Our journey to the hospital was uneventful. It was late at night and there was very little traffic. I would like you to remember, ‘late at night’ as it will become relevant later. I mentioned in the previous post that it was a Sunday evening. This will also become relevant.
We arrived outside the maternity department at the hospital and rushed inside, although rushed is a relative term when you are with your pregnant wife, who is experiencing pain which, if I hadn’t known better, I would have thought was being caused by Daleks. It felt like rushing though. Time seemed speeded up, like we were moving faster than I could think. Without really noticing anything, except the passing resemblance of the decor to that in ‘Goodbye Lenin’ of course, we were at the counter waiting to be let in to the labour ward. And waiting is what we did, a lot of it. I have mentioned that it was late at night haven’t I? Also that it was a Sunday? Yes, good, because that’s all I can think to explain the delay. All through the pregnancy the help and support from the midwife and other nurses that we saw had been fantastic, and during and after the birth it was wonderful, they were there for us and were informative and comforting and just superlative in every way. But that night, at that time, when it seemed like the world was ending for my wife and my hand was getting crushed, there was noone. Which was particularly hard to take as the waiting room lights were turned off, so we were sat in darkness whilst my wife’s contractions got quicker and fiercer. I had rung the bell when we got there, and at various intervals during our wait but it seemed as though there was noone else in the entire hospital, or at least within hearing distance.
We were sat in that room for a long time before I decided I would have to take matters into my own hands. Ordinarily I am a very laid-back person. Ordinarily, not only would I not say boo to a goose, I would actively avoid going near the goose in case my very presence startled it. I am naturally withdrawn and introverted and do not put myself forward in any situation really. But that night, at that time, something snapped, I think it was the chair leg my wife was holding on to, and I thought now was the time to step up. I had tried to rouse someone already, but as with most hospitals there was a key code on the door to stop people getting in, so, to prevent further furniture breakage, I went and stood with my finger on the bell for minutes, with it continuously ringing the other side of the door. Dramatic I know, I believe the next James Bond movie will feature me in a cameo.
The bell trick didn’t work, we were still stranded, on the other side of the door to both people and light. The hours were rushing by, civilisation was just the other side of the door, but all we had was darkness and pain. But then, a light. Someone walked through the door. It was obviously not in response to the bell ringing, they were just on their way somewhere else, and walked through seemingly oblivious to us, but it was the opening we needed. I bounded to the door to stop it from closing on us again whilst my wife struggled her way through. This also took many minutes, with me standing holding the door and trying to attract someone’s attention. My wife got to the door and I got our bags and we were in and from that moment everything seemed to go like clockwork.
It was from this moment though that my inadequacy for my role as a father became obvious to all. The birth was going swimmingly, from my point of view, (my wife would like me to mention that things were not so comfortable from her end). The midwife kept saying encouraging things, and I’m sure my wife’s must have been a relatively straightforward labour as the midwife kept disappearing to help someone. It was all fine anyway until the actual moment of birth. This came on me suddenly and I was unprepared for what happened next. I was presented with something that was of a very distinct, inhuman, hue, whilst a voice, from what sounded like a different hospital, said that we had a girl. I'm sure it was the emotion of the moment, at least that's the story I have constructed to comfort myself with, but I couldn't for the life of me see that this bundle, which, I would like to emphasise, was no colour I had ever seen before, was actually a person, let alone what sex it was. None of the pictures in any of the, admittedly small number, of books I had perused had depicted this as being what she would look like at her point of arrival. It must have been some journey. She soon began to unfurl though, somewhat like the sail of a ship catching the wind, and my momentary panic at possibly having been present at the first human/mole birth subsided, my confusion, however, was a definite sign of things to come.
It was no longer late at night, but it was the middle of winter so it may as well have been. All was dark and the snow was softly falling when my daughter was born at 5:18am and since that time I have grown more accustomed to being a father, even if sometimes I look back and wonder whether a mole might have been easier.