Birth: A Father’s Perspective-McKinley’s Birth

This is the story of giving birth from a father’s harebrained outlook. I have two wonderful children, McKinley and Hudson. My wife, Katie, did 99.9% of the birthing work. Here is the story of child-rearing from my point of view:

Read Part II-Finding out about Hudson
Read Part I-McKinley’s Pregnancy Stick

Imagine if a custodian watched Matt Damon in Goodwill Hunting and thought that they could solve an advanced algebraic graph theory. Or that a future president watched Bill Pullman in Independence Day and thought that they could handle an international crisis because Pullman sent aliens back to outer space (actually Pullman’s character would be a lot more reassuring compared to some of our presidential candidates now). I was the dunce who believed watching the birth scene in Knocked Up would be enough to prepare me for the birth of my first child.

It’s in my DNA to have problems paying attention during classes, unless I’m very interested in the subject matter. I blame it on genetics. I imagined that Lamaze class would be a bunch of breathing drills and a lot more interactive. The first class Katie and I attended, the teacher went straight into lecture mode and I went straight into “zone-out” mode. In my mind that was okay, I had seen Knocked Up several times and that was all I needed to know while in the birthing room.

knocked up

For those of you that haven’t seen Knocked Up, it’s a 2007 Judd Apatow movie starring Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen. Rogen impregnates (knocks up) Heigl during a one-night stand and the movie follows her pregnancy. At the end of the film, there are several graphic scenes as Heigl gives birth in her hospital room. Rogen doesn’t handle the birth in a tremendous manner, but he does a good enough job to keep Heigl happy. Jay Baruchel, a co-star in the movie, accidentally goes into the room right when the head is coming out and then freaks out. I was much more of a Jay Baruchel than a Seth Rogen during McKinley’s birthing process.

I finally figured out on the night of August 21, 2010 that I should have paid closer attention during Lamaze class. Unfortunately, that was also the night that Katie went into labor. As Katie started to complain of possible contractions as we lay in bed in our Ardmore house, my eyes jutted wide open and I thought to myself, “what in the hell am I supposed to do now?”

Katie remembered the overnight bag (she packed it too) and we rushed out of the house. I’m somewhat surprised that she didn’t drive too. We drove the half-mile to Forsyth Hospital and even though Katie was the one in labor, she was also the one that did all of the talking during the check-in phase. We went into a room and they checked her cervix and declared she wasn’t quite ready yet, and they actually sent us home. I’m not sure why they wanted to put me through several more anxiety-filled hours of waiting (like we were going to go back to bed) at home, not to mention the pain that Katie was going through. Two hours later we headed back up the road to the hospital and this time they admitted Katie.


I did okay for the first tests, and then the anesthesiologist came in for the epidural and my eyes rolled back in my head for the first time. He pulled out a needle that looked like it should have been administered to a humpback whale not to a human. My first piece of advice for fathers is don’t watch the needle go into your wife. It’s very disturbing.

After the epidural, I settled down a bit as Katie relaxed as the medicine took effect. Katie continued to be the one who talked to the nurses the most as I wobbly stood there in a state of shock. One decision I made that helped me stay upright during the whole process was to stay up high. That means that I decided to stand up at the top of the bed by Katie’s pillow and look down. There was no way that I could have made it through the whole birth process if I went down low and watched all of the stuff that goes on down there.

As McKinley came closer to birth, here are some of the thoughts that ran through my mind:

  • Stay High! 
  • Look at Katie’s face and don’t look down at the nurses and doctor
  • She is really squeezing my hand hard (I was smart enough never to verbally complain about anything during birth, I kept it all to myself)
  • Just breathe along with Katie, don’t forget to breathe

The one time I made the mistake to look down was when Katie’s water finally broke and discharge came flying out. This was my second near-faint moment.

  • Oh man! What the heck was that? I think she just projectile vomited from down there. Is that possible?

I made it through and McKinley made it out. I have a constant tremor in my hands already, and I’m sure they were shaking like a major earthquake as I cut the umbilical cord.

Katie was a true champion during the entire pregnancy, while I was a big wimp. Find out in my next installment about Hudson’s birth if I learned my lesson.







Birth: A Father’s Perspective Part II

This is the story of giving birth from a father’s harebrained outlook. I have two wonderful children, McKinley and Hudson. My wife, Katie, did 99.9% of the birthing work. Here is the story of child-rearing from my point of view:

Read Part I-McKinley Edition Here

Part II- The Pregnancy Stick (Hudson Edition)

If you read part one, you realized that Katie and I wasted an exorbitant amount of time and money on pregnancy tests for our first child, McKinley. Two years later, we went after child number two. As I have come to learn, the second child gets the short-end of the stick in multiple areas (sorry Hudson). As a second-child myself, I speak from experience. I can only imagine that this only goes additionally downhill for the third child and beyond.


Just a Few of Many Areas Where Second Children Get the Shaft:
1. Clothes and Toys. You are going to get all hand me down clothes if you are the same gender as your sibling. In some cases, you will get the hand me down clothes of your opposite-sex gender. For instance, Hudson was gallivanting around the snow this winter in a pink, cheetah print snowsuit.
2. Automobiles. If you are the second child, and your sibling goes off to college, you most likely will just get their car. For instance, after my parents sold my Jeep (that is another story) without my knowledge, I had to drive Copper. Copper was my sister’s 1982 Mazda Piece-a (A Mazda Piece-a is a name for a type of Mazda that was a real piece of you know what), and it was named after its color. I had no say in getting Copper, it was just forced on me. I know I sound a little bitter. I should have just been happy that I had a piece-a, instead of no piece-a at all. Anyways, Copper only lasted a couple months with me, before I killed it on a mountain in West Virginia.
3. Bumps and Bruises. When your first child falls down, you coddle over them like they just broke their neck. When they sneeze, it’s like they have the Bubonic plague. When the first child cries, most parents feel that they will need psychiatric help for the rest of their life. None of this carries on with the second child.
4. Finding out you are pregnant with a second child doesn’t cause the same amount of craziness as finding out about the first child. This isn’t to say that the excitement level goes down, we were just as thrilled with both kids. You will see below that we were now professionals at finding out that Katie was pregnant.

Hudson’s Pregnancy Stick:
After going through McKinley’s pregnancy, Katie had now become a wiz during her pregnancy with Hudson. She didn’t need an ovulation calendar, because she had it memorized in her brain. There wasn’t the same fear in the air about whether she would become pregnant. There was a newly found confidence in everything pregnancy related the second time around. You could look at this week’s Super Bowl. Katie was the wide-eyed and nervous Cam Newton with McKinley. When it was time for Hudson’s pregnancy, the old sheriff, Peyton Manning version of Katie, was in town.


We didn’t find out that Katie was pregnant with Hudson from the friendly confines of our Ardmore home. We found out at Mellow Mushroom! We had some friends in town from Ohio, and we were waiting for our tables, when Katie said she felt like she might be pregnant. I guess you can call it mother’s intuition, because I had no idea what she was talking about.

I thought Katie would want us to go home, and she would send me back and forth to the drug store to get a hundred pregnancy tests of all shapes and sizes. Instead, she looked into her purse and said, “Actually, I have a test in here.” Her friend goaded her a bit, and they decided they should just go into the bathroom at the restaurant, since we had to wait anyways.

In the words of my late friend, Richard, “that really weirded me out.” In fact, everything girls do together in the bathroom together majorly freaks me out. McKinley is only five, and she already goes into the bathroom with friends and does peculiar things women do in there together.

So, Katie went into the bathroom with her friend like it was no big deal, and left me at the bar at Mellow Mushroom, wandering about how one person can change so much in three short years. She came out with a big smile on her face. She hugged me and cried a little bit, but these weren’t Mississippi River tears. They were more like Silas Creek tears. Katie didn’t make me run down the street to the CVS to awkwardly get a bunch of different kinds of tests. She was perfectly satisfied and convinced that she was pregnant, and she was right.

Obviously, Katie learned a lot after her pregnancy with McKinley. I just became more confused!

Coming up: Part III-The Birth of McKinley



Birth:A Father’s Perspective-My Birth

This is the story of giving birth from a father’s harebrained outlook. I have two wonderful children, McKinley and Hudson. My wife, Katie, did 99.9% of the birthing work. Here is the story of child-rearing from my point of view:

The History of My Birdbrain Birth Genetics

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree or in this case from the birth. I’m very lucky to have Rence and Barbara Callahan as parents. I have the best parents anyone could ask for in this world. Seriously. But in this case, my empty-head on the idea of birth came from one place: genetics. It didn’t come from my mom either; just my dad.

Just like Katie, my mom did 99.9 of the work on the birth of my sister, Lawren, and I. When I say work, I mean a nearly impossible endeavor. Pushing out a Callahan-sized head is no easy task!

On March 31, 1980, President Jimmy Carter deregulated the banking industry. Pink Floyd and Blondie had the top songs on the charts. The World Boxing Association Heavy-Weight Title between “Big” John Tate and Mike “Hercules” Weaver was fought that night. And Jay Callahan was born at Forsyth County Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

I can’t claim to remember my birth, but I have heard stories over the years. Some of these stories might be somewhat embellished from my own imagination.

There was some rain and fog on the early spring day and it was a cool 63 degrees in Winston. My parents had just moved to Winston from the sprawling metropolis of Gastonia via Charlottesville, VA via West Virginia/Pennsylvania. Lawren was three and a half-years-old and chomping at the bit to have a little brother that would never-ever get on her nerves. My parents were living in the West End Neighborhood, where I would spend my entire childhood.

My dad really wanted my mom to hold off until April 1st to give birth. Not because April 1st is April Fool’s Day, even though that day would be fitting for my birthday. Instead, he wanted me to share a birthday with my grandfather, “Daddy Tut” Callahan. I can imagine him telling my mom she wasn’t ready to go to the hospital quite yet, and to not do any Lamaze breathes once she was at the hospital. “Just hold off a little while longer!” I made it to 9:00 pm, but my mom could not wait any longer.

Just like me, my dad is a huge sports fan. In 1980, you could watch boxing on regular television and you didn’t have to fork out a lot of money to watch on pay-per-view. Along with the Tate vs. Weaver fight, Larry Holmes and Sugar Ray Leonard also fought that night. There was no such thing as televisions in the hospital rooms back then, so you had to go out into the lobby to watch the tube.

There is a good chance that the doctor that delivered me also delivered you if you were born around the same time in Winston-Salem. My mom’s doctor, Dr. Harold Pollard, just so happened to be the father of my junior prom date, Nell. It was a little awkward going into the Pollard’s house to pick up Nell, knowing that her dad was the first person ever to see me. That is a different story.

I can picture the scenario. My dad trying to sneak back and forth from the birthing room to the lobby for the fight. Between rounds, he would go back to the room to ask my mom to slow down, and just hold-off a little while longer.

Tate was the current champion and the heavy favorite in the fight. Weaver was just a journey-man fighter and was much older and smaller than Tate. For the first eleven rounds, the champion had the edge. Each round my dad would sneak back out, and each round my mom would get a little closer to my birth.

I can picture my dad being stopped in the hallway by Dr. Pollard around round 12 and the doctor telling him that it was close to time. I can see my dad going back into the lobby to check-in on the fight one more time, before he had to stay in the room, and realizing I wasn’t going to make it until April 1st. I picture several people smoking in the lobby, and it having a very “Mad Men” feel.

The last round my dad witnessed was the 12th where things started to shift in the fight. Weaver miraculously started to take control, but my dad realized he had to get back to the room

As my mom pushed harder and harder, Weaver fought stronger and stronger against the champ. I can imagine that my dad was standing at the top of the bed, avoiding all of the things most guys don’t like to see during the birthing process as my mom continued her battle.  “Hercules” Weaver knew he had one last round to knockout the champion in the 15th and final round.

With just a minute left in the fight, Weaver hit Tate with a hard right and then a hard left as my mom pushed with all of her might. As Dr. Pollard reached his hands out to grab me, the champ “Big” John Tate had his back against the ropes. As my watermelon-sized noggin popped out, Weaver swung the hardest left hook of his life crushing the champ in his jaw and knocking him out and unconscious.

I can picture my dad and Weaver simultaneously throwing their fists up in the air in joy and disbelief. I can imagine Weaver dancing around the ring and my dad dancing around the hospital room. A new champ and a new Callahan!



Birth: A Father’s Perpective

This is the story of giving birth from a father’s harebrained outlook. I have two wonderful children, McKinley and Hudson. My wife, Katie, did 99.9% of the birthing work. Here is the story of child-rearing from my point of view:

Part I-The Pregnancy Stick (McKinley Edition)

Fathers have been going through the joy of finding out their significant others are pregnant since the beginning of the human race. Katie and I continued the time-honored exuberant tradition of finding out we were having a baby in late 2009.

The National Institute of Health states pregnancy tests started as early as 1350 B.C. The Ancient Egyptians urinated on wheat and barley seeds. If the wheat grew it meant there was a girl baby and if the barley grew they thought it was a boy. If neither grew, the Egyptians decided the woman wasn’t pregnant. Katie and I didn’t attempt the wheat and barley test.

In the Middle Ages, there were actually people known as piss-prophets that claimed they could diagnose different diseases and conditions like pregnancy by the color of a woman’s urine. If it was a “clear lemon color and cloudy on the surface,” they declared that you were pregnant. Katie and I did not use a piss-prophet.

During the 1920’s, doctors injected women’s urine into rats to test for pregnancy. If the woman wasn’t pregnant, there wouldn’t be a reaction by the rat. If she was pregnant, the rat would react like it was in heat. We didn’t inject Katie’s urine into any rats.

In the 1970’s, pregnancy tests first became available to be purchased and tried at home. The home pregnancy test allowed women to take the test in the privacy of their own residence, while taking an active role in their own health care. Katie and I went this route. In fact, Katie took several do-it-yourself pregnancy tests that winter of 2009.

Katie and I were married in October of 2008 and spent most of 2009 trying to get pregnant. There were ovulation calendars. There was rushing home because ovulation was at its highest rate. If Katie was having a Mittelschmerz, I knew I better get home to perform my duty. Ovulation felt more like matriculation to me as the year wore on.

Thanksgiving of 2009 had passed and Christmas was drawing closer and we had no luck so far. One day Katie called me home from work. We had tried some cheap, generic drug-store pregnancy tests in previous months, but they all came back with one negative line.

Katie rushed me into the bathroom of our old house in the Ardmore neighborhood of Winston-Salem. She spent the next three hours in that bathroom. Luckily, we had just renovated it from a very tiny bathroom to a much more spacious area, so she was more comfortable in her frenzied state of mind.

With shaky hands and tears in her eyes, Katie showed me the generic pregnancy stick. I looked at it, but I could only see one line. There was the possibility of a second line but it was very faint. Katie said, “No! There are definitely two lines there!” We went back and forth like this and then she took the other test in the box. It looked the same to me, and Katie now had her own doubts.

She sent me to get her a full glass of water and then to CVS to get another pregnancy test. While I was gone, Katie drank several glasses of water. I had no idea what box to get, so I ended up picking out one that showed pink for positive and blue for negative. I got home and Katie was ready to go. She went and tears swelled up her eyes when she saw the result. Unfortunately for me, I am color blind. I really could not tell if it was pink or blue.

After some more arguing about the color, I went back to the drug store. This time, I was too embarrassed to go back to CVS, so I went to Walgreen’s. I just started throwing different boxes into the basket. I am pretty sure there were boxes of all sorts including: First Response, Clearblue, E.P.T., UPS, DMX, KFC and many more.

When I got home, Katie tried them all. There was water chugging, peeing, water chugging, peeing, repeat. I am a bit of a germophobe, so having to repeatedly handle the pregnancy sticks made me a bit uncomfortable. Our bathroom sink counter was filled with tests of all different shapes and sizes. The good thing was they all showed two lines, or pink, or a plus sign and Katie was definitely pregnant.

That day Katie drank several gallons of water and either peed or cried it all out. We spent over a hundred dollars on pregnancy tests to prove that we would be having our first child. Less than nine months later, Katie gave birth to McKinley on August 22, 2010.

Next Edition: The Pregnancy Stick (Hudson Edition)