Ok, she’s been keeping you awake snoring, she can barely move and you’re wondering if she’s going to burst (M. really did look pretty taut!). And then, all the planning reaches zero hour. It’s the day of the birth!
In our case, as I have said, we knew that it would be a c.section, so we had a couple of weeks to prepare, but still, the same air of amazement will surround you. This will be a testing day for both of you and the beginning of the rest of your life. Seatbelts on? Then let’s go!
When you end up in the hospital, whether suddenly due to labour or, in our case, due to a planned operation, remember that, to the hospital, you aren’t exactly essential. To the mother though you ARE. Remember that. Go on, say it to yourself! Today, she’ll be going through pains like she’s never experienced before. She’s going to scream at you and make horrid noises and there’ll be lots of goo and mess. But this is WORTH IT. Believe me.
In our case, M. was tubed up and ready to go, after yet another CTG scan of Sunshine’s heartbeat (we had got blasé about these after experiencing the 7th or 8th) but we had to wait a bit. We had been at the hospital since 6.45 a.m. and it was now 9.45, and we were getting, shall we say, somewhat peeved. However, then they came and collected her. I was told to wait until the spinal anaesthetic had worked but then it was time for the green clothes. You’ll feel a bit dim and almost like going to an execution. But this is something different. You’re about to experience new life.
OK, woah. Let’s take 5. There’s a lot of discussion amongst fathers about whether to be in the show or not. Do you want to see her in pain or being torn open? Would you not rather read a novel or listen to some music and wait for the nurse? Opinion (and midwives!) tend towards saying a father SHOULD be there. BUT. It’s your choice. If you don’t want to, SAY SO. If you really can’t face it, then be honest. Honesty really is the best policy. For myself, I originally didn’t want to, but then slowly came around to the idea and then said that, if M. wanted it, I would go. After all, I was just a spectator, not the person going through it all. I don’t regret it now. Nor will you, if it is TRULY your choice to be there.
So, you’re in the delivery room and she’s puffing and panting, or, as in our case, you’re in an little operating theatre, where there are lots of people with facemasks and lots of machines going bleep. Either way, you’re about to witness a miracle. The c.section doesn’t actually take very long (about 5-10 minutes) and M. was SO brave during it. I sat beside her, both behind the improvised screen (you’d pass out if you saw what they were doing!), holding her hand. There was a lot of heaving and shoving on the other side of the screen and M. had to grit her teeth a lot. But then…
28th December 2012, 10.26 a.m. and there it was. That cry from the other side of the screen. Sunshine was here and was a boy (we still had had no idea whether Sunshine was male or female). A few minutes later, when the docs have done their work, and you’ll be handed a small bundle of towels and blankets. Yup, bubba’s in there and a few minutes old.
Don’t shy away – yup, it’s a bit icky, a strange colour and thoughts of “This is not what we ordered (!)” will fly through your head (Sunshine, when carried out, was a reddish purple and looked rather yucky…). This tiny being is a result of human reproduction, was originally just two cells and will grow and grow into a human being just like you. You’ll hold it for the first time and then the world will dissolve. Your cares will vanish. You won’t believe it or be able to imagine it until you’ve been there. I couldn’t.
The next couple of hours will fly by as it’s just you, her and the baby. Hospitals go on about bonding with the child. It’s bunkum. The child will mostly be asleep and men don’t bond with their children for a while. But be there – you’re needed. She’ll want to talk and you’ll want to talk. You might collapse in a pool of tears at the joy of being a father. I didn’t. Suddenly there was a little mite there and there was so much to get done that I didn’t have time to let it sink in (it will come later, don’t worry).
Of course, you’ll want to tell people. But my suggestion is to let it flow out slowly. So many people now announce things to everyone instantly via Facebook or Twitter. Be patient. People will find out when you want them to. Do this stuff at your own speed. We worked out in advance who we would contact in which order and stuck to that.
Also, listen to the nurses and what they say. Although this might all seem like a whirl, you’ll get some useful information. Our nurse changed Sunshine’s nappy in a trice, whereas I would have wanted a step-by-step guide, with the chance of me being able to do it. Oh well! Our midwife more or less expected me to stay overnight at the hospital. But we agreed that, as the hospital was only 15 minutes from our house, I would go home when we agreed it right (in my case, it was about 6.30 p.m.), have some dinner and get the information out. I was then blessed to be able to on to my in-laws and spread the happy news (thanks to them).
If you want to stay overnight, then do. But there is LITTLE you can do. Bubs will be asleep most of the time (they spend more of the first 24-48 hours resting after the stress of the birth – and who can blame them?!), any feeding will be *droplets* of milk and your wife/partner will be pretty knackered too. The best thing you can do is to get and get some air. Be yourself for the evening, get some space and a little bit of normality and digest what’s been happening. Yes, you’re now a father!
So what comes next? Well, we’ll go through the first days and weeks in the next post!