It was a lovely warm summer evening when Tash felt the tingle of the initial stages of labour wash over her glowing pregnant body….. was it bollocks, we had been at a friend’s, I had been drinking Gin & Tonic, Tash Capri sun and I was in the dog house. I remember finishing the argument with “wouldn’t it be typical if you went into labour now” whilst secretly thinking ‘actually if she’s not talking to me labour could be pretty peaceful’ – she’s stubborn like that.
We went to bed that night, her wedged in her 9ft pregnancy pillow and me balanced on the slither of bed remaining.
At 6am I got the nudge that ‘it was starting’. I shot out of bed like an emergency responder. Having spent months preparing for this moment, countless hours on google, asking my friends about their experiences (and other peoples forced upon me), I was ready… or not, my mind went completely blank and found myself standing there in my pants staring blankly.
A shot of rescue remedy (started using this earlier that month to prepare for a best mans speech) some coffee and a nervous poo and I was off the bench and onto the pitch.
Tash even remained calm whilst I awkwardly hooked her up to a tens (should be called tense) machine whilst reading the instructions at the same time. I never get flustered with IKEA furniture yet in the moment this was the most complicated thing I had done in a while. Not completely sure about the pad location I proceeded zapping her kidneys and forcing rescue remedy down her throat as if a wizard had given it to me.
As I was going through the hospital bag, that I had already triple checked I heard a calm voice ‘I think my waters have broken’ from the toilet. The immediate thoughts in my head were, how do I say you sure you’re not just having a wee without being condescending and was it inappropriate to ask to look – in my mind I think I expected to see the top of a head. So I went to see what was going on – with a fish net behind my back, just in case my theory was right.
After a call to the hospital, her water had slightly broken so it was time to call Thunderbird 2, aka Mum and Dad, to put the plan into place. When they turned up Tash’s contractions were getting closer together and the pain had intensified. I started to get that feeling of frustration as you watch someone you love in pain and can’t do anything about it and just want to take it away. So I finished off the Haribo.
After what felt like a four hour drive (parent driving eh, wait that’ll soon be me) we arrived at hospital and I remember thinking; do we really need all these bags?! I blame those tick lists. I think we took less stuff when we went on holiday for 10 days and considering I expected her to be naked from the waist down for the majority most of the day, this seemed like overkill.
The reception area was quiet and empty “hi, she’s in labour” I said softly as to try not to ruin the silence. The receptionist looked at me blankly as though I’d asked where the unicorns are kept. We were told to take a seat and wait our turn – looking around at the empty room this made no sense to me, combined with having watched too much Greys Anatomy I think I was expecting a more dramatic arrival.
She was only 2cm dilated* (*need to be at 10cm for delivery and at least 4cm to go to hospital) but because waters had broken we had to stay there. By this time Tash’s contractions were getting more painful and she was being sick in between. Not many things make me gag, seeing sick however is one of them. I had to step up. So I supportively held her hair with one hand, the cardboard sick bowl with the other while we heaved in a weird domino effect. She won’t know know until she reads this that I was sick in the bin behind her – I knew those haribo were a bad idea.
We planned for a natural birth, all very calm, dolphins and rainbows and the such like. After waiting four hours she had decided labour ward and epidural was the way forward (don’t blame her I would have chosen that option from 6am).
It’s now 2pm and she’s in a wheelchair being moved up to the labour ward. Initially she looked like she wasn’t struggling so took advantage of the wheelchair to move the bags – don’t judge me, the strap marks had only just gone and the dry heaving had taken it out of me.
We settled into what was going to be our room, lights were dim, very calming – well, apart from all the machines, with flashing lights and buttons that made it look like the inside of the millennium falcon.
Within a few minutes Tash was breathing like Darth Vader after spotting the gas and air and they had jabbed her in the bum with morphine. Soon she was ‘floating’, didn’t want to ruin it it by telling her that was actually because I was playing with the bed.
This became the norm until a routine check at 6pm when they said she was 8cm dilated and she was on track to give birth at 8.30 / 9pm. To add some icing on the delivery cake the room next door with the birthing pool had opened up and we were allowed to move. By this time she had decided not to have an epidural and the morphine had worn out and Tash was using just gas and air so the pool was a nice little extra as helped with the pain.
As I wandered out the toilet in my swimming trunks ….. ok not really, but I did try and be funny and said could her join her in the pool even though I’d be naked. They told me to get in, I got camera shy.
9.30 came around and the lovely midwife that had been with us all day left and was replaced by an unsympathetic youngster, think Doogie Howser, but more of a dick. She asked if I knew how to change one of the canisters which of course filled me with confidence (being a man, I obviously did), at one point whilst Tash was sloshing around I think she was in the corner playing her gameboy or whatever the kids have.
This is when the shit hit the proverbial fan.