Kia ora! I seem to be on a ‘guest post’ roll at the moment! Here is the second-to-last (I think) guest post for you guys! This one comes all the way from England and, as you can see, it’s a bit of a novel 😉 I’ve read it several times, so I can tell you that it’s a good one! I’ve never thought of what pregnancy and labour would be like from a man’s perspective, so this post has been eye opening
and a bit traumatising!
Hello. P here, from RamblingsfromMeMyselfandi. I’ve been following Kendel’s fantastic blog for a few months and really enjoy reading what goes on. I reminds me a good weekend radio show! Lots of different, interesting things going on, very refreshing and insightful and very entertaining! When I saw the blog ‘CALLING ALL BLOGGERS‘, I debated weather or not to answer Kendel’s call. I’m a late thirty’s Englishman, whereas many of Kendel’s readers, I assumed to be late teen, early twenties girls who probably wouldn’t be interested, however, I thought bollocks to it. So I emailed Kendel, offering my services. Being the lovely, kind lady she is, she accepted my offer! Since then we’ve been emailing away and become friends. Should she find herself in England (God save the Queen!) I’ll happily buy her a beer or two and show her the sights and sounds of England’s best city, Manchester!
So, what am I going to ramble on about today? I’ve thought long and hard about what to write down. Candidly, I’m personally going through so very difficult life changing events. I’m currently in the process of leaving my wife. I’m not going to write about that as that is still on going, raw and very emotional. I’m a Englishman, we don’t do emotion. That’s something girls and the French do, emotion, not Englishmen. I’m going to write about a subject that was life changing for me, that didn’t go the way it was planned, and from a prospective you don’t hear from very often. This is my story of the birth of my son, FDJ.
So, the bump was due to arrive on Monday February 18th 2013. About 6 weeks before, I found out we had the business leadership team in the office, I was expected to present to the CEO and his direct reports on my function, starting that week. I started talking to the bump, listen to your Daddy, wait in there until Friday 22nd, ideally after lunch, so he can get this week out-of-the-way. Everyday, I gave the bump a gentle poke and told it ‘not before the 22nd, listen to your Daddy!’.
During the pregnancy, I’ve read up about pregnancy. I read this book, Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy For Dummies. The geek in me wanted to know everything, especially the labour as this is the most dangerous for both Mother and Baby. All the scenarios of what can go wrong, what to do to help, how to be prepared. The book was excellent, full of information I wanted to find out. We attended antenatal classes with the NCT, National Childbirth Trust, which certainly helped. I was feeling prepared and ready for any situation.
In the office on Monday morning, the CEO saw me and came over. I hear your wife is due today, we’ve got a (betting) book going on what day and time the baby is going to arrive!! Thanks boss! I told him about me talking to the bump and warning not to arrive until Friday lunchtime at the earliest! He laughed and thought that was great. He told me that when I get the call to drop everything and go. Even if it’s in the middle of presenting my pitch to the leadership team. His view was that his is a special moment not to be missed. I thought that was very nice and reassuring. The week passed off quite well. The bump was told every night!! It seemed to be listening, the wife was having no stirrings at all. Marvellous. Go to work on Friday, feeling happy with the world. Meetings, presentations over, fantastic feedback, catching up with the team and emails. We go out for a team lunch at TGI Friday, Whole rack of ribs, nom nom nom, chips, ice cream and a gallon of Pepsi. Fantastic. Catching up with a few visitors in the office when the wife calls. ‘I think my waters have just broken. I’ve called the hospital, they’ve told me to come down’. This is just after 15.00 on Friday afternoon. The bump listened to it’s Daddy! Shut down laptop, tell the team it’s all starting, I’ll keep you informed over the weekend. Stroll out of the office quite calmly, jump in the car. I live about 5 miles, 8km’s from the office. I didn’t to it in a record time, but it wasn’t far off!!
I get home to find the wife ready to go. I get the labour bag, we’d prepared, got her in the car and off we went to the local maternity hospital. We ‘check-in’ and we put into a room and told the doctor and midwife would be along within 15 minutes. Any gentlemen reading this; When any medic professional says a time on how long they will be, at least add 60 minutes to the timescale. Every time a doctor / midwife / nurse spoke to us, they said, we’ll just be 5-10 minutes it turned into an hour! So it took about an hour before the mid-wife arrived, done some checks and then led us to a delivery suite. We were then duly told it’s shift change and I’m going now, the new midwife for the night shift will be along shortly. With that she left the room!
About 20 minutes later the new midwife arrived. She was much friendlier, pleasant and more professional. She asked us if been through various things and when the last check was. No to the various things and the last check was at 17.00, considering this is now about 20.30, the midwife wasn’t particularly pleased. The midwife done her checks, talked us through the range of pain killers available and warned us that the maternity ward is short-staffed this evening. Usually there should be 1 midwife per expectant mother, tonight it was 2 expectant mothers per midwife. She also commented that the labour hadn’t progressed as fast as expected, so she’ll help speed things along and add a hormone drug into the drip. OK, that seemed reasonable and all the other checks were fine. The midwife had to pop off and check on the other mother. I have to say, labour is boring. Very boring. We’d been in hospital now for nearly 6 hours. You don’t get any food or drink, luckily in the labour bag, we’d added a small ‘labour survival food and drink’, which proved to be very useful including several litres of water, chocolate and cereal bars.
At 22.00 the midwife came back for routine checks. She declared that the labour wasn’t progressing fast enough, so recommended hormones to help speed the labour up. At the same time the midwife decided to set-up the pain relief. The gas and air were made available when required then we were left on our own. The labour was coming along slowly but surely. The wife was OK and not in pain. We continued to chat and listen to other ladies in labour screaming!! It turned just after 23.00, and the midwife popped back in. The labour has started to progress nicely and it’s time to put the heart rate monitor on the baby. This is routine procedure to ensure the baby doesn’t get distressed. As I’d read about it in the book, I was quite relaxed by it all. The heart rate monitor was attached, the heart was where it should be, everything was going fine. The midwife said we’d not be getting much sleep tonight as it was likely to be a long labour. Supplies in the labour bag were doing fine. The chairs in labour room seemed to be acquired from an early 1980’s school, thus very uncomfortable. It was more comfortable to sit on the floor! As the iPhone had been used heavily, it was time for a charge. Got that sorted and kept a close eye on the baby’s heart rate monitor. The Wife started to be in much more pain, I told her to start using the gas and air. She disagreed. I told her not to be a hero and use it. She still refused. I told her to stop complaining about the pain!! At about 00.50, the baby’s heart rate started to fall, from about 160 bpm down to 120 bpm then raised up again. I thought nothing of it, the heart rate machine alarm didn’t go off, the wife was doing fine and it had increased back to where it has been before. The wife hadn’t noticed, so I didn’t say anything in case it worried her. However, I started to keep a much closer eye on the machine and any change in heart rate got my full attention.
It was just after 01.15 when the baby’s heart rate suddenly fell down to 50 bpm. Considering it had been around 160-180bpm where it should be, this was a worry. I asked the wife if she was feeling alright. She said yes, why? I replied the baby’s heart rate has fallen low, but as I said that the heart rate started to recover. Now I just looked at the monitor. My gut feelings weren’t good, I suddenly was very alert and on edge. In less than five minutes, the baby’s heart rate plummeted again, this time as low as 30 bpm. The midwife hadn’t been in since just after midnight, I was hoping that she would come back in sharpish. She hadn’t. Now the wife was starting to be in much more pain. I pressed the yellow alarm button. Now is not the time to dither and not make a decision. The baby’s heart rate has started to recover and just got over 100 bpm. The midwife came rushing in asking what was wrong. I calmly explained what had happened in the last 5 minutes with the baby’s heart rate, then whilst I was looking at the monitor, the heart rate fell quickly once more. The midwife’s face lost all colour. The wife was starting to shout in pain. The midwife looked at me, I asked her what is the plan? This is serious, I’m going to press the red emergency button, expect the whole of the maternity team to descend on the room. The alarm went off. It was a proper emergency alarm, red light flashing, very loud noise and within 10 seconds the consultant and his team came running in. The midwife explain what had happened. The consultant asked me how low did the baby’s heart rate go and how quickly did it recover? I explained the first time it dropped to about 50 bpm, then recovered quickly, the second time it dropped to 30 bpm and recovered much slower, then when it got to about 110 bpm, it dropped again and that’s when the Midwife called you in. The consultant nodded, thanked me and declared the baby is in trouble and stressed, hence the heart rate fall. Just as he was explaining to me what the plan was, the Wife bellowed out ‘it’s killing me’. The baby’s heart rate had fallen to just under 20 bpm, the Consultant declared we need to get the baby out now, prepare for emergency cesarean. About 10 of the 23 people in the room, yes I did count, ran of to prepare for the surgery. The Wife has to sign consent forms. Ridiculous as she wasn’t on this planet. Two minutes later she was wheeled off to surgery.
Now the room was empty and silent. I’d been left there, not knowing what was going on. Was my Wife OK, was the baby OK? I’d no idea. I guessed that we wouldn’t be coming back to this room, so I started packing everything up. I glanced at my watch, it was just after 01.30. A nurse came into the room and asked me if I was alright! Yeah, I replied, what’s going on now, where do I need to be? She said she didn’t know, but the surgery would take at least 30 minutes and that I should be on the recovery ward for when they come out. Finish packing your things and I’ll be back in 5 minutes to take you there. I got the bag packed, grabbed a bottle of Pepsi and drank most of it in one sitting. The nurse appeared, asking if I was ready? Yep, let’s go. I ask her if she know’s anything. Oh yes dear, you’re now a father of a little boy and your wife will be in theatre for at least another 90 minutes as there were complications with the surgery, but nothing to worry about. So now I’m in a small ward, with no one else in there, but at least the seats are more comfortable. I started wondering what was going on, how are both doing and feeling a little uncomfortable not knowing what is going on. Within about 10 seconds of having those thoughts, the midwife appeared with a huge grin over her face. I looked at her puzzled, then saw she has something in her arms. It was our baby!!
She handed him over to me. I cradled him in my arms and held him tight and close. He was just wearing a nappy, wrapped up in a blanket and wearing a hat, looking incredibly cute, adorable and had an unamused look of ‘what am I doing out here’! The midwife explained that the baby crash team had been on standby for the birth after the fall in heart rate. The Consultant and his team decided that getting the baby out was the priority and went in ‘Rambo’ style. ‘Rambo’ style is where the surgeon get the knife and goes in deep to make the cut instead of layer by layer. They were incredibly concerned with the heart rate dropping and were not sure if the baby was going to make it. When he came out, he was pink, looked at the midwife then let out a loud scream! The baby crash team check him out and the new born score after 1 minute and 5 minutes was 10/10. There was nothing wrong with him, take him to his Daddy! The wife was not is such a good way. There was vast amounts of meconium in the womb and the baby hadn’t turned, so there was no chance of a normal birth. The wife needed to be cleaned, checked and stitched back together, she’ll be at least an another hour before she comes out. She’s going to be fine, so don’t worry. With that she disappeared off.
I was left there holding the boy, wrapped in my arms. I was 02.05 and he was born at 01.48. Less than 20 minutes old and with me. I held him close to my chest and he found my left hand little finger and held on to that tightly. I could of melted there and then. I have never felt so protective over something before. There he was listening to my heartbeat, holding my little finger, sleeping looking quite contented. He let out a little squeak, moved his shoulders as if to get comfy and then settled down. I gave him his first kiss to his forehead, told him I love him, I’ll always be there for him, protect him and never forget this moment. I’ve never been one to cry or the emotional type, but I was bursting with pride and love, I didn’t cry, not even a cheeky tear. I felt very happy and incredibly protective of this little bundle. A midwife popped into the ward and apparently I have her a look of ‘take one step further and I’ll rip your head off’. Yep, I was looking fierce and protective. The midwife team like to look at the fathers and see what type they are. I’m a ‘Viking’ father. Proud, protective, fierce looking and if anyone tried to take away the baby from my arms. they’d have to kill me first. I’d agree with that.
For over an hour I didn’t move just looked at the boy. My arms, shoulders and back were aching like mad, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to put my son down. I wanted just to hold him, protect him and cuddle him. Just after 03.30, the wife was wheeled out. She was still coming around from the anesthetic and was given large amounts of morphine to help with the pain relief. I told her that we’d had a little boy then I handed him over to her She cuddled him for a few minutes, but the pain and general numbness from the morphine meant that she didn’t feel comfortable with him, so handed him back to me. I had just enough time to text both sets of parents and add an update to Facebook. The boy then reassumed position, his ear on my heart, holding my little finger on the left hand. After the wife had some checks completed, we were moved to the postnatal ward. I was starting to feel tired, I looked at my watch, it was 06.00 already. We got settled into the room and I put the boy in the cot at the end of the bed. Gave the wife a kiss and a hug, told her I was very proud of her. She fell asleep, the boy was asleep I stayed awake watching the two of them. Making sure they were safe, warm and having a good sleep. At about 7.30, the wife woke up, I got her some tea, the British way in times of distress, crisis and trauma is to drink strong hot tea, and breakfast. The boy was still asleep and looking very cute! It was time for me to pop home and get various things, a quick sleep, shower and breakfast. I gave both of them a kiss and left them, both asleep.
So that’s my story of the birth of my son. There was further issues in the three days with the staff, breast feeding Natzi’s and general rubbishness of the British National Health Service, but that’s for another day. I can still remember the whole 24 hours of the boy being born and the day’s afterwards.
Given my situation where I have split up with the wife and now living in my own place, on new year’s eve, the boy stayed with me and Miss B at our new apartment for the first time. He woke up about an hour after falling asleep howling. I put his ear to my heart, lied down on his new bed with him, within 20 seconds he’d stopped howling and crying. 30 seconds later, his arm cuddled my shoulders, and 2 minutes later he was asleep. I lied there are about 20 minute with him, listening to him sleep until I knew he was in a deep sleep. I gently lifted him and put him on the bed. He resumed the usual Boy sleeping position, and woke up at 09.00 on new years day when I went into his room and got a huge smile and hug from him. We certainly do have a very special bond which I think will never be broken. I’m his Daddy and will be no matter what.
Tune of the day – Bon Jovi – In These Arms