The man's role in the delivery room has a come a long way from the smoke-filled waiting rooms of our father's time. I actually like the image of waiting with a bunch of other guys in a similar predicament as mine: "Now what?" Offering each other a cigarette, pacing back and forth (or, in cartoons, creating a hole in the rug from all the pacing), then passing out cigars when the big moment finally arrives.
That hands-off approach went away almost around the same time as smoking in hospitals did. Now waiting rooms can feel almost like a spectator sport, with only a bleacher section missing. The father nowadays is expected in the delivery room, a willing participant in his child's birth. He is there not only as moral support and breathing coach, but gets to witness the baby coming out of the birth canal and cutting the umbilical cord. Maybe in seven month's time I can even circumsize my son (were it to be a boy, obviously)!
Along with my other father-to-be hangups, this new role in the delivery room will surely cause me the stress of performance anxiety. Should I speak, should I cheer, take photos? Apparently I am there at my wife's whim, to be whatever she needs me to be. I think I can do that...
I remember a story about my birth my parents told me long ago. Shortly after I was born (and probably spanked on the bum by the doctor, another relic of birthing past), my father held me up high in his arms (for an inspection of the chassis?). I guess he was pleased to learn the plumbing worked since apparently I promptly peed down on his face!
I look forward to a similar experience with my child, right after passing out the cigars.