So, a quick recap. 10 Days overdue and knowing we had a chunky baby on the way, we finally found ourselves in a delivery room at the hospital. Labour was pretty intense and after dealing with unbearably painful contractions brought on by the hormone drip for what felt like an eternity (and that was just how *I* felt!), an epidural was administered and when it finally kicked in, we both got a little bit of rest.
This blog was initially written shortly after I got home from the hospital. It’s taken me a while to get round to actually posting it, but hey, I’ve had a bit on!
Anyway. Part two begins – very suddenly – in the (very) early hours of Sunday morning…
A Rude Awakening
The midwife on the night-shift had gone for her mid-shift break. She was apparently just putting on her protective gear outside the room when my half-awake brain became aware of rushing feet and a change in the rhythm of beeping and whirring in the room around us. The covering midwife left the room, returning moments later with the other midwife, a surgical specialist and a paediatrician. I wasn’t sure what was going on or aware of how tense the situation was until someone declared, “we’ve got to get this baby out, now!”. Apparently his heart rate had started to slow, which may not have been a serious problem, but to be on the safe side they decided that he had to be delivered there and then.
This was around 2:30 am. Suddenly, the chair that I had been sleeping in for barely two hours was pushed aside and I was standing by m’wife’s bed, holding her hand and stroking her forehead as medical people rushed around down at the other end. Surgical gowns were donned, a tray of implements that I deliberately didn’t get a good look at was wheeled out. My wife was still half asleep and spaced out and was suddenly being told she was ready.
The surgeon got to work, but I was focused on holding m’wife’s hand as the instructions came; you know how this bit goes, lots of breathing and pushing, it was all a bit of a blur. Then, three big pushes later…
With incredible suddenness, there he was, lying on my wife’s chest. Wrapped in a white towel (or, at least, a towel that had been white a few seconds earlier!). After weeks of keeping us waiting, hours of pain and a cocktail of drugs, it was suddenly over. A tiny person, wearing a pink hat and with an impressive Disney villain/James Bond henchman scar across his face from the forceps. My son!
02:45am. My baby-boy had arrived, weighing in at a hefty 9lb 12oz (“to shreds, you say!”). At first, he looked a bit like baby Thanos; I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that he was a bright, blue-ish purple colour when he first emerged. There wasn’t a lot of movement or crying at first, but it wasn’t long before he started bawling and his skin began to turn a more normal, pinkish-red-y colour.
Everyone always says that birth is a beautiful miracle. Now, I’m not saying that they’re wrong, in its own way it is, but they rarely mention the fact that it is also like a mash-up of scenes from Saw, The Exorcist, Carrie and Alien all rolled into one. I knew to stay away from the business end, not least after Robbie Williams described it as being like “watching his favourite pub burn down”. But I still caught glimpses of a few things, including blood-covered swabs and instruments (and don’t even Google what a placenta looks like!), but I stayed focussed on the dishevelled and tired faces of my wife and son.
I didn’t cry, I’m still somewhat disconnected from my emotional state – which is probably what got me (and m’wife) through the night – but suddenly all my worries about how I would feel and whether would I bond with this little, angry potato evaporated. There was no dramatic moment where he reached up and squeezed my hand, but he did stop crying and seemed to make eye contact with me. His eyes are just like his mother’s, in that I couldn’t tell what colour they actually were. But he was here. I had been expecting to shit myself, waiting to freak out for months, but now he was here. And I was in love.
The next few hours passed in time-lapse around us in a whirlwind of tests and inspections as we were having our first family cuddle. Bloody swabs and other things I was trying not to look at were disposed of in the background as my wife and I stared down at the chubby, squished up little face now sleeping on her chest.
We missed out on the first nappy change – which has its own special name, which should give you an idea of how ‘unique’ it is. I was all ready to do my part, but the midwife changed him quickly so he could be taken up to the NICU. At least there was no chance of them coming back with the wrong baby, as he has his distinctive Kratos scar! He’s been remarkably chilled so far, having only cried for a little while (eventually) after finally being born.
Eventually, the carnage had been cleared away and he was placed in the trolley/bed thing and taken away to be given antibiotics. I wasn’t allowed to go with him because of the Coronavirus restrictions, but it was OK. It gave my wife and I the chance to be together for a bit. They brought him back sometime later and I helped to dress him in his first adorable little outfit, then I got to sit and cuddle him for a bit. He fell asleep on my chest for an hour or so before my wife was taken down to the recovery ward, which was my cue to leave.
It wasn’t as heartbreaking to leave them in the hospital and return home as I had expected. I decided to focus on the positives; at least I could go home, get a bath, catch up on some sleep and get the house ready for the literal and proverbial shitstorm that I knew would be arriving shortly.
At this point, we want to say a huge thank you to all the staff on the maternity ward at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle, especially Lisa, the midwife who got us through the night and kept us calm while everything else was going on. It wasn’t an easy birth (more on that later!), but everyone took such great care of us and worked so hard to make sure all three of us made it safely through the night. Words cannot express our gratitude for bringing our beautiful son into the world for us.
So here I am, sat in the bath with a cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits, enjoying the last few hours of silence and solitude. At this moment, I’m not sure it feels real; like last night was both the best and worst dream I could imagine. It will be a few days before I can go and pick them up, and then the next chapter of our adventure begins…
I Am Your Father – Season 2 will return shortly