With Baby No.2 on the way, the other half was somewhat concerned that this might be her last chance to have ‘the perfect birthing experience’
The first time with the Bear Cub wasn’t the most comfortable for mother or baby. He managed to be difficult and get himself caught up on the way out – knowing what he’s like now, I can’t help but think this was an early sign of things to come!
When we reflected back on it months later, we realised that none of us really had the best experience. The birthing plan had gone out of the window a couple of hours in. We had started well, getting a suite with a birthing pool at the hospital. So far so good. Then gas and air started to make things go a little hazy. And a bit nauseous.
At this point, a midwife came through to help her out of the pool and offered other forms of pain relief.
Now you may or may not be aware of the wonders of antenatal classes, but there’s a lot of talk and focus on birthing plans. So we made one. We discussed what we wanted and what we were less comfortable with over a post class KFC so we were prepared once we were in the thick of it.
My mistake was thinking that this would matter once the contractions kicked in. Panting that she wanted an epidural, I naively asked if she was sure and pointed out that she may want to try pethidine. After all, we’d discussed the escalation when it came to the drug options – gas and air, then pethidine, then epidural.
The attending midwife put me swiftly in my place. Brutal, direct and taking no prisoners, I was told it was ‘nothing to do with me’ and an epidural was swiftly arranged, whilst I tried to gather as much of my dignity and self esteem as I could sat quietly in the corner.
The role of the dad is one that is forgotten in all of these classes – what are you meant to do when your loved one is in pain? There’s only so many times you can rub her back incorrectly or stand in the one place the midwife needs to be. I’ve never felt more useless – there have been many occasions where I’ve been the proverbial spare part but this was a whole new level.
Bringing my laptop (they did say to bring things to do…) soon provided an answer – Football Manager kept me amused and out of trouble while the other half took a well deserved, drug fuelled, pain inhibited nap before the next big push.
So back to the start of this post, where the quest for birthing perfection has begun. As she often does, my other half drops into conversation that she wants to have a home birth. She also fires into the mix that she wants to try hypnobirthing.
I’m not keen on either idea – homebirthing might well be a lovely concept but the reality of a giant paddling pool in the front room isn’t filling me with joy – imagine the cleaning up afterwards! And don’t even start me on the potential state of the carpet…
And as for hypnobirthing? I immediately get images of swinging pocket watches or Derren Brown strolling up to put her in a trance. She gets my best raised eyebrow and with a slightly despairing tone I ask her reasons whilst attempting (and to some extent failing) to be supportive.
Despite my reservations, she presses on with both. Remembering the withering words of the scary midwife, I stay away from controversy, even booking a birthing pool and TENS machine for her ready for the big day.
But even the best laid plans of mice, men and pregnant women can go astray, and we were soon to put her choices to the test.
To be continued…