A father’s birth story

The evening before Aaron’s birth, Nicole and I both got food poisoning. We both had a rough night, and in the early morning, Nicole was feeling particu- larly awful, despite drinking lots of fluid and walking around the apartment for a few hours.

I kept recommending we go to the hospital for some IV fluids and medications; initially, she was hoping to avoid heading in, but at around 5 a.m., she agreed to go. I checked her cervix just before we left to see if maybe she was in labor (since she was saying she felt crampy, but had been denying outright contractions). Her cervix was still closed, but very soft.

In labor? Or not?

As soon as Nicole was hooked up to the fetal monitors at the hospital, I could seemthat our baby was doing just fine.

But Nicole was having contractions every three to four minutes. Her triage nurse checked her cervix and she was already 3 centimeters dilated, just 45 minutes after I’d checked her, so we were admitted to the labor and delivery department.

Nicole’s labor nurse asked if she would like to walk around for an hour or so while labor progressed. She agreed, and off we went. Everything was initially very laid- back, and I even checked in on a couple of my patients.

After about 45 minutes of walking, Nicole’s contractions suddenly became much more intense, so we headed back to the labor room.

Nicole’s nurse originally wasn’t going to recheck her cervix, since it had been less

than an hour. But at our request, she looked and found her to be dilated to 7 centimeters already. Labor was progressing quickly!

At that point, Nicole requested an epidural and Dr. Amy Hammers (Nicole’s OBGYN) was updated on how quickly Nicole was progressing. We spent the next few minutes talking about expectations and tips for pushing.

Playing a new role

I am frequently asked if I delivered Aaron. I always explain that I’m an OBGYN every day; I wanted to just be a dad for (at least that part of) the day.

Also, in all honestly, I was pretty sure I was going to cry, and a small part of me was worried I’d start crying during the delivery and not be able to see. Then I’d wind up dropping a baby for the first time ever, and I wasn’t about to chance that!

Once it was time to push, Dr. Hammers was awesome at coaching and cheering on Nicole while I did the normal “dad job” and held back a leg, while encouraging her and telling her she was doing great.

Nicole did a fantastic job at pushing and, in less than an hour, Aaron was born. As expected, Nicole and I both cried.

Immediately, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of love, thankfulness and happiness. It was funny how someone I had just met could already mean so much to me. I was also so impressed with Nicole and how well she did with everything.

Due to my frequent experience with the miracle of childbirth, I knew I was never going to have the typical dad experience during labor and delivery. That said, I was amazed with how quickly and smoothly everything progressed for Nicole as a first-time mom, and she still teases me about thinking she wasn’t in labor initially.

One year later

As an OBGYN, my pediatric knowledge pretty much stops after the cord is cut.

After Aaron’s birth, we faced a difficult learning curve, trying to figure out what he wanted or needed when he was fussy or why he wouldn’t sleep through the night, which was the case for his first nine months.

I was always so jealous of people whose kids would sleep through the night after just a few weeks. We tried every sleep- training trick out there, but nothing helped. The only benefit was we didn’t have to deal with the 4-month sleep regression, because we hadn’t made any progression to have lost!

Today Aaron is super smiley and a very happy baby, which helps during the most difficult times, like when he screamed incessantly for no clear reason from 1-3 a.m. during his first eight months. It’s been crazy to see how much he’s changed in such a short amount of time, and we can understand now why parents frequently say “It goes by so fast.”

In an instant, our little 6.5-pound baby has become a tiny person with an adorable little personality, talking more and more and chasing around our pet rabbit.

When I was growing up, I always wanted to be two things — a doctor and a father.

As an OBGYN, I absolutely love what I do, getting to help so many people — and being a part of their lives.

Finally getting to experience the latter, though, has been a dream come true. Whether it’s my day off and Aaron and I are spending all day together, or I’m coming home from work and I haven’t seen him all day, Aaron is always happy to see me, has a huge smile on his face and is full of giggles.

Father’s Day may officially be the third Sunday in June, but Aaron truly makes every day feel like Father’s Day.

Dr. David Clay sees patients at Clinic Sofia, a leading OBGYN clinic known for its personalized approach to women’s health care with locations in Edina and Maple Grove. He is board certified with the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Learn more at clinicsofia.com.