Labour (Part I)

A dad’s eye view of labour…

No, not that party of oversized children, out of their depth, spouting clichés… think more along the lines of one oversized child, out out of his depth, spouting clichés trying to support his wife whilst she delivered a baby.

What a completely crazy experience right?

After the antenatal class we had devised quite the birth plan, everything documented, almost a military operation. Mummy “The List” R had contributed to a substantial amount of global deforestation (sincere apologies to the Awa Tribe) given the number of lists she had written, revised and rewritten… her bag, the baby’s bag, daddy’s bag, the food bag… the overflow bag?!

I’m not sure about different locations in the UK, but in Medway, if you don’t have more kids than GCSE’s you’re almost frowned up. In fact, I think you even get special recognition if you happen to have the kids before you sit your GCSEs. So, the antenatal class involved me sitting in a room where I was possibly twice the age of some attendees who presumably had to get a letter from school to say they could attend.

My take aways from this weird scenario were as follows:

  • Mummy R would have a contraction…
  • We’d go for a picnic…
  • She’d have another contraction…
  • At some point the contractions would get closer together…
  • We’d casually make our way to hospital…
  • We would eat the plethora of snack (maybe even set up a small tuck shop given the amount we were taking)…
  • I’d mess about on the iPad while Mummy R walked around for a bit…
  • The baby would finally arrive…
  • We’d be glowing and get some nice photographs for the album.

My knowledge had been “supplemented” by being forced to watch a few episodes of One Born Every Minute (OBEM for the fans!) which was apparently “essential as this could be me” (Mummy R, sometime in 2014/5). Seeing some of the people on that show I think she may have been doing herself a slight disservice, how do they select the people for that programme?!

We had our briefing, we had our plan, we had our lists – lots of them! However, despite this excessive planning, we were not naive and knew that even the most competent control freaks cannot legislate for nature.

Fast forward one week, it’s Tuesday 24th February 2015, two weeks before D-day and I was feeling shattered (you know that feeling during the latter stages of pregnancy!) so went to bed about 8:30. Just under three hours later, Mummy R burst into the room to tell me she had just felt her first contraction. In my dazed state I assume my initial response was inaudible as she repeated her statement slightly louder and more panicked. I employed my calmest demeanour and just as we had convinced ourselves that the pregnancy test was wrong, we came to the conclusion that this must be Braxton Hicks as we were two weeks away from the due date – it couldn’t be happening now, we hadn’t even packed the picnic basket!

 

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Lo and behold, twenty minutes later the second contraction (gulp), then two minutes later another. Shit, this was happening! But its ok because the antenatal classes insinuated this would be a long drawn out process. As I tried to recall the details, it dawned on me that I’d forgotten all other aspects of the class apart from the mention of a picnic which is probably not the most useful nugget of information at 11:35pm on a cold February night.

As the contractions started to pile up on the mobile phone app I started to feel more and more useless. Controlling the stopwatch didn’t really seem like an integral part of this operation, particularly as I had to clarify every time that the contraction had indeed started and then finished. Maybe an old fashioned clipboard would have elevated my status – I will consider this next time around. Whilst I never expected to be the starring role I had hoped to be a recognised supporting actor. Anyway, we decided that I should go to the hospital and pick up a TENS machine – yes I felt useful again! So we got the mother-in-law on the phone to maintain contact with Mummy R whilst I sped (legally of course) off to the hospital.

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The hospital was only five minutes away and the lights were on my side so before long I was marching through the hospital towards the maternity department. Signed my forms, handed over my deposit and was turning to leave again – checked my phone – I’d been out exactly ten minutes. With that, my phone started ringing… it was Mummy R… was the baby already out? Had my mission to be useful actually resulted in me missing the whole thing? Nope… she was just shouting (between groans) “why aren’t you back yet?”!! Luckily the contractions were so close together that’s all she could muster so I set off through the hospital back to the car. Not sure why she was so worried, the midwife said we had ages to go yet. On my way back my mind flashed back to the antenatal class… maybe they should dedicate less time to picnic preparation and more towards useful things to say whilst your wife is bent double in agony every two minutes.

Timecheck… about 1am.

I returned home, TENS machine in hand, no baby noises to be heard (phew!) and Mummy R hiding in the downstairs toilet. TENS machines… What? Where? How? Again maybe another useful topic to cover off in the antenatal class rather than making us re-enact an epidural which to be honest I would not have volunteered to do at the hospital even IF the highly trained anaesthetist had offered! Trying to figure out the pads, wires and strength, I probably shocked myself more than Mummy R (at least this proved it wasn’t one big dream!) and before long we were phoning the hospital again as the contractions hadn’t slowed. I expect experienced mums are probably reading this shouting “why weren’t you already at hospital you ‘kin idiot?” My defence… I had tried to remain calm and prevent us visiting the maternity ward too early to save Mummy R being told she was only two centimetres and that we should go home and have a picnic – not sure she would have taken that news too well! Now, what I failed to realise was that the frequency and duration of the contractions probably indicated we were further along than we… I… thought. Maybe this was covered in the antenatal class but in that pointless phase before lunch when your mind has already switched to thinking about sandwich fillings, crisp flavours and whether there will be any warm coffee left.

At 1:45am we set about leaving the house. Yes! Another useful task for me… load the car with the umpteen bags we had packed – no time to double check the lists – hope we’d remembered everything!

 

Luggage Colors Shop Tourism Aircraft

 

Half way to the hospital we caught a red light – shit. Should I powerslide through it like some Hollywood car scene or maintain my composure and assure Mummy R everything is fine keeping to rules of the road? I opted for the latter – damn boring life of a business analyst! As we sat there stationary, Mummy R winced and groaned in pain… at that point I honestly thought the baby was going to be born right there… at a crossroads… in Gillingham. Classy!

It hadn’t even crossed my mind that the baby could be delivered in the car – to me the options had always been home birth or hospital and we had successfully avoided the former, there was no alternative. Now that in-transit delivery seemed a distinct possibility I panicked for the first time… firstly I wasn’t sure a GCSE in Science was sufficient to deliver a baby and maybe more importantly despite all our lists… we only had one towel in the car… one towel!! Now, what I had learned from those few episodes of OBEM (apart from how much I love the Bristolian accent) was that one towel just wouldn’t cut it. Obviously i didn’t portray my panic to Mummy R, I just joked that the baby could be called Fleur as we were opposite the Fleur de Lis pub. Luckily the lights changed to green and the baby hadn’t arrived. The journey continued and the car remained unscathed.

 

I hadn’t planned for this to be a two-parter but i think i will stop here and pick up again at the hospital (yes spoiler alert i know!) in the next instalment.

 

 

 

  1. Brilliant instalment. Brings back many memories of my own three deliveries….. they NEVER go to plan!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brings back memories of Basildon Hospital and many machines …………………

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