Our next Guest Blogger for National Share A Story Month is not only a Dad… he’s also Parenting Phil’s Pips other half! This should make for an interesting read….
Would You Rather… Be in Labour or Watch Labour? by Gary Douglas
As a father, I found the whole 9 months of pregnancy and the resulting childbirth extremely stressful. So much so, I started to suffer with Alopecia, weeks into the announcement of our first and second child. The overriding worry for myself was‘ What if something goes wrong?’.
‘What if something goes wrong’ was a thought I didn’t want to talk about with Pips in too much depth, the last thing I wanted to do was worry her. So, I took to the net, and I have to say there is very little out there in regard to support for fathers, nothing like that of the mother’s support network. Who knew there was even an “it’s not about you” attitude on the internet too when it comes to childbirth.
The same attitude was alive and well at the NCT classes, as we were reminded several times, the process is about the woman and the baby being safe, which I agree 100%, but it’s not just a woman and the baby that goes through the journey, it’s the partners and to be grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles and anyone else involved in the 9-month journey and beyond, that are called upon.
Nevertheless, I did enjoy the antenatal classes. I wanted to understand what was happening, what to expect, what not to expect, and be able to be prepared for Pips! However, looking back, I think it could have been hugely beneficial for fathers-to-be, to have half an hour or so together to speak without the ears of their partners listening, so they could air their concerns without upsetting or causing any unnecessary worry for mums to be.
Instead, we were given the big one from the antenatal nurses who didn’t mix her words when stating … “if you’re there, you look after yourself”, which is true but a little talk about the day from our perspective would have probably helped.
Then came the first labour…
When it’s not you having to concentrate and deal with contractions, and the ever-increasing pain, you have A LOT of time on your hands, and you spend that time over thinking situations like ‘didn’t I hear more problems happen in hospital on weekends‘… ‘SH*T ITS SUNDAY’!
You start out OK, but as the hours pass and the contractions increase, those pain noises quickly turn into howls of pain. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve had to go through sitting holding Pips hand for the final couple of hours of childbirth. Hearing half the conversations and not really understanding what’s going on, watching doctors and midwives come and go, throwing a fleeting smile like everything is OK.
Then came the decision of emergency surgery and this is where you can definitely be better prepped, watching Pips being forced to sign a disclaimer whilst not knowing what’s going on and screaming in pain was horrendous to watch.
At this stage for me, I stood aside while the staff went into action and Pip’s mum went with her into surgery, leaving me in a room in emotional tatters, its only after when you see the baby and know that mum is OK, that you have an epiphany of how amazing modern medicine is that has led to Pips and the baby still being alive.
I know that sounds deep, but you don’t have to go too far back in time before childbirth situations like ours were fatal, and this is the kind of thing circling your mind whilst watching labour as opposed to experiencing it.
The second time around was a complete flip, thinking the 9 months was the easy part, I actually worried and had more sleepless nights than the previous time. You already have one baby, so the classes don’t happen, there is less support and your kind of left to get on with it.
Twelve weeks into the pregnancy, we were told Pips scored highly for the chance of the baby having Downs Syndrome after tests showed she had a low PAPP A hormone. Cue Alopecia part 2! More tests and £400 lighter, the tests showed baby was healthy.
Labour, the second time around, was much easier (for me!) We had a pre-elected date for surgery, so we went in together and actually went into delirious bursts of laughter with the waiting around. Originally scheduled as being the first to go into surgery, I think the Midwife saw how relaxed we were, and somehow ended up bumped into last place. I was definitely ‘battle’ ready this time!
To continue the ‘flip’, it was Pips who had time to think about what could happen, and when I was ushered into the theatre after taking selfies of myself in my scrubs in a side room, I found her quietly crying on the table, overwhelmed by what was happening around her. Serious choke time.
However, that moment was quickly taken over by my biggest shock of all, how HOT a little baby is when born, nobody prepared me for that!
Now I know there are other fathers out there that will relate 100% to the first scenario, and mothers that will be horrified that I’m even questioning the situation, but nobody prepares you for an emergency situation and standing by watching is hard, the spectator has the memories of what could have happened while the participant (Pips) has a blissful hole in her memory of that day!
If I could draw on all my emotion and experience of two labours, with the first one being an emergency c-section, the best tip I could give any father preparing, would be to:
- Make sandwiches
- Pack a water bottle
- Take a packet of tissues and brace yourself!!