Ep 111: Michael’s Birth Story – A Dad’s Perspective

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In today’s episode we have a birth story from a dad’s perspective. Mike and his wife listened during their pregnancy (thank you!). He reached out because he felt they had an interesting story to share and I agree. He also wanted to contribute to having more dads share their perspective of birth which I appreciate as well.

We’re going to hear about their New Year’s Day baby which was not at all expected but the birth ended up going well. The story is at times funny, also very sweet, and it involves scotch! Mike comes across as a very supportive partner before, during, and after the birth.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • What Michael and his partner’s prenatal care was like
  • Which appointments he could attend and which he could not
  • What he and his wife did to prepare for the pregnancy
  • What resources were helpful for him to prepare
  • What Michael and his partner wanted for their birth
  • What postpartum has looked like
  • How important it is to address the needs of both partners
  • How vital it is to prioritize you and your partner’s relationship

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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I want this podcast to be more than a one sided conversation. Join me on Instagram where we can connect outside of the show! Through my posts, videos, and stories, you'll get even more helpful tips to ensure you have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. You can find me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. I'll see you there!

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Ep 111: Michael’s Birth Story - A Dad’s Perspective

Nicole: In this episode, we have a birth story episode from a dad.

Nicole: Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OB GYN, who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it. Well, hello.

Nicole: Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 111. Thank you for being here with me today. In today's episode, we have a great birth story from a dad's perspective. Mike and his wife, Megan, live in Northern Vermont with their newborn daughter. Mike teaches fourth and fifth grade music. You know, I always have a soft spot in my heart for teachers. I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before or really anyone in the education space. My mom taught math for 50 years and my younger sister, Camille is an assistant principal and my older sister, Patrice, who passed away. She was a principal. I have an aunt who was a principal, a cousin who is an assistant principal. So as you can see, I have a lot of education folks in my family. However, I digress. Let me get back to talking to you about our lovely podcast guest today, Mike, in his spare time enjoys hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, and reading.

Nicole: He also spends as much time as he can in the garden and enjoying making his own soap, candles and beer. Now, Mike reached out about being on the podcast because he and his wife listened during their pregnancy. Thank you. Thank you. And he felt that they had an interesting story to share, and I agree. He also wanted to contribute to having more dads share their perspective of birth, which I appreciate as well. So we are going to hear all about their new year's day baby, which was not at all expected to be a new year's day baby. She was born a bit early, everything ended up going well, but you will hear about how that unfolded in the episode. This story is at times funny, it actually involves some scotch and it's also very sweet. Mike comes across as a really great and supportive partner, and I know that you will enjoy this birth story episode from him.

Nicole: Now let me do a quick listener shout out before we get into the episode, it's from BSK stark and the title of the review says the best pregnancy podcast don't miss it. And the review says, thank you, Dr. Rankins for such an diverse, comprehensive, nonjudgmental, and easy to listen to podcast. I have been learning so much. Thank you for all the rich content and guests, as well as for sharing your knowledge with the world with such love and grace. I am writing to you from Colombia in Latin America, and I have been listening to your podcast every day. It makes me feel more empowered and confident, accepting and happy. There are no words to express my gratitude to all the other mamas. Don't miss this. It is a gift to humanity. Wow. Wow. Wow. Thank you so much for that kind review, my goodness, you know, how to make a girl feel great. I really, really appreciate you taking the time to leave that review and to listening all the way in Colombia. That is one of the greatest gifts for me that I receive from this podcast is that it allows me to serve people all over the world. Really not something that I really anticipated, but something that I'm incredibly grateful for. So thankful that you find the podcast happy and that you're tuning in from Colombia, being able to reach people outside of where I am in Virginia is also a great thing about the Birth Preparation Course. The Birth Preparation Course of course, is my signature online childbirth education class, that gets you calm, competent, and empowered to have a beautiful birth. Now, the course is focused specifically for people in the U S like I know, hospital birth in the U S so that is what I talk about in the course.

Nicole: I can't say that I know how to teach people about giving birth in other places. So I do want to be clear about that. I also particularly love to focus on first time moms as well. So you can check out all the details of the Birth Preparation Course at drnicolerankins.com/enroll. The course is also incredibly affordable. It's under $200, so do check out all the details. Oh, plus you get lifetime access as well. So check out the birth preparation course, drnicolerankins.com/enroll. I would love, love, love to have you there. All right. Let's get into the episode with Mike.

Nicole: Well, Michael, thank you so much for agreeing to come on to the podcast. I've had lots more folks ask me about dads coming on to share birth from their perspective. So I was excited when you reached out.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, um, my wife and I are huge fans of the podcast and we had a pretty crazy birth story. So I figured why not give it a go and see what happened?

Nicole: There you go. There you go. Well, why don't you tell us a bit about, um, yourself and your family?

Mike: Yep. So, um, I'm a teacher, uh, up in Vermont, I'm a music teacher and I've been up in Vermont for nine years. My wife is also a teacher. She's a kindergarten teacher and we just had a baby on January 1st, first baby. So she is just about eight weeks old, almost two months. And, uh, yeah, we have, we have this great little family up here, we garden, and I make a lot of things. I make like soap and I make beer and a bunch of other things for the house. So it's, uh, it's a good little, good little family.

Nicole: Nice, nice, nice, nice. And I have a special place in my heart for teachers. My mother taught math for 50 years and my sister is a principal and my other sister was a, is an assistant principal. So I always have a special place in my heart for teachers.

Mike: Yeah. Wow. That's 50 years. That's a, that's a career.

Nicole: Yeah, it was indeed. It was indeed. Alright. So my first question is what inspired you as a dad to reach out and want to share, share the story from your perspective?

Mike: I think it's, I'm probably just a bit more, um, outgoing than my wife is, but I also think that there's a huge gap right now, um, in like father's voices. And so I know that's something you've been working really hard on. Um, and I appreciate that. And it's, it's what really drew me to your podcast, but I just felt like having a, being able to have sort of the, a different partner, the non-birthing partner's voice out there might be useful and helpful for other non birthing partners.

Nicole: Absolutely. 100%. I agree. I agree. So let's talk about what was the prenatal care like for you? Did you see a physician, a midwife? How did you feel about the care you got?

Mike: So we went, uh, with an OB, um, and, uh, he he's, he was amazing. I mean, he really, really was amazing, you know, had over 30 years of experience, but was not sort of like, I hope I don't say anything offensive, but it wasn't like old stuffy doctor. Like he,

Nicole: Yeah, no. That's not offensive at all. I totally get it.

Mike: He was very interested in, um, talking about all different types of methodologies. And, uh, what was fortunate is that his practice, he, he had two partners, but their practice was associated with the hospital where we would be giving birth. So everything was streamlined. So we knew that whatever he was saying or whatever, you know, whatever he was saying, his partners also agreed with. And they all agreed with what was going on in the hospital. So there was never going to be a situation where we asked them a question and he answered it. And then it was different when we actually came time to give birth, which was really helpful. Um, and he also just was so open. I mean, there were times where we'd sit with him for like 25 minutes and he knew we never felt rushed. My wife always felt well cared for, we would, we would listen to various episodes of your podcast and then go back and ask him like 20 questions that we had gotten from listening to various episodes. And he would answer all of them and, um, had no issue with us sort of questioning things. He was very open about it. And, uh, yeah, I mean, our prenatal care was top-notch for sure.

Nicole: I, I love it. I love it. It's almost unheard of to have a visit with a physician that's like 25 minutes.

Mike: Yeah. And that was something, you know, obviously we, we have friends who have given birth and then listening to other birth stories. You know, we, we sort of always had this lingering fear in the back of our minds that when is this not going to go well, but really, I mean, we were, we were really truly very lucky. Um very lucky.

Nicole: Good, good, good. I love that. And I, now the interesting thing you said there is we at our appointments and at many places COVID has prevented the dad from going to prenatal appointments. Was that the case for you or not?

Mike: So up in Vermont, we, uh, have been very fortunate with not having like a ton of COVID cases, although when you only have 650,000 people in the state, um, you know, I think that has a little bit to do with that. Um, but I went to all of the appointments except for the final ultrasound appointment and then the, the appointments after that. Um, but I didn't know, I wasn't going to be allowed in that appointment. So I left work early, met my wife at the hospital. We got there and she called me and she said, yeah, they're not going to let you in. And, um, that was really, really hard, but, you know, I, I, it, it was really hard. It was, it was really hard. Um, but I was sort of prepared for it. Um, and I was able to like, keep my cool, but then she called me as she was going into the ultrasound and said, Hey, you know, I'll, I'll video you in because I've seen a lot of friends of mine have been doing that.

Mike: You know, they're in similar situations where they can't go in. Um, and then I didn't hear from her for like 10 or 15 minutes and just to be totally open, we had a chemical pregnancy, uh, about a year ago. Um, and I did experience, uh, what we considered to be a miscarriage. Um, and so there's always been this lingering fear throughout the pregnancy that maybe something might happen and I'm already a fairly anxious person. So I tried to keep my cool, but after 10 minutes, I was like, man, is there something wrong? Like what's going on? And then it turned out my wife had been crying the whole time, cause I couldn't be in with her. And then the, uh, the ultrasound tech, like wouldn't let her video and was using all it likes was saying that there was like, you know, privacy laws and this and that. And my wife was like, no, like I know people are doing this. Like, it's, COVID like my husband can't be here. He needs to, he needs to be here in some way. Um, and was finally able to video me in.

Nicole: Oh, that's unfortunate. I'm sorry that you had to go through that experience.

Mike: Yeah, it was, it was really jarring and it also just felt, you know, my wife and I, like I said, we're teachers, we've been quarantining. We've been wearing masks. We've been doing all the things that we're supposed to do and to kind of be put in a position where I missed out on something, even though we've been doing all the right things was really hard to grapple with 100%, but I was able to go to all the appointments prior to that. So, you know, silver linings, right. Like I have friends who didn't get to go to any appointments at all.

Nicole: Right, right, right. So I guess then was this ultrasound not at your regular doctor's office, was it at the hospital? And that was the difference?

Mike: Oh, it was, it was at the same, everything was done at the hospital where we gave birth and where the OB's appointment was. I think what happened was the last, let's see the last ultrasound was at the beginning of December and our cases in Vermont were starting to really go nuts. Yeah. And so I think, I think it was literally like the day or two before the governor had put out an order stating that all hospitals, like non-essential people coming in, like we're not allowed to come in and yeah.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. So let's talk about what did you and your wife do to prepare for the birth of your baby?

Mike: So, um, and I meant to bring the book. I can't remember, but we, so we read it, we read a couple books. We, as I mentioned, listened to your podcast and some others, um, I read, uh, the birth partner and I can't remember who the author is.

Nicole: Okay. That's okay. We'll find it and link it up in the show notes. You say you felt that was helpful.

Mike: Yeah. Especially because, and this is sort of just a commentary on our health system, but, you know, unless you are in the business of birthing babies, like you don't know anything. Right. Like there's, you know, you know, nothing which is crazy. Cause like birth is like the most natural thing you can do. Right. Like it's literally how we're all here.

Nicole: Yep. And it's been happening for a really long time.

Mike: That's right. And so for me, what was hard and so just, you know, I'm, I'm a type two on the Enneagram. I don't know if you're familiar with the Enneagram at all. Um, and so I'm very much like I get myself worth from caring for the people I love. And so not knowing anything, I felt like I had to know everything. Um, but also you can't control birth. Right. So like I had to like manage learning as much as I could with also managing, like, not being able to control what was going to happen, but the birth partner, which I think is a really popular book and I I'm sorry, I can't remember her name. Um, but it was very, very helpful in talking me through like what labor looked like and all of the different aspects of labor, um, and sort of like, what, what is my role? Like, what am I going to do as my partner is going through these things? Um, we also took a birthing class with, um, somebody who like, she has been a nurse, she's an internationally board certified lactation consultant. Like she, she just knows all of the things in regards to birth. So that was really, really helpful.

Nicole: Right. Right. And was that online or in person?

Mike: So that was in-person at a hospital, not where, not the hospital we gave birth, but another hospital close by. Yeah. And that was, that was, there were only three couples including us. So, not a lot of people.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And did you feel, you know, you mentioned, you said you haven't, you could be anxious at times. Did you feel anxious or overwhelmed or how did you feel like as you were going through the pregnancy and the experience?

Mike: Um, yeah, it's there aren't enough words to describe all the emotions you experience through like pregnancy, birth, and then Parenthood, right? Like they're not really describable. Um, I think I just really trusted in my wife. I trusted in her and I trusted that she knew what was going on in her body, but I also felt very strongly that I was going to be as prepared as I could be. So that way, when she didn't know what was going on or when she wasn't certain that I was there to be helpful. And I think there were many times where she kind of looked at me and said, I, this thing is happening. And I don't know, like, what do you think? And I was able to rattle off several things I had read or listened to so we could sort of figure it out together. I don't know.

Mike: The pregnancy went really well. Like everything went when, as, I think as easy as it could have gone. And so I think that as we sort of rolled into and it was like each day seemed to be the same and it was like, okay, like we're not really experiencing any issues. Um, I became less and less anxious and I just sort of let, I sort of let it go. I was like, it's going to go, how it's going to go. We can only be as prepared as we can be. And then it's going to go as it's going to go.

Nicole: Very much so true. Yeah. And as you well know, the traditional medical system really, really almost ignores partners and getting ready for birth.

Mike: Yeah, for sure. You know, like I feel like my wife, we were fortunate with the prenatal care, but I do feel like my wife was, was forced into finding her own information and doing our own research, which as you've mentioned, Dr. Google, isn't always the most reliable, but then at least she like did have her OB. And of course I was in the appointments and I was able to ask questions too, but yeah, I was really left to my own devices to really go find the answers. Um, and there just isn't as much out there for what you can do as a partner, as there is for what you can do as a mother or the birthing partner. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. So what are some things that you all wanted for your birth experience?

Mike: Yeah, so, um, once again, not to offend anybody, but, uh, this is like going to, this is like my, uh, my male privilege, like I wanted. Okay. So disclaimer, obviously it's not my body, right. Not my choice. Like how she's, what she wants is what we're going to go with. I think we both wanted unmedicated, uh, vaginal birth. I think my wife is very flexible and she's very like, you know, it's going to go, how it's going to go and I'm going to be staying. I'm gonna stay open-minded I think just reading about all the different medicines and reading about how things are administered. I really wanted to be as unmedicated as possible. I've also never squeezed a human outside of me. So, um, I don't get, I don't want to get a say in the matter and I understand that and never put pressure on my wife or anything I'm, you know, I wasn't that kind of partner, but that's what we were hoping for. We were hoping for vaginal unmedicated, that's not what we got. Um, but I can save that for later. Um, but that's what we were hoping for.

Nicole: Gotcha. And what about things like I presume, you know, skin to skin, um, delayed cord clamping, things like that. Yeah.

Mike: Yeah. We, we wanted all of those things. Um, we, you know, we wanted the skin to skin, we wanted the delayed cord clamping. We didn't know what the sex of our baby is going to be. If it was a boy, we were not going to circumcise which I'm Jewish. So that was a big deal. Yeah. It was, it was a hurdle for me to jump through, but my wife presented me with just so much information where, and every argument I came down to is just like, she was like, but what about this? And what, and, and once again, no pressure, she wasn't, it wasn't like you are wrong here's information to show you you're wrong. It's just, but what about this? Right, right. Which is how our relationship is, you know, we're, we're both very, just like, well, what about this? Gotcha. And so, but we were not going to circumcise and, you know, we, we had our birth, our birth class had talked about like the K shot and the eye gunk that they put in the eyes and that stuff. Um, and I think, you know, we were sort of undecided on that, but our baby came five weeks early. So in the throes of everything, they did the K shot and the eye gunk, which we were, I mean, we didn't have any issue with it.

Nicole: Yeah. Okay. Okay. And then did you consider having a doula at all?

Mike: No. I think especially with COVID, we were just, you know, we knew that I was going to be the only one in the room and to be honest, going through the whole pregnancy and learning everything, a part of me was like, man, I could, I think I could be a doula. Like this could be really interesting. Um, like actually pursuing it as a career. Um, but yeah, I know we never really considered that. I don't know if it was because of COVID or just, we, we were happy with the way things were here.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah. Well, that's cool that you've thought about it. Like this could be an idea. I see more and more men who are getting like interested in the possibility.

Mike: Yeah. I think there's a place for it. Although of course, like I am concerned that, you know, I don't know if it's sort of like, like as a man saying like, okay, I'm going to occupy this space that maybe not that I'm not meant to occupy, but that there are professionals who are doing a very good job of occupying that space. So it's hard to manage some of those feelings as well.

Nicole: Yeah. I can, I can totally understand that. I mean, birth has, I mean, we've, we've sort of progressed in like what's female what's male and all of those things like that, but birth is traditionally for lack of a better way to put it, um, a women's woman's space, so to speak, so, yeah. Yeah. So let's talk about what was the labor and birth like it was, as you said, it was not at all, like what you anticipated.

Mike: Yeah. So I, it, can I start from the beginning? Cause it's a great story. Okay. So, um, so we were, we were due, uh, my wife was due February 4th. On New Year's Eve, uh, we watched the movie Soul, which if anybody, if you haven't watched it, it's an amazing movie. And my wife would tell me later that she was starting to feel contractions, but wasn't really aware of it. Um, but then around 11:30, a few friends of mine contacted me and they wanted to like get on a Google Meet to, uh, to just, you know, ring in the new year. And so we were on the Google Meet. My wife was on for a while for new years and you know, my friends had a couple of drinks. So I poured myself a little bit of scotch because I figured we were going to be awake for a little while and then we were gonna go to sleep. So, you know, one drink during the new year and then we're done. Right. Um, so two hours later, it's two in the morning and we are not done and I've had more than one scotch and my wife wakes up and she's like, Hey, can you, can you come here for a minute? And uh, you know, at this point I'm like, yeah, whatever, I'm having a great time. You know, life is great. And she says, I think my water broke. And my first response is, no, it didn't.

Mike: No, no, no, no, no. Yeah. We got like five weeks. So that's, that's not happening yet. And she said, no, like, like my water broke. And I said, well, well maybe you just peed yourself now, once again, not a good look for me. Right. Like, it's just, it's like my partner telling me like, Hey, this thing's happening. And I'm like, no, no, no, no, you just peed yourself. Right. And she's like, no, that happens after you give birth. Like that's not right now. Like, I, I definitely didn't pee myself. And so I, you know, I, I felt what she had been wearing and it was, it was very wet. So I immediately panicked. Um, and I'm like, all right, well, we should probably call the birthing center. Um, and I normally do like, even any kind of phone call, like when we're ordering food, anything, my wife doesn't like talking on the phone.

Mike: So I'm usually the one that does it. And I'm like, sorry, are you gonna call or should I call? And she looked at me funny and she's like, I guess I can call. And I later on, you know, I told her, I was like, yeah, like I was, I was kind of drunk. Like I'm, I'm not trying to talk to the nurses about what's going on with you. Like, I've had a couple of drinks, like, so at that point it wasn't, it wasn't a trickle, but it wasn't a gush. It was just like, sort of like a good, solid leaking of water. Um, she was, she got back into bed, she was talking to the nurses and they asked, you know, what was the flow like? She told them it wasn't, it wasn't too much. And she said, the nurse said, okay, well, let me go talk to the doctor.

Mike: And see, at that point, my wife got back up and then getting back up, it was more of a gush. Right. Um, and so the nurse got on and said, you know, if, if it's just a small leak, like you can, you can wait it out. And my wife was like update. There's a lot of water. Um, and the nurse said, yeah, you should come in then. Um, so my wife proceeded to stay on the toilet. So to let all the water go while I ran around for 15 minutes doing nothing, because I couldn't get myself together to figure out what needed to happen to go. And then finally, my wife was like, Hey, you know, like I'm having contractions. Like we ha we have to go. So like, you need to get it together. Um, now just a side story. I am usually like very well put together.

Mike: Like I, I, I plan, I'm a planner. I have everything ready to go before it's time. My wife is the exact opposite, but we both switched roles in this. So she had her bag ready to roll. I had no clothes ready. So I had to get, I had to get the birth, the, the, the hospital bag together while my wife just cooler than the underside of the pillow was just talking me through it. Like, all right, this is what we're doing now. Like, this is what you're going to get. This is what you need. Um, and then we realized that we hadn't set up the, uh, the car seat yet, which was still in the box with the stroller. So the whole box came with us to the hospital. Um, cause there was no chance of me trying to figure that out. And that is not a small box either. Took up the entire, I have a, I have a Subaru Forester so I could fit it. But it was, yeah, it was, it was crazy. It was really silly. And then finally, I think, I think we finally like got out of the door at three. So from, from like two 15, when my wife woke me up 45 minutes later, we were out the door. Now this is the part of the story at the time I felt really guilty about, but I'm happy that it turned out this way. So as I mentioned, I had had a number of drinks. So my wife drove herself to the hospital because this would be a very bad story of if the drunk father then drove.

Nicole: I think so. Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Mike: But at the time I felt so guilty. I was like, I'm never going to live this down. Like what an awful moment.

Nicole: Right. Right, right. So we're driving the hospital apart, I guess. How far is it to the hospital?

Mike: Yeah, so the hospital we chose was like 25 minutes away. Okay. Okay. So not too far, but far enough, you know, it's that rural, rural lifestyle, right. Like that closest hospitals are like 30 minutes away. Right, right, right. So yeah. So, so we're driving and we're about, I'd say 15, 20 minutes into the drive. We're almost there. And I turned to my wife and I go, so are you, are you like having contractions? Like what's going on? She's like, yeah. I've had like six contractions since we started driving and she like, no, there've been no change to her demeanor. She just like powered through. And she did say like, they were just kinda like early period cramp, contractions. Gotcha. Um, but I had no idea. Like, I, she hadn't changed her demeanor or changed anything she was doing. Um, so I had no idea. So she drove through like six or seven contractions.

Mike: Um, and we were trying to get in contact with family and couldn't really reach anybody. Um, but we got to the hospital at like three 30, um, gotten to the room and then, uh, the doctor came in and told us, you know, he did a quick, quick ultrasound and we knew our child was in breach. And that had been, you know, it had been like the last two ultrasounds she'd been in breached. And the last visit she had been to the doctor had told her that she was in breach. Um, and so with the loss of amniotic fluid, it was determined that we were going to have a C-section. And so the doctor that saw us, wasn't the doctor we had for prenatal care. He was a different doctor in the practice, which was fine. We had never met him, but it was fine. What I will say is he didn't have to necessarily explain to us.

Mike: I mean, and this was unprompted. He went through all of the reasons why a C-section was very important at that moment. And I didn't, I felt really good about that. Like I felt like he was being really respectful and responsive to the fact that we might not have wanted that. Um, but without us even asking, he, you know, he said, you know, there isn't really enough fluid for us to try and turn the baby. Um, and at this point, the baby is fine. Heart rate was fine, everything was fine. He said, if we wait, it might not be fine. You know, there's with the lack of fluid, now there's more of chances that something could go wrong. And he said, if we can do a C-section now and have a healthy baby, then that's better than something worse happening later on. And it, it was really nice for him to do that without us prompting him. Like we didn't ask, he just went into it. Um, so that's what we did. I mean, at, at about, at, about, I don't, I don't know we were, we got to the hospital at three 30 and around four 45, she was down in the, OR, um, and at five 45 in the morning we had a baby

Mike: It's like three hours,

Nicole: I guess by that point, maybe the scotch had wared it off a little bit. And you were a bit more aware of what was going on

Mike: For sure. I mean, it was thinking back on it now it's just like so surreal.

Nicole: Yeah. It's so crazy. It's so crazy. Yes. Yes. Now, were you in, I presume you were in the operating room with her, for the cesarean.

Mike: Yep. Um, I was, and that is also no one prepares you for what that looks like. I mean, it's, you know, first of all, she was awake, smiling, happy. You know, she, but like, from, from, I don't know, from like her mid torso down could feel nothing. And there's a screen that basically is like, from her chest down, you can't see anything. And I am, you know, I'm in like my like full, you know, our getup,

Nicole: We call it the bunny. There you go.

Mike: Yep. And I, I honestly, the entire time was just like, this isn't real. Like there's what a, what are we doing here? Like, there's no way this is happening. I will say for anybody going through C-section for any partner going through it, don't look don't, don't do that. That's just do yourself a favor. I looked once and it was,

Nicole: I said, did you look? And it was like, what is going on? I don't know what's happening. Part of my wife's body is outside. What's going on?

Mike: No, I did look just because I don't know. There's I guess there's that like part of the human condition where you just like, want to know what's happening? Of course I looked once and I was like, that was, I can't, I can't un-see that. So there's that now,

Nicole: At what point was it when you looked, do you remember? I just, was it before or after the baby was born

Mike: It was before the baby was born. I just remember there was there's there's a lot of blood.

Nicole: There is. There can be, yeah, there is. There is sure.

Mike: My wife was happy the whole time. I mean, I asked her like, are you feeling anything? She's like, yeah. I mean, there's pressure. But other than that, like she wasn't in any pain. She was really dealing with the fact that like, like I'm giving birth, but I'm not doing any of the work to give birth. Right. Which is something she had to contend with a little bit later on as well. Gotcha. But yeah, but then we had a screaming baby and she was healthy and happy and, uh, it was amazing. I think her, is it the APGAR score right after was like an eight or something like that. Yeah. Um, and then it was, I think, like a nine, a couple of minutes later, so yeah. She was super healthy.

Nicole: Love it, love it. And did they bring her to you guys fairly quickly or? Yes.

Mike: So I went over, they had a heating lamp ready. Uh, and the pediatrician was there doing all of the, the preliminary testing. I was able to go over there while that was happening. And then they swaddled the baby and we brought the baby and we did cheek to cheek with the mom. And we did that while uh, you know, she was finishing up the, the surgery. And so, yeah. So we were able to hold the baby for the last, I don't know, it's like 20 minutes or so 25 minutes, um, doing cheek to cheek and, um, just really in shock at the fact that we were holding a baby

Nicole: And she was a new year's baby. Was she the first baby at the hospital?

Mike: She was the first baby at the hospital. Yeah, she was.

Nicole: All right. All right. So then what, what has the postpartum period been like? You can maybe like, what was it like in the hospital and then what was it like, you know, since you've been home.

Mike: So we had amazing care at our hospital. I cannot speak, you know, it's just, you know, the maternity nurses are just, they're such champions. It's unbelievable how I, I've never met a group of people who are so willing to deal with so many different things all at the same time and, and always with a smile. So, yeah, they were phenomenal and we were, we were really happy with our care and anything we needed, they did for us. And the, you know, the rooms were really nice and I, there was, they were spacious and I had enough space for me and we had enough space for everybody. Um, we did struggle with, you know, as nurses change, um, different shifts, you know, different people come in with different perspectives on things. Right. And of course, you know, like I said before, where we don't know anything about this, we don't know what we're doing.

Mike: Um, so getting just different perspectives was hard sometimes. My wife did want me to mention within an hour of us having the baby and my wife trying to breastfeed, we were, uh, the nipple shield was pushed on us pretty, pretty hard. Um, which my wife like, kind of said no to. And then the next day it was pushed on her again. Um, and that was sort of hard cause she was like, but we haven't been doing this this long. Like this is a new baby who is considered a premie. Right. She was born at 35 weeks. She's got, she's a tiny, I mean, she was like five pounds, 12 ounces. She was just a tiny little baby. And my wife was like, we just need some time. And so she did end up using the nipple shield like once or twice, but then there were other nurses that said, look, you know, like, obviously this is new, give it time.

Mike: Um, which is good because like I said, our, our birth class was done by an international board certified lactation consultant. So we really felt like we knew without having done it. Like we knew what to expect with breastfeeding. Um, and the nipple shield seems to do like the opposite of what you're supposed to do with breastfeeding, because it feels like you're trying to get the baby to latch to a nipple, which is not, not really the way it's supposed to happen. And so I think my wife, you know, we wanted to feed the baby. We wanted her to gain weight, but we also didn't want to start bad habits. So it was hard to be pushed into the nipple shield with our feelings of like, we feel like this is not the right way to go about things. But other than that, the care at the hospital was, was amazing. Um, as far as other postpartum care, we do feel like, and maybe it's because of COVID we did feel like once the baby was out, it was sorta like, okay, like, you're on your own.

Nicole: Oh yeah, that's not [inaudible] unfortunately, that's what our system is kind of set up to do, unfortunately. Um, especially for moms, it's just like, you know, we see you in six weeks kind of thing. Yeah.

Mike: Yeah. And you know, the other thing too, and I don't, I I've gotten permission from her to talk about this. I hope it's not too much for your listeners or anything, but obviously you're, so there's a lot of bleeding for awhile and you know, they kind of, you know, they tell you like, okay, and, and then at six weeks it stops and then you're good. Um, which is like, is not really accurate. I mean, it's different for everybody, right? Like everybody experiences something different. And it doesn't mean that if you're bleeding past six weeks its abnormal. And so my wife had times where she would kind of stop bleeding and she'd be like, okay, I'm done. And then she would start again and she would call the hospital just to find out. And it would be hard to get answers or hard to get ahold of anybody.

Mike: And that was really hard for her because, and you've mentioned this before on your podcasts, like we normalize things so much, like yes, bleeding is normal, but also you should feel comfortable calling somebody to ask them about that, even if it is normal. Right. And so not having, um, access to people as readily as we did during prenatal care was hard. Sure. And then, um, for the six week appointment, there was a huge confusion over whether it was phone call or in person and her appointment came and went and she didn't get a call from the OB. And she was kind of freaking out a little bit because she had experienced a thing where she had stopped bleeding and then started again a couple times. And finally the OB called later in the day and he apologized and said, yeah, no, it was supposed to be in person, but it's totally my fault. Um, there must've been some confusion with the front office. And then he did say whether you have an appointment or not like come to the hospital, like come and see me. I will see you. These are the days I work. You don't need an appointment to come see me. Gotcha. And that, that I think was, was pretty good. That was, that was how it helped her,

Nicole: For sure. For sure. For sure. So did she have any difficulties with breastfeeding after that or did things kind of get going?

Mike: Yeah, I think, um, I mean, now it's now everything is fine. And it has been for, for most of the time, I think it was just, you know, breastfeeding is natural in that it's sort of the way our bodies, well, women's bodies are meant to act, but if you've never done something before it's not natural.

Nicole: Right. I mean, it doesn't mean it's easy.

Mike: Right. Exactly. And so I think, um, you know, my wife is an exceptionally patient person. Like I said, she's a kindergarten teacher, so go figure. And I think that just as, as they did it more often as they bonded as the baby got used to my wife and as my wife got used to the baby, um, it all just kind of came to, and by the time we were home, she, I mean the, our lactation consultant came. Um, and, and that had no tips or tricks to give my wife. She was, she was like, yep. You're, I've got nothing to say, everything is going well, you know, keep doing what you're doing. So that's been good.

Nicole: Gotcha. Well, that's great. That is great. And what about anything like adjusting or postpartum depression or anything like that?

Mike: Yeah. So this is something that I really want to talk about because, um, so my wife has been, has been pretty good for the most part. She's definitely, um, uh, more emotional and that's her words, not my words, those, you know, she's, she's feeling more emotional, more apt to cry. Um, she's also feeling it later. So like the first I'd say like four or five weeks, she, I asked her, you know, I was, I was very attuned to Hey, or, you know, how are you feeling what's going on? Do you need anything? And she was like, no, everything's great. The last few weeks have been a little bit more overwhelming. Um, we also just went through the six week growth spurt and our baby is going through, I don't know if you've heard of this, have you heard of the purple crying? So this is a thing, and this is Dr. Google. Right. So who knows,

Nicole: Yeah, tell us about it.

Mike: I guess it's just really common that babies cry for like one or two hours a day for no reason at all. Um, and they're inconsolable and they do it for, they could do it for a few months. It could be all at one time. It could be spread out throughout the day, but we're in a period where our baby and it's not all the time. It's very infrequently, but sometimes she just cries for no reason. And she's like, it's as if something's hurting her and it's hard and it's overwhelming, of course, then she quiets down and goes to sleep.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. So maybe colicky sorta or just, um, I mean, that's what I would typically with what would refer to it as, but that can be very, very distressing because nothing you try doesn't want to eat. Um, can't, you know, diaper change, whatever you do. And that's really hard to hear your baby cry like that.

Mike: Yeah. And especially because I would say we had a pretty easy baby for the first five weeks and she's, she has like, she sleeps through the night. I mean, she wakes up to feed, but then she goes right back down. Oh, in eight weeks she will, she'll wake up, you know, she'll wake up like every three hours to eat, but then she goes right back down. Yeah. So like, we have it really easy in a lot of ways, but those kinds of things are things where we're like, what's wrong. Like, is she hurt? And then you do some research. You're like, no, like a lot of babies will just do this. Like they just, they cry inconsolably and then they're fine. Right. But we didn't know that. So I think that has been a little bit harder on her. Um, I think I've had a much harder time adjusting.

Mike: Yeah. So this is sort of a, a, another space. That's hard because I am the non I didn't, I'm not the one that gave birth. So my mind is trying to wrap around how do I care for my partner who did, and my baby, who didn't have to do anything up until seven weeks ago and now needs to do everything on her own and is trying to figure it out. And oftentimes I think the N the non birthing partner like puts their mental health aside. And I think that, you know, I find it my responsibility to care for them. And because I'm not the one that went through the birth, I, my needs are not necessarily as necessary as, as theirs are, and that's not coming from anybody but myself. But I would imagine that this is a shared feeling amongst the non birthing partner, um, where you feel like, well, I'm not the one that did anything, right.

Mike: So I have to be there for them. And, and so I'm back at work. I had three weeks off. Um, I'm taking the rest of my leave at the end of the school year with COVID with being back at work with trying to manage my own self care plus caring for this person who just went through, like one of the most intense abdominal surgeries you can go through. And this like baby who is amazing and wonderful, but also really challenging at times, I don't feel like I've taken the best care of myself, and I'm now coming now, it's now coming to roost, right? So like seven weeks of not really managing all of that is now creating other issues. And, you know, obviously my mental health is equally as important as hers, but that's easier to say and harder to manage.

Nicole: I think what you're saying is so much more common than we realize, and I appreciate your bravery and honesty in saying this. It is, it can be really challenging for partners.

Mike: Yeah. And it's just, you never know. I don't know. It's, it's, everything is new and it's something you've never experienced before. So it's hard to know, like, what is normal and also what does normal even mean? Like, you know, and so, I mean, my, my partner and I have, you know, we are very communicative and so we're very good at talking. Um, I will say that having a kid kind of, it does make it harder to communicate. Like, I feel like we're often two ships passing the night, you know, like, we're, we're just trying to manage this.

Nicole: Yes. Especially in the beginning.

Mike: Yeah. Um, but I think now we're sort of getting into a role where we are able to communicate more and I'm able to express myself more and she's able to express herself more. And so I do think that things will get easier. Um, but yeah, there are definitely moments where I'm just sort of like, I don't know if I can do this. Like, I don't it, you know, and I know I can, you know, when those moments pass, it's fine, but yeah, it's, it's really challenging to manage everybody's care

Nicole: For sure. Have you thought about reaching out to get help either from like a dad community or from a professional therapist or anything like that?

Mike: I have, I have a lot of friends who are dads, so I'm able to talk to them and I've got friends who have experienced similar things to me. So being able to communicate with them is really, really helpful. Um, we also have my mother-in-law does come and help with the baby when I'm not at work. And we have, you know, we have like a pretty strong family community around us. So I never feel like I'm not supported. It's more about just, I think remembering it's like a mantra, right? Like my mental health is as important as my partner's mental health

Nicole: Hundred percent. Yes, absolutely. So it's a constant sort of re reminder and like, it's okay. Like I have to take care of myself in order to really be present for everybody else, even. Yeah,

Mike: Yeah. It's yeah, exactly. And, you know, cause I, I do, I look back on the seven weeks and I'm like, man, those weeks flew by and I don't want to miss time with my kid. I mean, she's doing so many things all of the time and my brain is elsewhere because I'm not doing what I need to do to be present in those moments. Gotcha. And I can't, I can't, I mean, she's never going to be this age again. Right. Like I can't miss that time.

Nicole: Yeah. Well, I hope you do give yourself some grace and it sounds like you are reaching out and getting that, that help that you need. Not that you asked my opinion, but I do hope that your, your, um, it sounds like you're being intentional about addressing the issue and not ignoring it, which is important.

Mike: Yeah. I mean I'm, and I'm wondering, I'm fortunate to have a partner who, you know, she, she does make sure that I'm doing that and she is making sure that I'm, I'm taking care of myself as much as I'm taking care of her.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Well, that's great. That is great. So overall, how have you felt about things, the pregnancy, the birth postpartum? How have you felt?

Mike: Yeah. It's, it's amazing. I mean, the whole thing is so wild and, uh, it's, it's just really, it's one of those things where people say, who are parents again, it's you can't describe it until you go through it. And I I'm in that camp. You can't describe it until you go through it. There's nothing like it. And it's, it's crazy how this small little thing comes out that you've never met before. And you just, whether it's whether it's right away or a couple days later, that the love you feel for that baby is unlike anything I've ever experienced before. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. There's and you hate to be the person who's like, seriously, you don't understand until you go through it, but seriously, you don't understand it till you go through it.

Mike: It's an indescribable experience.

Nicole: Yeah, for sure. And I was like, I'm an obstetrician and had, had delivered many, many babies before I had my own. And it's still just something about it when you, when you go through the experience yourself. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And the next thing you know, that little baby will be like 10 or 12 or high schools. Like it does go by fast.

Mike: I'll tell you. Yeah. We were watching a show the other day and the show the mom had gotten into bed to like cuddle with their like nine year old daughter. And I started sobbing uncontrollably and my wife was like, what, why are you crying? And I was like, I was like, she's going to be that age one day.

Nicole: And it really does come sooner than, you know it. So I love how you're being intentional about appreciating all of those moments while you have them. Yeah. So just as we wrap up, what is the one piece of advice, your favorite piece of advice that you would share to expectant moms and expectant dads about getting ready for birth?

Mike: Yeah. It's hard to have one, right. Well do a couple of, well, so one quick thing at our hospital, we were allowed to take anything that wasn't bolted to the floor. I highly recommend that. So any diapers that are leftover, especially during the time of COVID, they can't maybe all the time, they can't take that stuff back. Right. So anything like diapers or any, anything that, that you can and ask if you're not sure, like, if you're not sure if you can take it ask because most of the time you can.

Nicole: Yeah. And honestly you probably already paid for it. They've probably already billed your insurance for it. So just take it. Yes. Great advice.

Mike: I think, um, my wife and I had, uh, have a really great relationship. We had a really great relationship before the baby. We still have a great relationship, but that requires work. And I think you're wrapped up in this new baby and the baby is the most important thing, but the baby isn't going to, isn't going to thrive if your partnership isn't thriving either. And I think just like remembering to take the time when you can, or to do those small things with your partner is just like, is so, so important. You know, if, even if it's like the five minutes snuggle in the morning or it's, you know, just a quiet moment with a cup of coffee, like those things are so incredibly valuable and I'm, I'm valuing them more and more and more as our baby becomes more alert and more awake and is becoming a little bit more needy. Um, just really taking the time with your partner to keep that relationship going is just, I don't know, it's worth its weight in gold. Like it's just so valuable.

Nicole: That is outstanding advice and something that will help keep your partnership strong throughout because there will be a time, although it's several years down the road, there'll be a time when it's back to you and your partner again. So the better you can create and maintain those connections, um, and not get so swallowed into, into Parenthood is, um, I think great for the longevity of the relationship. That's outstanding advice.

Mike: Yeah. I agree with that.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. So where can people connect with you? You don't have to say if you don't, you know, if you're not on social media or anything like that, but if, um, if there's a place where people can connect with you, uh, is that, an option?

Mike: Yeah, I'm not, I mean, I, I'm not,

Nicole: That's easy sometimes I wish I couldn't be as well, but, but, but no, I think you're a smart man for that.

Nicole: All right. Well, thank you Michael so much for coming on to the podcast. This has been a really great conversation. I know without question that many, many people are going to find this discussion useful. I appreciate your honesty, your candor. I'm really grateful to have had you on.

Mike: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure,

Nicole: A great birth story episode. Mike comes across as, like I said, a really supportive and helpful partner, and I really appreciate him taking the time to come on and share their birth story from his perspective. Now, after every episode where I have a guest on, I do something called Nicole's Notes where I talk about my top three or four takeaways from the conversation. Here are my Nicole's Notes from my conversation with Mike. All right, number one. I'm not saying that you shouldn't do anything towards the end of your birth. Like, don't feel like you can celebrate or you know that your partner can't have a drink or anything after a certain amount of time. But do remember that birth is unpredictable and we cannot predict with any certainty how anything will go. So just be prepared for that fact. I will say that towards the end of pregnancy, you know, you should certainly be prepared that after 37 weeks you can go into labor at any point, but in general, birth is unpredictable.

Nicole: So just get yourself ready and keep that in mind. So you can be prepared for that just in case. The second thing is, as Mike pointed out, partners have needs too. Dads can actually have postpartum depression as well. And, you know, we barely look after moms postpartum. We certainly don't do much to look after partners. So you have to be a bit more proactive as a partner in making sure that your needs are met as a new parent. Sometimes that may involve talking to a provider, a therapist, even, maybe it involves getting active in a Facebook group or things like that, but do take time to take care of yourself and know that those range of emotions and things that you experience are perfectly normal from a partner perspective as well. Number three, I want to highlight the point about nurturing your relationships with your partner.

Nicole: That's really important in order for you to be able to take the best care of your baby. Now in the beginning, when you have a little tiny baby, sometimes it can be hard to find that time to nurture relationships. And your relationship may take a little bit of a back seat in terms of the attention that it received, just because the baby needs that attention in the beginning, but do keep it in your mind that you need to get back to finding those connections with your partner. And it doesn't have to be anything like complicated. It doesn't even have to be like fancy date nights or anything like that. It could even be something as simple as you know, watching a movie, having a cup of coffee together over breakfast, where there are no electronic devices where the two of you are just reconnecting with each other.

Nicole: So don't forget about looking out for your relationship in the midst of having this new baby, because your baby won't be around forever and eventually it will be just the two of you again. And you want to have built the strength and things around your relationships so that you continue to stay strong. And again, that makes you the best possible version of yourself as a parent as well, when you have a strong relationship to, to build on. And then the last thing I will say is, I know this sounds like a cliche, but the point that babies grow up fast, my gosh, they grow up fast. It seems like literally just yesterday. And again, I feel like I sound like an old person, but my, my older one who is now 13, it seems like just yesterday, she was small enough that I could fit her from like the tip of my fingers to my elbow.

Nicole: Cause she was a preemie and she's tiny and now she's like 5'6. So it just goes by fast, same thing for my second one. She just seems like yesterday, she was a little fat baby and now she's 11. So I say all that to say, do, be intentional about spending time with them. When you look back on their, their childhood and them growing up, um, you know, you won't regret that you didn't go to that work thing or that you didn't go to that party or event or things like that. You'll regret not spending more time with them. So obviously it's a balance. You have to do things and I'm not saying like give up your whole life obviously for your child, but do make it a priority to spend some time with them because that time will go by fast and before you know it, they'll be grown.

Nicole: And let me stop talking before I start getting emotional about having older children. All right. So there you have it. Please subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcast or wherever you're listening to podcast. And I'd really appreciate it if you leave an honest review in Apple Podcast, it helps the show to grow helps other women find the show as well. Also if you're a first-time mom, you're giving birth at a hospital in the U S then check out the Birth Preparation Course. It's my signature online childbirth education class that gets you calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful birth. You can check out all the details of the Birth Preparation Course at drnicolerankins.com/enroll. All right. So that's it for this episode do come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth.

Nicole: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. Head to my website, drnicolerankins.com to get even more great information, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class, on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works, as well as everything you need to know about my signature online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com and I will see you next week.