At 1:08am Sunday 8th June 2014 my life changed forever. A new chapter had started. In a special two-parter, I’ll reflect on an eventful three weeks.
(Note: Some of the times given may vary slightly from reality – some of it was a bit of a blur!)
Saturday 12pm, Lister Hospital, Dacre Ward
“We’ll just give it another thirty minutes.”
After hours of waiting and monitoring, induction has begun. I had no idea of the process until now and perhaps that was a good thing. It’s like someone has lit a stick of dynamite that has an unknown length of fuse – you know big things are gonna happen but you just don’t know when. A certain Will Smith song springs to mind. Sharing this analogy with Shell is not likely to be a good idea, though.
Uncomfortable. Shell owns the word. I can barely read my Stuff magazine for all the shuffling.
“Well maybe they are contractions.”
This is not like the movies at all. The ongoing discomfort has gradually slid into regular pulses of increasing discomfort which we’ve only just recognised as the start of contractions. Deploy the TENS machine!
“I feel kinda bad eating my pasta next to you whilst you’re going through this.”
I really do, but seeing as I’m about as useful to her at the moment as a visit from Nigel Farage, there’s not much else I can do and watch her hit that boost button every few minutes as I scoff my dinner.
That magical, wonderful measurement. I love you. This means it’s game time: we’re going down to the delivery room and not forced to have more hours up here in limbo.
[insert unworldly cry emanating from the creature formerly known as my wife]
Holy shit. I’m hearing sounds that I would previously only equate to the coming of the apocalypse. The gas and air are spacing her out in between contractions, but in between, I fear for my life and for the existence of this world.
I am also curious to see what’s happening at the business end, but have been previously warned by mates that any attempt to take a peek may put me off certain fun activities in that region for life, so I stay near the noisy end as the lesser of two evils.
“Get me an epidural!”
Ok, I’ve trained for this moment. An epidural was always the last resort, and we’re not there yet. I’m in control, I can handle this situation. I suggest the morphine route, as planned. Shell looks at me with pain and desperation that makes me feel like I’ve just suggested biting down on a small stick. She wants the hard stuff, and wants it now. The midwife has said that she can’t push yet, as she’s not ready. After several tentative attempts at trying to persuade her to go for an interim stage, we agree to go for the epidural.
Well knock me sideways with a sledgehammer – in the time it took to start the prep, Shell has only gone to the next stage and has the green light to push. Too late for an epidural – we’re in to the final stage.
“Channel the effort downwards, not out of your mouth.”
The first push once again invoked the cry of the banshee, but then something magical happened. Following the midwife’s instructions to focus her energy, Shell channels everything into the push. It’s like someone flipped a switch. No screaming, no noise, not even a hand crush. Every bit of energy she has left is being directed to the main cause. Shell is like a new woman. She might just return to me unpossessed at the end of this.
“You have a very efficient uterus, Michelle!”
As praises go, that must be a first for her. Things are ticking along nicely. My role is reduced to saying how well Shell is doing (frequently), providing the gas and air when needed (a lot) and supplying her with drink (Lucozade by the litre).
“Ok, here’s the head!”
I’m in awe. I can’t quite see anything from where I am, but just to know that my child is about to arrive in the world is just amazing. I wonder how long now? Surely still a way to go?
OMFG! The baby has just slid out! It’s here! The movie clip that will never be erased from my mind has just occurred as a messy bundle of life has virtually skidded out of my wife. Sure, the bloody scene that now confronts me looks like a Disney film directed by Quentin Tarantino, but I don’t care.
“Ok – let’s just put him on your chest, Michelle”
They wipe the baby down as best they can. No crying, not the baby, not Michelle, not even me. We’re in shock. “He’s all good. Are you going to cut his cord?”
Suddenly I process what the midwife said. “So it’s a boy?” Do I have a son?
“Actually, I don’t know! I didn’t check.”
The transfer from bed to her chest was done so quickly no-one’s even looked at the sex yet. She holds the baby up and in the initial confusion of blood and cord I think it is a boy…but I’m wrong! Of course I’m wrong…it’s a girl!
We have a daughter.
Amber Lucy Helen Males has been born.
I am a dad.