Just over a week ago, my wife shared her birth story. It got me thinking about how two people can be together in the same place, going through the same thing (yes, I know I didn’t actually have the give birth or go through the pain!) can experience different feelings, thoughts and emotions.
So, I decided I’d write Emma’s birth story, but from my perspective. This is
my birth story, my story of Emma’s birth, I don’t know, you know what I mean!!
I was going to say ‘You might want to pop to the loo, put the kettle on, grab a snack, put your feet up and make yourself comfortable, because this is going to be a long one’, but it’s so long I’ve cut it into two parts.
Here’s Part 1…
Sunday 5th November. Bonfire night…but in the day…
We arranged to go to Cardiff to meet Emma’s parents and siblings for lunch at 1:30pm. On the way, Emma complained of the same tightenings and cramps she had been feeling off-and-on for about a week. Being 12 days from her due date, I didn’t really think anything of it.
We parked up and started walking to the restaurant. The pain wasn’t going away. “I really don’t know if I can make it to Cafe Rouge”, “I can’t walk that far”. Again, being just under two weeks from the due date, I didn’t think too much of it and encouraged Emma to plod along. Man am I coming across bad given what happens…!? I thought she would feel better when she was sat down, having some food. Yeah, that didn’t work out.
As this was the last time Emma’s family would see her before the baby came, they bought a few gifts. Em could barely concentrate on opening the presents or holding a conversation with anyone for more than a couple of sentences. We ordered food and her discomfort was growing. No one said it out loud, but I think everyone around the table was thinking ‘this might be it’, that she was in the early stages of labour.
Food arrived, and she still wasn’t back from the bathroom. The food was lovely, by the way! Still convinced she’d feel at least a bit better with some food in her, I encouraged Emma to eat. Didn’t happen. She might’ve had a few bites, but that was it. Rubbing her back, I said “You’re in early labour. It may be a few days, but I reckon you’re in early labour.” A few days, my arse! And she was soon back off to the bathroom. During this bathroom break, we were no longer thinking it to ourselves, it was pretty obvious Em was in labour. We wrapped up the meal pretty quickly and made our way home. But not before downloading a contraction timer app!
Home (Part 1)
As we drove home, what little doubt we might have had about this being it was gone. Those tightenings weren’t just tightenings anymore. They were contractions 100%.
When we got home, I ran Emma a bath to make her a bit more comfortable, still keeping a tab on the frequency and length of the contractions. I checked the hospital bag to make sure we had everything ready. The contractions were around every 4-5 minutes and I realised just how quickly things were moving. And I remember pausing for a moment and becoming aware of how calm I was. There was no mad rush panic or debilitating sense of anxiety about the whole thing (thankfully!).
At around 4pm, I made that call. The ‘My wife is in labour’ call. They wanted to speak to Emma, and advised us to come in even though her waters hadn’t broken. I still can’t quite believe how calm I felt. Although perhaps I had so much else to concentrate on that I didn’t have time to worry or panic or anything like that. The football was already set to record because I didn’t know how long we’d be out for lunch, so at least I didn’t have to worry about that! *Cue Em rolling her eyes reading that sentence
When you’re told to go to hospital, everything speeds up even more. Even though you might feel calm, it feels like you’ve suddenly got a million and one things left to do. One final check of the bag, okay maybe three, ask someone to come and feed the dog, put towels down in the car, help Emma downstairs and into the car, lock the door, ‘have I got everything?’
Hospital (Part 1)
Arriving on the ward was a surreal moment. You see on TV programmes and films the moment where the couple is walking down the corridor. Now that was me. That was me walking with a big bag hanging off my shoulder, holding my wife’s hand as she squeezed it through another contraction halfway down the corridor.
We were shown into a small assessment and asked to wait while a midwife finished delivering another baby. Oh. My. God. The. Noise. You know the scenes where a couple are sat in a room, and then they hear another woman giving birth, and the screaming and the yelling, and it frightens the life out of them? Yeah, that was us. I’ve never heard a sound like it. She honestly sounded like a baby. I wondered if the baby had been born, because the cries were so similar. But it was the mum, she was still pushing. I’ll never forget that sound.
As we waited, Emma’s contractions became much milder and less frequent. They were now every 7-9 minutes and I was starting to think this could be a long, long night. After all, Emma’s mum was in labour for 29 hours with her! A midwife came along, timed the contractions and recommended we go home. I knew it was the right thing to do, because the contractions had settled down so much, but it was so deflating. Going from thinking ‘this is it, we’re going to hospital and we’re going to come out with our baby’ to leaving empty handed an hour later was hard to take. We were both really quiet on the way home. I remember hoping that it would happen later that night. I didn’t want to have that excitement and then have to wait a few days.
Home (Part 2)
We got home around 6pm and anticipating a long, tiring night, Emma went for a lie down in bed, hoping to get a bit of sleep. That left me with some time to have some food and put the football on.
I made sure to check on Em regularly. She’s a stubborn woman who rarely accepts she needs, or asks for, help. So I checked in often to see how she was feeling and how the contractions were. Every time she said they were dying down, but still uncomfortable.
I carried on watching the football, and shortly before full-time, Em emerged from a nap. She’d barely eaten all day so I encouraged her to eat something and she reluctantly had a bowl of berries. She bounced on a gym ball I’d bought for her a few weeks prior, keen to stay active and speed things up. Coincidentally, just as the final whistle went (Chelsea beat Man Utd, which put me in an even better mood!) at around 8pm, the contractions started to intensify again.
Emma is allergic to most common pain relief, so the only thing we had to help was a TENS machine. It’s a machine that sends small electric currents through four pads placed on the mid and lower back to help contract the muscles and alleviate pain. It may or may not be super fun to try out on your arms, as well, not that I did………
The contractions were back to every 3-4 minutes really quickly, and more intense than earlier when we went to hospital first time around. Emma was reluctant to go to hospital initially, in fear of being sent home again. But by 8:30, I knew it was time to go. She pleaded for another 30 minutes, but I made the call again. Her waters still hadn’t broken, though. That was until the very moment the midwife asked if they had. It wasn’t what I expected at all! I expected something very similar to…well, water. Turns out it’s not like that at all.
So there we were, ready to go to hospital for a second time. I had the same sudden feeling that I had a tonne of things left to do.
I held Emma’s hand the whole car journey. We weren’t being sent home this time. We knew this was it. Our little boy was coming to meet us.
That’s all for part 1! I’ll upload part 2 tomorrow.
I’m running Cardiff 10K for the second time in September, aiming to raise £300 for Mind. I really appreciate any donation you can spare, no matter how small. You can find my JustGiving page here.