I’m absolutely delighted to announce the birth of my baby boy!
Wow, what a day! I have a son, a beautiful baby boy! Ok, let’s start from the beginning:
On Saturday night, about 9pm, my wife started to feel regular pains about 10 minutes apart. This is one of the signs we were told to watch for to tell when labour starts. The pain seemed really uncomfortable, but (dare I say it) not excruciating. All that was still to come.
I took the only armchair in the house my wife could sit comfortably on through to the sitting room, put on relaxing music and started to time the contractions. We did this for about 3 hours and realised the pattern wasn’t changing. I stopped timing and focussed on holding her hand, trying to say calming relaxing things and just generally be there for her. One thing that did seem to help was I got a wet cloth and held it to her forehead. Another thing that helped was when the pain was getting to the peak, our dog would come and dab her nose on my wife’s leg to take her mind off the pain. However I suspect that’s not a useful tip that can easily be transferred to your household…
The pain seemed to subside slightly around 2am, so we decided to go to bed. However as soon as we got to bed the pain came back with a vengeance. The timings were still not consistently close enough to what we were told to wait for before heading to the hospital, but with the increase in pain intensity we decided to go to the hospital. I phoned ahead so they would be expecting us.
When we arrived the midwife took us into a room and examined my wife. 1cm dilated. It needs to be 10cm dilated before going into the next stage of labour which is still a long way off. They typically expect you to go 1cm every hour. Since we only live 5 minutes from the hospital, the midwife recommended we go back home as the pain at this point was starting to subside once again. The midwife gave us some tablets for the pain and we were on our way back home again.
When we got home my wife popped one of the pain relief pills and we went to bed. The pains kept going until around 4am when they all but died away, giving us a chance to get some well needed rest.
The next morning we both woke around 9am and the pains were still coming, but were not very strong. This wasn’t the pattern we were told to look for, I had expected the level of pain to remain constant form the start, if anything getting stronger, and the intervals between them should get closer together.
I was wondering if we should phone the hospital again to see if this is normal, but at around 10am the pains came back on again.
So, back through to the sitting room where the armchair was still set up. I was back on wet cloth duties and cups of tea. The pains were really strong and I did feel helpless watching her go through it. We watched a couple of DVDs, and tried to keep a calm and relaxed atmosphere. The pains stayed consistently strong all day, but never really getting closer together.
That was until around 11pm at night. Just as we got into bed it was like a switch went on. The pain went from strong to excruciating. I was holding her hand trying to keep her focussed on her breathing, but I could see this was the time we needed to get to the hospital, regardless of the timings we needed to go. I phoned the hospital to say we were on our way, grabbed the hospital bag and helped my wife into the car. I drove as fast as I safely could, got to the hospital and hobbled in the door. We just got inside the front door when another contraction hit. The maternity ward is upstairs an the stairs are quite a distance into the hospital. I suggested we get a wheelchair but she declined. As the contraction passed, we made our way to the maternity ward. Luckily it was the same midwife on from the previous night. She was excellent. We went into the same room we were in the previous night and had another examination. 2cm dilated. I couldn’t believe it, I was sure it must be close to baby time, but it looks like this is just the beginning.
We were taken through to another room when the contractions got even worse. No sooner had we got into the room than my wife vomited over the floor. I got a pan from the side of the bed and handed it to her just in time for another vomit. And another. They didn’t tell us that would happen in any of the classes! I was trying to hold her hair back, rub her back and keep her propped against the bed as she struggled with the vomiting and contractions. That was definitely a low point in the night. I don’t want to detract from the obvious discomfort of my wife, but at this point of trying to help, I suddenly had my face, and therefore my nose, directly above the sick-filled pan. The smell was almost making me ill and I was starting to feel light headed. I thought I’d best not complain though!
The midwife came back and gave her a tablet (sorry I am useless with names and can’t remember what it was called) which would take around 30 minutes to kick in, but thankfully the vomiting stopped quicker than that.
The midwife went to get the birthing pool ready as that, if nothing else, is apparently good for the pain. Also there is no gas & air in the room we were in, but as much as you can fill your lungs with in the labour room where the pool is. Through we went and she got in the pool. The warm water did really help and she stayed in there for about a couple of hours, sucking on the gas and air.
After a while, the pool just didn’t cut it. She needed something stronger. By this time she was getting exhausted and needed help. We opted for diamorphene, which meant we weren’t allowed in the pool any more. Out she got, onto the bed and got the dose of diamorphene. It kicked in quite fast, and before long she was settling down and starting to relax again. You could still see when a contraction hit, but she wasn’t in pain. We both got some sleep.
At this point my timings go a bit vague, but I think it was an hor, maybe 2 hours that the pain relief lasted. That sleep was a lifesaver. She woke with renewed energy, ready to battle on with the contractions.
This carried on until 6am when the midwife examined her again. 8cm now, getting closer! The midwives were changing shifts so we got a new midwife, who was also excellent. I can’t believe how lucky we were to get the two midwives we did, they couldn’t have been better.
8am and the pain is starting to wear my wife down again. I can see the exhaustion kicking in again. This is where things started to go wrong. Dilation hadn’t moved, it was still 8cm. And worse, there was some swelling which meant she might not reach full dilation,at least not for a while. We decided to have another dose of diamorphene to give another 2 hours of relief and help relax her. This might give enough time to fully dilate and by relaxing the swelling may go down. As with the first dose, the diamorphene kicked in and we got some much needed sleep.
At around 10am the pain was starting to return. We had another examination, it was now at 9cm. Going in the right direction but still not fast enough and there was still swelling. It was decided to wait another hour to see if we were going to get to 10cm to start pushing.
Meanwhile, my wife was going trhough the mill, filling her lungs with gas and air but still not getting enough.
At 11am, it was still 11cm. The midwife called for a doctor who came to discuss the options with us. We decided we had to go for a Cisarion Section. It was looking unlikely to fully dilate any time soon, and there was still the actual birth part to come. At this point my wife had been in labour for over 36 hours and was absolutely drained of energy.
I got ushered down to theatre and put scrubs on. I have to admit it did feel quite cool wearing them. I came into the theatre where my wife was on the bed int eh middle of the room surrounded by loads of people. Doctors, midwife, technicians, nurses. There must have been 20 people in that room. It was quite intimidating, but I figured they were all there for my wife and baby, so the more the better!
My wife had been given a local anaesthetic so was awake for the procedure. I sat with her up at her head,with a tent-type sheet over our heads so we couldn’t see anything. We had been warned beforehand that due to the drugs the baby might not cry when it comes out. This is normal and nothing to worry about.
After about 10 minutes we heard the doctor say “wow, that’s a whole lot of baby!”, then we heard our baby cry for the first time. It was such an amazing sound, and I immediately started to cry with joy. I looked around at the faces I could see from under the sheet we were under, everyone was smiling, a couple of them said congratulations.
As they were taking the baby over to another table to check and get cleaned up, one of the nurses came over and said “congratulations, it’s a boy”. My wife and I looked at each other and grinned through our tears. Just as I thought I could not get any more emotional they handed the baby to me. A bundle of white blankets with a tiny face looking out. That was a moment I will never forget, the first time I held my son. He wasn’t crying any more, he was just lying quite content in my arms. His chubby little face and closed eyes, tiny nose and big round cheeks.
We stayed there for about another 30 minutes till the doctors stitched my wife back together again, then they removed the screen so we could see everyone.
Next step was for them to check my wife and make sure she was ok after the operation. I was left holding the baby in the theatre, terrified I would drop him, or trip over as I was wearing hospital clogs that didn’t quite fit. A nurse took the baby and put him in a clear plastic cot on wheels. Myself, the midwife and a technician took the baby back upstairs to the maternity ward, into the room where the vomiting occurred 12 hours earlier. It seemed a lifetime ago.
I sat looking at our baby in silence for a short while trying to take it all in, when my wife was wheeled into the room. She was exhausted, but the anaesthetic and drugs still hadn’t worn off so she was enjoying the novelty of no longer being in pain. We got some photos taken on our phones and sent the photo to our friends, phoned close family and told them the good news.
Since then we have had a handful of visitors just close family as my wife really isn’t able for much at the moment. Neither am I to be honest. It’s been a long night and day, with labour totally over 40 hours since it started on Saturday evening. The adrenalin is calming down now, I think it’s time for sleep. There are no spare beds in the maternity ward, they usually encourage the father to go home to get some rest, but they are so busy they have agreed to let me stay the night. I’m sleeping on a chair tonight, but I don’t care, as long as I am close to my family that’s all that matters!