I have dug into my archives and dusted off this article I wrote for the National Childbirth Trust Magazine. It is very old! Molly is now almost 7 years old (I can bearly believe it) and a very different little person than described/shown here!
Two years and two months ago, my wife (and I) had a beautiful baby at The Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath. What an experience!
Being our first child Gayle (my wife) figured it might be a good idea to attend the NCT group meetings. I wasn’t quite so eager as it meant giving up some of my precious ‘chill out from work’ time and anyway, what if the other blokes are complete weirdo’s… at best they are likely to be more serious and adult than I. I still love my Hornby trains…! Would we get on…?
My wife and I had a brief discussion; she reminded me that when it comes to her pregnancy she is the boss so with no defence argument; we went. Once there, along with several other nervous looking mums-and-dads-to-be it was actually rather interesting and I learnt much about what happens. The guys were a mixed bunch but we were all up for a laugh and I soon relaxed.
Being somewhat of a wimp, I couldn’t watch the video of the water birth, however the ladies seemed fascinated and we all had a lively talk about why a midwife was holding a small goldfish net?!? As well as enjoying the comical aspects of the process together we all left the meetings feeling somewhat more prepared.
Having said that, nothing could prepare us for the actual reality of a grainy scan picture becoming an actual little person.
When the time came and labour ‘commenced’ I had 14 long hours trying to recall what I had learnt at the NCT course. ‘Long labours and how to keep bright and interesting’ did not feature as far as I recall. Thank goodness I thought to take my laptop with me! After watching a couple of my favourite DVD’s I thought I should really consider my wife’s entertainment needs and offered to put on “Aliens 2” but strangely she wasn’t in the mood so instead we sat and lay on the bed together watching ‘My Pictures’ roll past the screen in slide show mode. That for me was the best bit, seeing pictures of friends and family, thinking how the dynamics will change with a new addition. Being the 5thNovember we could just see fireworks out the window in the night sky. That is a memory that I will always cherish.
Being ‘supportive’ for such a long stint was hungry work. The hospital shop was closed but the garage opposite the hospital had a wealth of crisps to choose from so with a Lion Bar and a packet of cheesy Quavers in my pocket I returned.
As I re-entered the room it seemed like things were progressing at last. I tried to be ‘The Rock’ that I know Gayle wanted/needed me to be, yet I could only give reassuring nods and statements like “everything is fine, you’re doing really well.” In truth I had no idea how she was really doing, and as for fine…will she be fine, I don’t have a clue…. If the noise in the next birthing suite down the corridor is anything to go by then perhaps I should change my reassurance to “I am sure everything will be ok in the end, and I think you are doing well (so far…)” and then perhaps back up the statement with “no matter what happens – we’ll get through it” as it sort of covers all eventualities.
As I finished my Quavers and brushed the crumbs from my face the baby was born – Thank goodness… we’ve done it! I was knackered! (Oh and Gayle was too…!)
The midwife put the little thing under what looked like a mini hotplate briefly while the fingers and toes were counted. Fortunately everything was in order and Gayle was presented with the little bundle on her chest. We shared a moment – I didn’t really get ‘moved’ by much before then, but it was a great experience (apparently I shed a tear, but I think Gayle made that up as it is a preferred memory to the one of me eating Quavers).
Then it dawned on us – Boy or girl!?!?! – a girl, a gorgeous precious little baby girl. Obviously I wanted a boy, don’t all men…? However she was a real cutie and stole my heart immediately. Woooo there – hold up!!! What the hell was all that white stuff on her body…? Turned out to be some weird stuff called Vernix. Then she was passed to me… wow… so small, so beautiful. As the realisation that I now had a family crept up on me my little girl marked the occasion by delivering a gift on my forearm called Meconium. If you dont know what it is – ask someone. Lets just say it takes more than one wet wipe to remove. I hoped it didn’t symbolise her future behaviour toward me.
Gayle is now 7 months pregnant…. Does it get any easier with two….?