Top Tip: Sometimes coffee and biscuits aren’t a great idea.
We arose early to get to the hospital for our induction. After three failed attempts at sweeping the floor (or whatever it’s called!) and following every old wives’ tale in the book, we were given a hospital appointment to meet our baby twelve days after her initial due date. This was another occasion where I wasn’t really aware of how things happened. In my somewhat naive mind’s eye I thought we’d nip in, have a baby and be back on the road home within the hour. Now we were playing the waiting game. This included gingerly shuffling around the hospital, making awkward conversation with other couples we bumped into from our ward.
I was quietly confident that I could do whatever was needed during the stress of labour. You know, dab her brow, tickle her arm, tell her to breathe and rub her back. All the usual stuff you see on those programs your Missus insists you have to watch. Yet again, I saw it going differently in my mind. As soon as the labour pains got more intense I was told by Rachel in no uncertain terms: “During contractions DON’T LOOK AT ME! DON’T SPEAK TO ME! DO NOT TOUCH ME! DO NOT OFFER ME WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT! I NEED TO GET IN THE ZONE!”
After hearing this the midwife shot me a knowing look as if to say ‘If you cross her we’re both dead’ and we were together in our fear of my wife. The tricky bit of all this was having to brief Rachel’s Mum of the rules when she arrived to join us in the labour suite. I wanted to get across the urgency whilst not frightening the life out of her Mum. We ended up sitting in silence, heads bowed during contractions. We communicated only in eyebrow raising, slight nods and grimacing expressions.
Despite the silence I ended up having a quite comfortable night. As the hours drew on the lovely midwife brought a reclining chair (for me, not Rachel!) and tea, coffee and biscuits into the room. Here lies my next mistake. In slight recline and happily minding my own business, I began to dip the cookies into my steaming hot cup of Joe as Rachel’s fan gently wafted around the room. My moment of peace and tranquillity was interrupted by the shrill cry of the wife – “DANNY…STOP…WITH THE BISCUITS!” It was then I realised the full aroma was being fanned straight into Rachel’s nose holes. Considering she wasn’t allowed to eat and felt canny sick, I felt slightly bad but not bad enough to stop eating. I simply redirected the fan and finished them bad boys off.
The epidural only took effect on one side of Rachel’s body due to having to lie on that side to keep baby’s heart rate steady. This meant that when the time came, myself, the Mother-in-Law and the midwife had to manoeuvre her to be ready for the delivery. I knew what I needed to do however the confusing ‘go on three’ vs ‘one, two, three, go’ dilemma threw me. This is no excuse for the fact that I failed to ‘support her back’ with my spare hand and she literally nearly ended up falling backwards off the side of the bed. Thankfully she was strung out on gas and air and blamed herself.
After almost 24 hours in labour on a drip, gas and air, diamorphine and an epidural (for Rachel) our beautiful baby girl entered the world weighing in at 9lb 5oz. Perfection.
I remember the first time I saw Ayla’s head. It was the strangest feeling in which my head went fuzzy and all of the emotions came pouring out of my face which I hid from the crowd down the side of the bed.
Read all the Parenting books you want, nothing, and I mean nothing will prepare you for being catapulted into parenthood. I remember the magical feeling of holding our daughter for the first time which was suddenly coupled with the realisation that we now had a child to care for. The five midwives in the room had suddenly scarpered leaving us to fend for ourselves in a scary, new, baby-filled world. I developed a deeper love with my wife watching her go through labour. They say the pain of labour is the equivalent of breaking twenty bones simultaneously. For all us fellas think we’re canny solid, there’s no way I’d put myself through that. Women must have an unbelievable pain threshold and the lengths my wife went to deliver our daughter was heroic to me.
After being awake for 36 hours, I was told to leave the hospital (honestly, I hadn’t done anything wrong, it’s just protocol). Although gutted to be leaving my girls, I was secretly buzzing to be getting a good night’s sleep. So buzzing I actually made a song on the car journey home, based around my new daughter’s name, to the tune of R.E.M’s ‘Shiny Happy People’. I sang it all the way, full pelt to stay awake. This is dedicated to the brilliant midwives at the RVI Hospital, Newcastle. You guys are amazing!
Welcome to the world, Our Ayla Smiler.