or her gum in the parking lot. Getting it stuck to the bottom of my shoe made this adventure much more exciting. Seriously, who still spits out gum? Classy, real classy.) Baby and I made it all the way through my list without a meltdown from either of us, but no, still not a card-carrying member.

For years, I questioned whether or not I wanted access to the club. Did I want to give up my freedom in order to take care of a baby? Would raising a child mean changing who I am? Would I be suffocated by my new role of mommy?

Then came the urge to write. Baby was sleeping, but only wanted to sleep on me. If I tried to place him in his crib he let out cries that broke my heart and stung my ears. So, I sat in my big, plush rocker, placed Baby on my chest, balanced my laptop on my knees, and started typing. I realized in this simple act what motherhood actually is, and my initiation into the club began.

In that moment of quiet, with only the clicking of keys and Baby’s snoring to fill the space around me, I learned how wrong I was. Motherhood is not about limitations and sacrifices, sleep deprivation and various types of goo. It is a broadening of the heart. I have not lost me. I have gained. There is more compassion, more patience, more peace, and way more love.

I recently saw a production of In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney. In the play, the distraught lead character Oya, before handing a sleeping infant back to his father, told the child, “I give to you more love than the world got air.” The line haunted me during my last weeks of pregnancy. Now I understand that particular love.

Yes, Baby, that’s what you’ve given me, more love than the world has air, and I will give that back to you, now that I’m a member of the club.