Why I need you in the delivery room with me

It started with a discussion

My husband and I were having–

You could call it an argument–

About the difference between

Animal and



“Have you ever watched a cow

Give birth?”

Asked my husband.

“They just moo and

Work the calf out of their body.

It’s all a

Natural process.

There’s not all these



I was a little pissed off at

His audacity–

He was including pain interventions in his argument–

Plus I was skeptical that

He had ever

Watched a cow give birth.

However, it piqued my interest:

Is live birth as

Complicated for other animals

As it is for humans?

I took to the Internet

And learned a thing or two about

Human birth.

Turns out

Four-legged mammals have a relatively large

Pelvic opening to push their young through.

Because we walk upright

Humans have relatively

Narrow pelvic bones.

Not only does a human baby’s head

Barely fit through the pelvic opening,

It even has to make a

Quarter turn

Right at the end to make it out.

“That’s why,”

The doctor on the

YouTube video explained

As she



An infant skull through a set of

Pelvic bones,

“Humans are the

Only animal that



To give birth.”

Wow, I thought.

So true.

Other animals go off to be alone,

To hide,

When the labor pains come.

We animals

Call for help.

The social instinct,

I thought,

Would seem to have a

Darwinian purpose.

The truth is,

I’m only starting to grasp how much I




When I was young,

I confused an

Independent streak and a

Love for solitude with

Not needing people.

I remember once during my

Freshman year of college:

I watched a group of girls go

Down to dinner together,

And I, who hadn’t made an effort

To make friends, got ready

Alone in my dorm room.

In a spasm of loneliness, I thought,

“I don’t need people.”

And I knew immediately:

It wasn’t true.

I do need people.

It’s an instinct as strong as the

Need to eat,

Or sleep.

It makes sense:

As a species, we literally

Wouldn’t survive birth

Without help from others.

And here’s how that

Played out for me in the delivery room on

April 28, 2012

As I labored and delivered my son.

Four people in the room with me:

Midwife, nurse, doula, husband.

The midwife and the nurse were

Guiding my little son’s

Bobble head into the world.

My husband and the doula were at my head,

Holding my hands.

As the contractions

Built into their gripping pitch, and

All I knew was the

Black, vacuous void of

The pushing,

I had to


My husband.

I had to grip his hand,

I had to hear his voice saying,

“You’re doing it, Jen.

Good job.

You’re almost there.”

The sound I remember most from

Rocky’s birth six weeks ago

Wasn’t his first cry.

It was the gasping sob

My husband let out when I had finally


The impossible,

And he yelled,

“Babe, you did it!”

And everyone in the room was

Laughing and smiling.

Do it alone?

Good god, no.

Grip bed rails with my hands, or

Dig my fingernails into my palms?

That would’ve been hell.

I needed my husband’s hands to grasp

As much as I needed the midwife to

Guide my son’s relatively huge head

Through my relatively narrow hips

(Who knew?).

And that’s,

I guess,

Part of what makes me



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