Friday, 18 May 2012

A Labour of Love

I was not prepared for our daughter to be born. Judged against any meaningful metric I was woefully underdone when the time came. My understanding of how a baby worked was basically founded upon knowing how I worked and just shrinking things. Just little people right? Well, not so much. My grasp of exactly how hard she would be was also limited by this. I knew that she wouldn't necessarily go to sleep when I wanted her to, but to not go to sleep at all was, I thought, a bit much.

However, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.  First we had to get through the birth itself.  My preparation for this was no more adequate than for anything that came after.  It was a Sunday evening when my wife went into labour.  We were just settling down to beef burgers when my wife started to experience a pain.  I didn’t think that beef burgers were known to cause such a violent reaction, and mine seemed to be fine, but the pains continued and it became obvious that the burgers weren’t the prime cause.  As this was a couple of days after the due date it should have been obvious that perhaps something fairly momentous was coming, but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time, it was, after all, tea time.  My wife was much more on the ball however and reacted immediately.  She started to time the length of the pain and the distance between them.  This startled me into action and I industriously asked if there was anything I could do.  It turned out there was, so I sprang into action and ran a bath. It seemed to me like there were other priorities, like getting to the hospital, but my wife was in labour, I was ready to do whatever she asked.

It turned out the bath was for easing the pain whilst I was on the phone to the hospital detailing contraction times.  This was tricky for me, as the midwife seemed to be asking for different information from what I had to give her, but eventually we sorted out the muddle and it transpired that we weren’t quite ready to go yet, my wife had to spend a little more time in the bath.  This was a precarious time for me.  There was nothing I could actually do to help, besides putting the bag ready to go out and ringing for our prearranged lift.  Neither of these tasks seemed to be quite at the Herculean level of my wife’s, at least as far as I could judge from the noises coming from the bathroom, but I set to it determined to perform as well as I could. 

That didn’t take too long, and suddenly I was at a loose end.  I tried to help my wife, but most of my offers of aid were rebuffed by my increasingly pained wife.  My final role was to count minutes and seconds.  I found that it was best not to make a game of this.  My wife was not too impressed by my exultantly telling her that this was her Personal Best.  I quickly learned that this was not something which was to be made light of.  Finally the prescribed numbers came up and I was able to ring the hospital who grudgingly said that it was probably time for us to go in.  And then the time came and we were on our way.

It is impossible to describe to you how I felt at this point.  My heart was pounding, I was hot and cold at the same time and there was just a feeling that all this was happening not only to someone else, but somewhere and somewhen else as well.  And yet there we were.  The car was packed, my wife was helped in and the short journey to the hospital began.

That was obviously not the end, but we’ll pick up the story on Monday. 

See you all then.


  1. Aww, how sweet! I can imagine it is emotionally tricky for men seeing their partners in pain and not knowing what to expect.

    My own husband is a doctor who worked on a gynae ward. When I was in labour with our first child he went to pieces a bit when helping me count down from 10 for the pushing stage and was getting his numbers jumbled up! Helpful? No, not so much :-)

  2. I had 2 emergency c-sections: my poor husband had to sit outside on both occasions. During the prep for my first 9which was less emergency than the second was), an emergency alarm wen toff elsewhere ont h ward and everyone apart form the anaesthetist's assistant just ran out ot the operating theatre. My poor hubbie - sitting outside watching them all run out. He thought something had happened to me and no one thought to reassure him...

  3. Goodness, that sounds terrible. happily I didn't have to go through anything like that.