The other side of the birth story.
I thought the idea of sharing a dads birth story would be a nice way to open my contributions to Father Inc. I am all for us dads being as big a part of the experience of parenthood as we possibly can. It goes without saying that our contribution to the story of our minis starts way earlier than in the delivery suite but for me this was the moment that it all became reality.
Sure Alice was pregnant for 9 months and for 8 of those months we were very aware of what was going to happen, well maybe we were in fact clueless to how our world would turn upside down but it wasn’t until Alice met me in South park Gardens off the train that she told me “Greg don’t panic but my contractions have started. I am in labour!” Don’t panic? At this point I wondered if Alice actually knew me at all, saying don’t panic is like asking the sun not to shine or the birds not to sing.
I had my phone out ready to call everyone including a quick call to 999 to let them know it was happening but Alice being Alice calmly walked us back to the house where we sat and had a nice cup of tea.
The reality of what happened over the next 14 hours is all a bit of a blur until we actually got to the practical end of things. Melanie my mother-in-law came to the house and wanted to help as much as she could. I remember Alice bouncing on a swiss ball up and down up and down whilst we watched 8 out of 10 cats to take our mind off the pain, this did not work, do not attempt this at home…..you will risk divorce. Thinking back on it I was about as much use as a chocolate teapot to Alice during these hours, I tried to help take her mind off the pain, I tried to make the time pass quickly. We had two trips to the hospital and were sent home both times.
What I did manage to do was keep Alice away from the drugs and that’s what she wanted so I think I must have been supportive enough in a way to help her get this far, although she is a damn strong woman so perhaps I am just taking credit away from her.
At 4am we arrived at St Georges for the third time and the pain had intensified again for Alice but she was still only 4cm dilated. Alice insisted on being seen again for an examination only 30minutes after her first. We were 100% poo-pooed that nothing could have changed that quickly but Alice and I really pushed and thank god we did as E was ready to come there and then. Quick bit of advice here, the mums know their bodies and when they say that something has changed it really doesn’t hurt to insist on another exam or test or whatever it may be at the time.
We were taken straight into a room on the labour suite (although ‘suite’ is probably the wrong terminology) we had no time to wait for the birthing pool and any of the best laid plans that we had in front of us. I think the birth plan is really there to give you the idea that you can exercise some kind of control over something that is taken out of your hands and firmly placed into that of mother nature, its almost a placebo for the lack of control you have in the whole thing.
So in the room we are met by an Italian nurse called Angel, thats right Angel, he warmed up my hands in water dried them off and gave me advice on how to massage Alice properly, in the 15 minutes or so that I did this I had felt the most use in about 3months. There are only so many baths you can run, cups of tea you can make and sympathetic words you can say before you rapidly start to feel like a third wheel – this was it I was actually helping. We are still afraid to ask if an Italian male nurse called Angel works on the ward as he was such a calming influence on us that we both think that he may have been sent from heaven above to help 🙂
Its now about 8am and I know that it sounds like I miss out huge tranches of what happens but in retrospect it all happens so fast and is so intense that all of us in the room remember it differently or in a different order and my version of events is probably an amalgamation of how Alice, Melanie and I remember it between us.
So where was I? 8am, this is when we were told it was time to push, we had now lost Angel and gained two wonderful midwives, one a trainee and her boss. The next 24 minutes was some of the hardest I have ever gone through. To see the pain yet determination that Alice went through gives you a new level of respect for the mother of you children and when E arrived to see that change of emotion from strong to absolute love and softness is like nothing else.
The immediate love that you feel, the waves of emotion. I, like the stupid bloke that I am, did the British stiff upper lip and held back the tears; I wish I hadn’t but the emotion is so strong that I think if I had cried I wouldn’t have been able to stop.
So at 8.24 E joined us in the world at 7lbs 13oz, again the next few hours whizzed by. At 1pm we left the hospital, my mum drove us home. We sat in our lounge with Etta for the first time and the hours days and weeks have been whizzing by ever since.