I’m finally a dad. It’s weird. It hasn’t really sunk in. I am writing this in a short period where I have the house to myself before I go to hospital and rejoin my wife and daughter who I reluctantly left this morning at 1am.
Having a baby is a roller coaster ride of emotion. First the excitement of being pregnant, then the paranoia that something will go wrong (3 previous early miscarriages in a row will do that to you), then excitement again as baby grows and is fine.
You attend NCT, you get prepared, you get told all about natural childbirth and the potential interventions available. If, like us, you are one of the last ones in your NCT group to give birth (we were originally joint second from last), you hear of birth after birth where the best laid birth plans were pretty much thrown out of the window due to complications. Babies born weeks early, babies born under induction, babies born under emergency caesarian. By the time it was our turn, not a single baby had been born ‘normally’. By this, I mean naturally entering labour, using pain relief and baby coming out with a vaginal birth.
Still, we were naturally hopeful. Our due date (26th July) came and went. Frustration slowly crept in, hand in hand with impatience and worry. Mutterings from the medical side of things about age and letting pregnancy go on too long. The word ‘stillbirth’ was mentioned as a concern if it goes on. That is just an awful word which hides an utter horror. Even thinking about it make me well up, which shows my still emotional state of mind.
We were reluctant to induce, but were booked in for 40+10. The couple who were sharing our due date gave birth on Monday (following a very long and complicated labour, with emergency caesarian).
My wife was pulling out all the stops, doing all the things you’re supposed to do to try and help labour get started- sex, curries, pineapple, raspberry tea. Maybe all four at the same time. Still, nothing. On Monday 3rd, she went for a Reflexology session which was designed to help get labour started.
Tuesday evening, we go to bed as normal, lot of Braxton-Hicks but no actual contractions. 3am Wednesday morning, that all changed! Excited but focused, we started to time the contractions, and to be honest, we had no real idea what we were looking for. Nevertheless, when they got regular (5 min intervals) and quite strong, we called the midwife. They asked some questions, and decided we were good to come in.
Car packed, and into Southmead Hospital for 0600. Come 0615, it turns out she was 6cm dilated, so in established labour.
I’m not going to go into the whole story here, but suffice to say, again, that the best laid plans usually go awry. She got to 8cm after 3 hours, and then had to go onto Pethidin as the pain was too much to handle. This had the effect of suppressing contractions, but 3 hours later, she was fully dilated. But, contractions weren’t strong enough, and our midwife had us transferred into the main unit from our water birth suite as she suspected the baby, although head down, was turned so the shoulder were aligned up/down and not left/right.
This was at about 1800. My wife had been utterly amazing. I’ve never been more impressed with anyone. Ever. I was in pain watching her. I was so stressed, I was almost in tears. This is a very new thing for me as I’ve never been in that kind of zone before. However, this was nothing compared to what she was going through, and my one job was to be her rock. So, suck it up I did.
At 1840, after consulting and painful contractions, it was confirmed our daughter was misaligned. It was time for theatre. My wife was given an Spinal Epidural (something we never wanted in the idealistic early days of early pregnancy), and into theatre we went, in our scrubs and funny shoes.
I’ll save the graphic details, but damn she didn’t want to come out. However, the surgical team were brilliant and our gorgeous daughter was born at 1933, weighing 8lb exactly.
I take my hat off to everyone involved in her birth, not least to my wife who was brilliant throughout. The care we were given at Southmead was utterly superb, and we are truly blessed to have an organisation like the NHS. I can only imagine what would have happened to us if we lived somewhere with no such place.
I left them in the post-natal ward at 1am last night, as they sort of discouraged birth partners from staying, although they didn’t say it in so many words. I’m about to leave now to go back to the hospital and see my two favourite girls.