So Actually Mummy is collating Birth Stories at http://www.actuallymummy.co.uk/2011/11/15/share-your-birth-story-2/
It’s a linky so there’s still time to add yours! On Twitter last night she said she wouldn’t mind a Dad one which is good as I’d already written a longer version of the below for my local NCT magazine. However you will soon see on reading we’re far from the ideal NCT poster children despite being members…..
It’s important to set this story in context. Back in 2006 Boy was due. He ended up over two weeks late and so Mrs S was induced. Since it was November I spent the first two days of my paternity break, stuck up a tower block in Kemp Town watching the wind destroy the Marina and listening to the registrars give diagnoses to the other women in Maternity Level 12. We had tried everything in those overdue 2 weeks to get him out, though perhaps overdosing on spicy food had been a mistake. As one of my football mates helpfully pointed out “he’s getting Chicken Tikka Rogan every night, he’s not going to willingly swap that for breast milk”.
Fast forward to 2010 and our delight at Mrs S being pregnant again was tempered by some minor complications. The pregnancy became highly medical with Mrs S having to attend a clinic every two weeks. The Doctors also insisted that she should be induced on her due date. Since this was in the autumn we once again faced the prospect of being up a Tower Block in autumn watching the wind and listening to more diagnoses.
One thing that we knew we would need from first time around was a plan in case Baby was premature. Since I was working in Surrey and had taken 3 weeks off post birth this involved me training a colleague while monitoring a mobile phone. One morning, not long in to the training, I had just settled in to my desk, taken one bite from a bacon sarnie and was about to start on a leisurely day explaining things when I got a text that just said ‘get home now’. The well brought up amongst you will notice the lack of a ‘please’. The female amongst you will notice the urgency. And if you’re male and reading that and you’re not already shuddering well done. Sarnie down, vague instruction to colleague to ‘just show her stuff’, run to station, jump on train, run at Redhill for connection, run and jump at Gatwick for connection and brisk jog from the station meant I made it door to door from Reigate to Portslade, in an hour. To find out Mrs S had a stomach bug. Another mental note made to cross Chicken Tikka Rogan off the menu this time round.
And so it was to no one’s great surprise when the induction date rolled round and Baby was still rolling round inside the wife’s tummy. Still there was one small change this time round. This time we got to wait in the delivery ward. Lucky us eh? So yes, we swapped 2 days of diagnosis for 2 days of other women’s labour noises. The noises. Christ the noises. This was a 2 day practical refresher on bearing down and transition. I haven’t heard so much screaming and seen so many ashen faced men since the last time Julian Clary was drawn against Mike Tyson in the all-star charity wrestling. It was like a 48 hour episode of ‘One Born Every Minute’ only without the seeing the baby bit. Compared to that, the two days we had locked in a general ward in a storm with a Crystal Meth addict before Boy’s birth were a breeze.
The other thing I remembered from Boy’s birth is that for all the pre-Labour assurances Mrs S wanted that I would not abandon her, the first thing she did when the contractions kicked in was kick me out. She does not share pain well with others – worse if they happen to be midwives and husbands. Still she had let me back in eventually last time round. I was to discover later that this was only because she’d had an epidural but I digress.
The third day of induction dawned and the midwives decided that it was high time they stopped trying to break the waters and got the registrar to do it. ‘The Regi’ turned out to be a big, male, young, good looking if casuistic Central European who’d have got a bar fight out of me if he’d tried putting his hand inside my wife at any other time. But this was a hospital, my bravado was disappearing at the thought of a third days out of context labour noises and luckily ‘The Regi’ did the trick. Within an hour we were in a delivery suite, Baby was on her way and Mrs S was hiding from the midwife and me in the loo. She eventually came back in but ordered me immediately out and so Baby’s birth became, for me as easy as reading The Guardian. I sat directly outside the room and worked my way from Sport to Comment while my wife made noises I was now immune to. Except one. My darling feminine wife demanding that ‘a FUCKING epidural come NOW!’. What I could see however (and she couldn’t) is that the anaesthetist was going to be tied up all morning in an emergency C section. Baby was coming ‘au naturelle’ whether we liked it or not, a fact I was keeping hidden behind the Review section. When the anaesthetist finally came to offer his services Baby was nearly out and he was sent on his way by a now coping wife!
Mrs S did indeed do the whole thing with just a bit a gas and air. Baby, being a second baby arrived less than four hours after ‘The Regi’ did his stuff. I was graciously allowed back in as Baby was about to peep out (I believe it would have been called touching cloth had Mrs S had any on). Whereas Boy had arrived via vontousse and therefore turned up cone headed and with a look that said ‘what the FUCK just happened’ Baby popped out winking. It was the first time she stole my heart. It certainly won’t be the last.
If you think the above means I have a very negative opinion of the Royal Sussex County then while the Thomas Kemp Tower is a little dated, and while the fact there are only 2 tiny lifts up to 4 levels of maternity care is a joke, the staff are wonderful. The midwives who were with Mrs S looked after her so well, got Baby out safely for everyone and hardly batted an eyelid at the fact I’d been reading the paper for 4 hours. The after care was nothing less than excellent as well and I can’t properly express in words my gratitude for the staff, which, for me, is frankly unheard of.
What’s more the recovery time after the natural delivery for Mrs S and Baby was so much better than when she had the epidural with Boy and I know she got a real sense of achievement out of it at the end. I also know, however, that if the anaesthetist had been available she’d have taken the drugs in a heartbeat.
P.S. We had already named her before the birth as being scanned that many times kind of gives the sex away. One day when we discussed names with Boy he told us “I think the baby should be called ‘Concrete Mixer’”……