Since Eric happened to be born at eight in the morning, right as the shift in the hospital was changing, there were two midwives at the delivery. But I was the only family member in the delivery room with Alisa. So while the midwives did their professional thing, I took my best stab at playing the role of loved one providing coaching and support.
Like most men of my generation, I took it for granted that I would be involved in the birth of my child. I was proud and happy to be there, and wouldn’t have been anywhere else. But during the final hour, when Alisa was approaching, and then inhabiting, the animal state that saw Eric into the world, it did occur to me how blind I was in the coaching role, with no personal access to Alisa's experience.
Which raises the point of how unusual it really is for male family members (i.e., non-doctors) to be involved in labor. When you consider the full range of birth customs around the world and through time, hasn't it nearly always been a woman’s female family members who helped her during labor? But, viewed through the standards of our time, my presence at the birth was completely unremarkable. It shows you how malleable human social behavior really is. And it's also a great example of how much we expect from marriage these days - I am fairly certain that my father's mother and father did not enjoy the degree of empathy (if you will) that would have seen her looking to him for emotional support during labor.