A pre warning, this post is a long one.. Much like the birth of our first born!!
As I prepare for my second go at this I start to recall the emotional rollercoaster that is being the birth partner to someone, not hypothetically, not a NCT class practise run but actually being right there when they are giving birth. Also known as the most useless person in living history..
So gentleman (and Ladies but you’ll excuse me if I address them solely in this but I don’t want to underplay or even try and comprehend what you go through in labour, I am just trying to prepare your birth partners on what to expect), You’ve been through maybe some highs and lows and now we are at the main event. The hospital bag has been packed for ages now and in most people’s cases this is the part of the pregnancy that drags the most however we all know that inevitably the baby has to come out and bang we are called into action.
We are all sat with our phones glued to us when away from our partners awaiting ‘that call’, coincidentally for me right now I get that panic of the call several times a day as my toddler knows how to call me so I leave my meetings to answer only to hear a giggling child saying “Daddy, Daddy” over and over, on alcohol and travel bans in case the baby decides to come before the so called due date (in my case this has felt like since 36 weeks) and as a first time parent no matter what we read in the books or get told in classes, we still revert to the ‘Oh God, we are going ton have the baby in the taxi on the way there’ logic when in fact in most cases you could be in Australia and fly back in the time it takes for that baby to come..
So my view of this momentous life changing event of course followed those exact steps, I am awoken around 2am at 38+6 weeks having not been asleep long by my partner who is calmer than she has been in ages casually telling me that her waters have broken and that she wants to do her hair before going to the hospital.. cue movie logic and I am tearing the house apart looking for the Triage phone number to ask what to do, the book that I had read on child birth only that week completely forgotten and as I am talking I am so nervous I can’t talk properly. The advice was to come in, my thoughts on that was right we are going to go in and in about an hour or so we will have our daughter.. WRONG, we spent more time in the cab. They checked to ensure that she was in Labour (not as grim a check as i predicted) and we were sent on our way and told to come back when contractions were x minutes apart or not there by 9am the following day, not the outcome I had predicted at all..
So we go to sleep and the next morning I can see the change in her, I can see the pain she is in very clearly and then it dawned on me that I can actually offer no real relief from this pain, and this pain is not even hospital admittance worthy!! In my head I am thinking of all the supportive phrases to say and ways to make her comfortable, the book actually starting to come back to me, but what do I do in reality.. I stick the new Game Of Thrones Episode on for us to watch and have it up louder than usual so I can hear it over the moans, that right there is a Dads and Don’ts lesson people, normality for us was not the answer..
Eventually the timings of contractions (and the pain) had reached hospital admittance levels and off we went, not dilated enough yet but given our own room to get us on the way. To explain briefly in case any of you come across similar, my partner was having full labour contractions but her dilation wasn’t matching this so she was getting all of the pain and none of the gain, not eligible for any drugs at this stage but having the contractions of full labour. This was where I saw the real shortages in NHS staffing, not that I ever thought that we were in any danger, overall the care was beyond extraordinary however in the beginning there just wasn’t enough people around of the right level to actually make a decision at night. My advice here as a birth partner is to be strong and firm with the doctors/nurses/midwives whoever is providing the care, never rude but the person you care about most in the world needs you more than ever right there and its about one of the only things you can actually contribute in this scenario,. This is a learn I will take into birth number 2 as I was far too accepting last time until my partner growled “get that prick wearing the fucking crocs to get me the drugs now”..
Now a key Dads and Don’ts message here people, as the birth partner, unless they are sleeping then don’t even think about trying to sleep.. I found this out the hard way when attempting a quick bit of shut eye laying on the floor against a birthing ball only to be rudely woken by being kicked to get up and being called all sorts of profanities, All much deserved I must add..
The next day came and first thing a more senior midwife came in and knew exactly what to do and sorted us out to the delivery suite.. The delivery suite again a quite nice private room with your own midwife. After the pain already endured with no reward Lily opted for an epidural which I am so happy even exists in the world, anything at all that stops pain to them you should cherish and never question. Now however we were only at the start of the so-called normal labour journey although by now 34 hours in and the waiting is torture, the epidural worked a treat in calming Lily but you are sharing this moment with a stranger, what do you do, do they want idle small talk (ours didn’t I tried but their job is to listen for irregularities in the heartbeat machine which is constantly on, amazing skill to concentrate so well in these situations) so i was forced to pace the room trying not to think of every worse scenario going for another 9 hours..
Eventually after many attempts at pushing to no avail a swarm of doctors and midwives enter the room and start talking at us far too fast to comprehend and they are talking to us separately so I can’t be sure what they are telling her and she’s signing something and all of a sudden we are off to theater and i am being given scrubs to wear that trust me are huge, none of your own clothes allowed to be worn underneath and I am following the now moving hospital bed in blind panic whilst also trying to stop the worlds biggest trousers from falling down and exposing myself.
it turned out that Dahlia was back to back and that was what most of the fuss was all about and knowing her now with all of her stubbornness and being a mixture of myself and my partner of course she was back to back and refusing to turn around (Trust me read up on all of the complicated birth types and you will feel prepared for anything). Lily now pumped full of drugs and me feeling utterly useless and the worst possible thoughts on a loop in my brain I am an emotional crying mess scared half to death when suddenly my world changes and via Ventouse my beautiful full head of hair daughter arrives and I am being asked to cut the cord, now if you had seen the wreck that I was you wouldn’t even have offered me to do it, I think I said a mumbled no or one proper look at my face gave it away and they sorted it and I was lucky enough to be the first person to see my temporarily cone headed baby Dahlia and was able to take her over to Lily and there that was it, life was at its very best, I felt I had a purpose like I have never felt before and Lily became the most amazing Mother instantly just as I knew she would and proved to me how much stronger she is in ever way. It meant that all 47 hours of it had been worth it ( I can say that as she is about to do it all again so it must be lol)
Now to reflect on what I have learnt to better prepare me for this time around..
Do whatever she says and get her whatever she wants
Don’t accept no for an answer unless they can explain to you both how it could harm the baby (Morphine was used in great quantities during this birth story so if that’s ok..)
Do read up on the stages of labour and be prepared for the long game with your hospital bag and how to make your partner comfortable
Don’t forget about all this when in actual labour
Do have things at home to create some comfort such as a good supply of candles, Epsom Bath salts etc
Don’t ever, don’t even think about sleeping
Do read up on birth complications and what they mean so you aren’t overloaded with information in a fragile state (particularly Back to Back, Emergency C Section, Strep B and Pre eclampsia)
And lastly.. Don’t try and be funny before the drugs
If you would like to add any Don’ts advice from your own experiences then please comment below or email me them and don’t forget to follow me and check out my Instagram for more views of my day to day life @dads_and_donts