Meet Lloyd Lee. Lloyd is an awesome dad with a unique perspective – he has coached his wife, Chelese, through three different births in two different settings. And they have three sweet daughters to show for it. When not spending time at home with “the girls”, this native Texan is working hard at his green construction & solar business, Native, or enjoying BBQ and quality craft-beers at his family-owned micro-brewery, Smoke’n Hops.
BPP: As we can see in your photo, you are surrounded by lovely ladies. Be honest – what’s it like to be the only male in a family of five?
LL: I’ve learned that although many people make emotionally-based decisions which they later rationalize with logic, the women in my life are content with just the first part of this decision making process. Besides this, there is a great deal more glitter, random singing, dressing up, and hugging than the primarily male household in which I grew up.
BPP: Your wife, Chelese, gave birth to your first little girl over seven years ago. Can you remember what that moment was like?
LL: Definitely. It was a mixture of pride in Chelese, astonishment that her body could do what I was witnessing, relief that the baby was healthy, and an immediate sense of heightened responsibility.
BPP: You have had the unique experience of coaching Chelese through two hospital births and one midwife-assisted birth in a birthing center. Can you share with us the key differences that you noticed between the two settings?
LL: The hospital births felt like a well-rehearsed process. Not so much for us, but for the numerous staff members who had been through this countless times. They knew and followed the process and if things weren’t going accordingly, changes were made to bring it back within bounds. The birthing center was a completely different experience. They approach each birth as a unique experience and allow the mother and baby to dictate the rules vs. having preconceived notions of what it should be like. This fundamental difference empowers the mother to focus on the job at hand and not worry about missing a deadline for progress, which will result in intervention.
BPP: Since you are now a childbirth veteran, any suggestions for dads or birth partners on how to support the woman who is laboring and delivering?
LL: Know your partner and how they want to be supported. Support comes in lots of forms and not everyone responds to it the same way. My wife appreciated verbal support, physical contact, and reminders of how the birth was progressing. Try to stick to the birth plan and act as the liaison between the mother and hospital staff. Without this, the mother may make decisions to expedite delivery that may leave her feeling defeated later.
BPP: Without getting too graphic, can you share what it is like to be at the other end of the labor and delivery experience? Oh, what the heck, you can get graphic if you would like.
LL: Pretty amazing. I never fully appreciated why it’s referred to as labor until witnessing it myself. The “miracle” of childbirth does not involve pixie dust or magic. It’s laden with blood, sweat, and tears. Nothing reminds you that we are another animal roaming this planet like the instant that your baby’s head pops out.
BPP: Any suggestions on how birth partners can communicate with the nurse, doctors, doulas and/or midwives?
LL: I would just recommend communicating desires related to how you’d like the birth to go. It doesn’t guarantee it will go as planned, but having a plan helps all parties understand expectations.
BPP: After each baby was born, how did you support Chelese as she recovered from the delivery?
LL: The biggest area of support is to let the mother sleep. Laboring and giving birth are exhausting and having a new baby that relies on its mother for food makes for limited sleep. Also, it sometimes takes the baby a little while to get the hang of breastfeeding. Being supportive through this process is important because it can be stressful for the mother.
BPP: What was it like for you the first few days and weeks after bringing your new babies home?
LL: It’s amazing how quickly you forget the size of a newborn. I spend the first few days marveling at the tiny-ness of the new addition to the family.
BPP: : If you had to give one sanity-saving tip to expecting or new parents, what would it be?
LL: It’s cliche that kids change your lives, which is absolutely true, but I think it’s important to not let your kids change how you live. We try to do most of the same things we used to do before kids, with them in tow. Kids are resilient and keeping them isolated to the house doesn’t help them or the new parents.
Lloyd’s Sanity Savers:
- When acting as a birth partner, know your partner’s wishes and the birth plan before heading into the delivery room. You will be functioning as a support person, advocate and liaison for the woman that is giving birth. That’s a big job to take on!
- After baby is born, mom will continue to need emotional support and time to rest while she recovers from the delivery and adjusts to breast-feeding.
- Witnessing the birth of a child is amazing and inspiring – savor the experience and don’t let the adventure stop there. Your children will benefit if you continue to live your life to the fullest, with them along for the ride.
Thanks for sharing the often untold story of what it is like on other side of the delivery experience, Lloyd. We appreciate your insights and perspective! – C & K ♥