Well, quite a bit’s happened since I put my last blog post out. We’ve been getting prepared for our first family Christmas in the new house, I’m back at training, and there’s the small matter of my first child making his appearance into the world. So to say the last few weeks have been a whirlwind would be like saying my hair’s a little bit ginger… it’s been the adventure of all adventures. But before I get all gushy, I want to go through how our new favourite human, Milo, made his way into our lives (and by that I mean the labour, not how we *made* him. No-one wants to hear those details) (Aside from a very niche section of society).
After a particularly long dog walk nearly eight weeks ago, Suz waddled over to me saying she felt as though she was leaking. Now, leaking’s not a word you tend to attribute to your missus unless you’re dating polyethylene pipe, and even then it’s probably not a great sign. So knowing the midwife was due a visit, I sent Suz to go chill on the sofa and panicked internally that my mate Manny was on his way to our house for a weekend of biking while my baby may be making his appearance before I even had the chance to say ‘muddy spoke’.
The midwife checked Suz over and assured us all was fine, to keep an eye on things and rest up over the next few days. I breathed a mini sigh of relief and Manny turned up ready for a weekend of getting muddy.
The next day Leaky Linda woke up feeling exceptionally tired so I wrapped her up in bed like a burrito, laid assorted snacks and drinks on the duvet and put the remotes in reach. Manny and I went out on the bikes and aside from popping back every few hours to check Suz hadn’t fully punctured, we got a whole day’s riding in. Later that night, an ordinarily very hungry Suz didn’t fancy eating anything (well, she said she didn’t, then scoffed the entirety of my chicken chow mein; “oh no, I really don’t want anything to ea… oh is that chow mein?”) so we presumed, teamed with the lack of energy, this meant labour time might be along in the next few days.
While Manny and I chilled downstairs watching MOTD, Suz waddled off to shower and sleep, thinking it was probably one of the last few times she’d be able to without a crying baby within earshot (plus I don’t think she was overly fussed about catching up on that day’s goals. Crazy). And then, an hour later after I myself had gone upstairs, I walked in to our bedroom to find a newly fake tanned, freshly nail-painted Suz, watching (ironically) a programme about the Boxing Day Tsunami, casually muttering ‘Ummm, hi babe. I think my waters might have broken’.
“REALLY?! Whydoyouthinkthat?” I squeaked, in a spectacular display of calm.
“Well, I heard an elastic band sound along with a snapping feeling in my tummy.”
“Riiiight. And do you have loads of water gushing out?!”
“Not sure yet. I haven’t got out of bed because I’ve only just painted my nails and I don’t want to smudge them. I’ll just foof on them a bit to get them to dry quicker”.
So, while Suz foofed on her nails I quietly shat myself and glanced over the hospital bags, desperately trying to weigh up if we were ready to go if need be.
“Oh. Yep. They’ve definitely broken”
Suz was now out of bed, knickers round her knees, with water cascading out of her not drastically unlike the scenes playing out on the tsunami programme on screen. We got all excited (I probably squeaked a bit more) and then calmed ourselves down, ready to ride out the next 24 hours as prepared.
Only, that didn’t happen.
Suz had only just managed to phone the hospital and plug in her hypnobirthing CD before the first contraction came along. And it was intense. And then seven minutes later, another one came along. And then another one, four minutes later.
“I can’t get a grip on them. Seriously, this is so much more painful than I thought. Am I being a sap? AM I GREG? Why do they hurt so much already? Why aren’t I getting a break in between them? Greg?! WHY ARE THEY COMING SO FAST?”
I suggested, seeing as I had about zero answers, that Suz called her mum. And after having two contractions over the phone in a four minute conversation, Big Sue suggested it might be time to get on the way to the hospital.
When we got there, Suz was coping by humping a hot water on all fours while I performed shaky apples on her lower back (see hypnobirthing blog post if you’re wondering what on EARTH that is).
“Any specific ideas on what sort of birth you’d like sweetheart?” asked the midwife.
“A water birth, she wants to go in the pool” I responded immediately, while Suz continued to be all energetic porn star on the hot water bottle.
“Ah, I’m afraid that won’t be possible. The thermostats aren’t working”.
After a few mini cries from Suz and being informed she was four centimetres dilated already, an hour into the process things were already moving along very quickly and an epidural was asked for to try and calm things down; ‘Kourtney had one on Keeping Up With The Kardashians and it looked so much less painful than this shit’. The anesthetist rocked up looking more than a little tired and gave us the lowdown on what would be happening next. The epidural should numb the lower half and make the contractions, if not disappear altogether, much less intense than they currently were.
Only, that didn’t happen.
Having not given birth at any point in her life before, Suz wasn’t entirely sure how she should be feeling. And in her usual I-didnt-want-to-cause-a-fuss style decided not to mention that aside from a numb leg, the epidural hadn’t worked and the pain was still horrific. By now, she’d got to eight centimetres dilated in five hours and no amount of mooing (while me and the midwife had a good chat about Ed Sheeran and Las Vegas) was getting her through. Along with some gas and air induced vomiting, Suz was getting to the point where she was starting to cry she couldn’t do it and despite forewarning from our hypnobirthing teacher Maggie, I wasn’t quite as prepared as I’d have liked to have been.
I honestly don’t know that anything can prepare you. It’s a cliche, and often muttered by glazed-eyed husbands and boyfriends post labour, but seeing the one you love in so much pain is horrible. Suz told me afterwards that throughout the whole process she felt as though she was trapped. In her own mind she had concise thoughts but couldn’t vocalise them. Saw that there was no ‘good’ way out. She was riding out so much pain and felt as though no-one was listening to her or helping. Hearing this, I was suddenly very aware me and the midwife endlessly telling her to ‘breaaaathe and big push’ was probably more annoying than listening to Peter Andre’s Greatest Hits but there was nothing else we could do. Plus, aside from the occasional moo, she made absolutely no noise so it was often hard to gauge how she was feeling. Three hours of pushing later and the midwife gently suggested using other methods. The sucky cone-y thing or forceps. Milo’s heartbeat was still really strong so he wasn’t in distress but he’d turned himself so he was back to back with Suz and face up. Essentially, wedged.
This was about the time I lost my cool.
Prior to giving birth, Suz had been very, very strong in telling me under no circumstances did she want forceps. Absolutely not. They weren’t happening. And she repeatedly made me promise on her life that I’d agree to have my balls cut off before letting anyone go near her with forceps. I sent everyone out the room and sat down beside her as she drifted in and out of consciousness. By this point, I was exhausted and not embarrassed to admit I started crying. I could hear Suz wearily telling me to let them do it, but knew forceps terrified her and after hearing the list of possible complications, I was pretty scared too. It seemed like there was no way out and all I wanted was Suz back to normal and our baby out and healthy. “They said it will take seconds. Please, this has been so long and there’s no other option. Just agree to it” said Suz. Probably while chewing on the gas and air pipe. A flurry of nurses and doctors came in, stirrups were slotted under Suz’s one wang leg and one normal leg and we were ready to go. Then, after three tugs on Milo’s head, he was here in the same time it took to make him (Jokes. I’ve got the stamina of Lee Evans on a caffeine high) (I haven’t).
And I can’t explain the relief.
Total relief. To see him laying on Suz’s chest, all covered in gunk and wielding the biggest balls I’ve ever seen in my LIFE was beyond anything I can describe and I just stood there crying (not because of the balls, because of the happiness). I was so proud and suddenly the whole nightmare just melted into a story we’ll regale with at dinner parties; ‘Oh remember when you gave birth to Milo darling? That was hell, wasn’t it!’ It was all finally over, I had a son and a very happy looking girlfriend, (albeit covered in quite a lot of blood) and if someone could recreate and bottle the feeling up, they’d make millions. We’re now nearly eight weeks into our adventure and just about settling into our groove. I reckon we’ve adjusted really well and now Suz’s gooch stitches have gone and Milo isn’t feeding every twenty minutes, we’re enjoying ourselves as a new little family. We’ve taken him out to dinner (although he stuck to boob, nothing on the menu tickled his fancy), to a friend’s wedding and numerous walks in the woods with the dogs and we’re having a blast. It transpires the reason for the quick labour was the fact Suz’s waters were indeed leaking for 48 hours, so by the time they fully broke, everything was ready to go. We’re not entirely sure what happened with the epidural failure, apparently they just don’t work on some women. So although Suz really enjoyed having a wonky leg for the entirety of labour, she’ll probably opt for alternative pain relief with any other children we might go on to have.
At the moment, we are struggling a bit with a dose of silent reflux but hopefully that’s something which will sort itself out soon and I’ll be keeping you all updated with the fun side of baby-related life in later posts. Right now I’m just surprised I’ve managed to get this post typed out without stopping to stare at him 27 times. He’s become my new favourite thing to watch, even ahead of Jessica Alba films, and seeing his wind face greet me every morning after a particularly hefty feed is better than anything in the world. So, here’s to fatherhood!