In these final days leading up to having the baby, there’s been a lot of advice for me, the dad-to-be, on what to expect, and how to prepare. Lots of clearly false information, doled out by so-called “doctors,” so-called “books,” and “Doulas” which, for all I know, could be the Dutch word for “hippie.” Lots of hoo-ha about packing bags, and timing contractions, and making “who to call lists,” and the slow build of contractions until the cervix (which I’m pretty sure is a kind of garden pest) “effaces.” Pff. Please. Thank God I was raised on sitcoms and movies, so I know what to actually expect.
Q: How should I prepare in the days leading up to labor?
A: As the expectant father, it is your job to race around comically, running in to things and dropping food every time she makes a sound. If she says anything that rhymes “labor” or “baby” or mentions a “contract,” then it’s very important jump up shouting “Here we go! Here we go!” and run out to the car without your keys, the suitcase, or your wife. If you’re really wanting to “sell” the experience, just starting running down the street toward the hospital.
Q: How will I know when labor begins?
A: Ignore all that stuff about “timing contractions” and the slow build of labor. Labor begins one of two ways:
1. Your wife will suddenly moan and announce that “It’s time! It’s time!” You – despite days of hyperbolic panicking – must then not know what she means and say something like, “Nonsense, the movie doesn’t start for another hour,” to which she will reply, “No, you idiot! The baby’s coming!” At this point – and it’s a good idea to stretch out – you should bug out your eyes and shriek, “WhhhaaaAAAATTT???!!!”
*Note: there may be an exception if you’re in a taxi or in the woods. In this situation, when she shouts, “The baby’s coming!” you should then ask when, so that she can tell you, “Right now!” You will then need to find a charmingly unusual place to deliver the baby immediately.
2. Usually inspired by an ironic statement like “These floors are filthy!” your wife’s water will break. When this happens, 3-5 gallons of fluid will immediately dump on the floor. It is strongly recommended to have someone on stand-by to then walk through the room, obliviously, who can slip and fall.
Q: When my wife announces that it’s time, should I do a double-take, or a spit-take?
A: Excellent question. The general rule is that if her water breaks, do a double take (two water gags in a row is never a good plan). Otherwise, trust your instincts. The fact is, it’s a clutch moment and no one’s going to judge you too harshly if you choose the less funny option.
Q: What’s the best way to drive to the hospital?
A: However will get you pulled over. This is an excellent way to work in another double-take, and to then get a police escort.
Q: What happens after that?
A: Well, TV’s always been a little unclear on this. There’s a little bit of yelling and pushing, and then the nurse hands you a clean, 3-month-old baby. It only takes a few minutes, though. Likely the mom will have a delicate sheen of perspiration, and you’ll have a faint 5-o’clock shadow.
And that’s it! After that, you’ll be ready for those kids to start wise-cracking, making two dates for the same night, and – about once a year – having a very special episode where they learn an important life lesson.