Even though this is my fifth child, still, when I feel my first labor contraction while grocery shopping in the early afternoon, my initial response is excitement mixed with panic and fear. It takes a long prayer, combined with deep breathing in the middle of the bread and jelly aisle, before I feel semi-calm.

I drive home while continuing to breathe deeply and softly talking to my baby to let him know I am ready for him. Feeling calmer, I dial my husband: “Honey, I think…”

He stops me, almost screaming: “I am coming, don’t do anything!!!”

“Believe me, I am not going anywhere,” I reassure him, turning into our street.

Fifteen minutes later, I am changing awkwardly in the bedroom, and I hear some reckless driver racing up the hill. I have a strong feeling I know who it is — my precious, and beyond-nervous husband. I smile and hear the slamming of the door and him galloping up the stairs. It’s cute.

One second later, he’s next to me and staring as if he expects a bomb (his extremely pregnant wife) to explode right before his eyes. “Let’s go!” he yells, then, “Wait! I am hungry. I must eat first!”

It’s been awhile since I’ve heard his voice so high-pitched, and I begin to laugh. Well, not for long; the contractions are getting stronger now.

“We need to go now,” I re-focus my freaked-out hubby, pointing to the ready-to-go hospital bag in the corner.

I kiss my kids (my teenagers will watch the younger ones until my mom arrives) and get into the car.

The hospital is twenty minutes away, right off the freeway. Before I know it, we are at the entrance. By now, my husband seems calmer; his eyes are full of love and compassion. For a split second, in the middle of the hospital hallway, our eyes connect.

“You are my hero,” he says.

“And you are mine,” I whisper back and smile weakly.

I don’t know why, but in this moment, while looking at my husband’s pale face, I flash on the fears he may be facing: “Will my wife be okay? Will the baby be healthy? Will it replace me the second it gets born? Will I be a good dad to this one? Can I provide for my growing family?”

Suddenly, I am overcome by a deep sense of appreciation and tenderness for my “partner in crime”. There are so many things I’ve never realized

Poor guy. Time after time, as his wife monopolizes the spotlight, his own feelings, fears and concerns are completely neglected, and he’s been left all alone to stare into an opening void of the unknown. No wonder he still does the things that, while I’m in labor, drive me up the wall.

This time is no different, yet cloaked in the deep sense of appreciation I’m feeling, I take notice but ignore them.

But now, weeks later, with a bundle of joy at my breast, I am reflect. If I could turn back time, I’d ask him not to do the following things again.

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