The Scottie Pippen of the Delivery Room

After nine hours in labour, my wife’s performance reached the levels of Jordan’s 69 points in The Boston Garden, the “Flu Game,” and his Double Nickel vs The Knicks.

While my wife summons superhuman strength to expel a tiny being from her body, it’s tough not to feel helpless. I sit in a chair beside her while she endures the pain of contractions. I fetch her water and ice chips between providing words of encouragement. She’s achieving greatness and I wish I could do more.

I knew that if I wanted to match my wife’s efforts, I would have to be the ultimate teammate. I would have to be Scottie Pippen.

Scottie Pippen is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He’s also considered the best teammate. It was Scottie’s job to provide a spark in practice when Michael needed one. When someone had the unenviable task to guard Magic Johnson in the NBA Finals so Michael didn’t have to, Scottie stepped up. When Michael was slumped over with the flu, it was Scottie who carried him back to the bench.

Partners should strive to be as prepared, selfless and supportive in the delivery room as the greatest teammate of all time. Here are some sure fire ways to be the Scottie Pippen to your wife’s Michael Jordan:

Be Prepared

Games aren’t lost in practice, but you can lay down the foundation for a big win. We husbands and partners have to do our homework, study and get mentally ready. Start by talking about different scenarios for when your baby decides to blow the opening whistle:

What are signs of labour? What are the signs of false labour?

When should you go to the hospital? How long will it take? How will you get there?

What if you’re at work and your partner goes into labour?

What if you’re out with your buddies for your birthday and your wife begins to have contractions after your drink arrives? Do you order the steak pie or the fish and chips?

Take Care of your Partner

I have never had the privilege of squeezing a football out of a small hole in my body. From what I saw (and can never unsee) – it seems kind of painful.

In my prenatal class, I learned that I can help alleviate some of the discomfort that my wife would be feeling. For example, we were told that massage tools, like a sock with a tennis ball inside, would come in handy. The nurse in the delivery room with us also had helpful suggestions like different massages that I could perform.

You’re allowed to take care of yourself too. It can be a long haul. You’re not any good to anyone fatigued and cranky. It’s ok to take quick breaks to stretch your legs or to compose yourself.

Communicate

Before labour day, I thought my role would be to keep my wife focused on the end goal. I thought I would help her think about the finish line to get through the pain. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

After actually talking to my wife, I was told my role. I would keep her distracted from the pain by whatever means necessary. Videos, terrible puns, awful celebrity impressions, Oscar-night winners and losers – whatever it took to keep her mind off the pain.

When the time comes – seize the opportunity

You won’t know when it will come. It may come more than once. There will be a point where you will be asked to summon a little extra strength of your own. Your partner may demand a bucket of ice just so she can dump it on your head. Or you may have to keep your fears to yourself so as not to induce it in your partner.

The delivery room is the NBA Finals. It’s tough to be prepared when you’ve never been there before. It’s important to have the right mindset. I was prepared to step up when I could, take what my wife gave me, and not let the little things get to me. Because again – and I cannot stress this enough – you are not the Michael Jordan in that room. The one pushing a tiny human out of her body is the superstar.

We may not be out there making all the shots (or getting the shoe deals), but in the end, we’re still a big part of raising that baby triumphantly in the air while the confetti falls from the rafters. We’ll share the sweat and the tears with our partners, and together revel in the glory of our achievement.

Now that you know your role, it’s time to tie your laces and start practicing your dance moves for the victory parade.

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