The Hospital and Birth – A Dads Perspective

The Hospital
For me this is when life with a new-born really started, although Ezra was still blissfully tucked away, completely unaware of the outside world, mummy and daddy where already having sleepless nights. I’ve probably made that sound much more dramatic than it really was but the week leading up to Ezra’s birth felt like the longest week in history. This was due to a multitude of things, lots of trips to the hospital with reduced movement, Chantelle, the amazing mother of our little Ezra struggling to get comfortable at night, but I think what really caused us the most stress was that Ezra arrived six days late. Every day we’d expect something to happen and it didn’t, I’d be sat at work unable to think of anything else, but still the little munchkin made us wait. We ended up being called into the hospital and Chantelle was induced, I thought great, job done we’ll be in and out within the night, just a quick note to all expecting dads, it’s never that simple. At first, you’re filled with a great excitement, we’re finally here, it’s actually happening at last. Then for me at least the worrying kicks in, all these doubts creeping forward, what if I’m a terrible father? What if something goes wrong? These thoughts are the result of our human emotions, having a child is one of the most life changing things we can experience, of course we’re going to have irrational thoughts, just roll with them and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Once the initial worrying stage has passed it’s onto good old waiting around for something to happen, the nurses bless them tried multiple methods to speed along Ezra’s arrival but he’s as stubborn as his parents and refused to budge. During all this hanging around there’s lots happening that we can’t really see, lots of tests on Chantelle to make sure she and Ezra are okay, lots of talking and lots of noise. Perhaps it’s just me but I didn’t feel very welcome, you’re probably wondering what I mean by that aren’t you? Well in truth the nurses priority is mother and baby, that’s how it should be in my opinion but the father is not even on their radar. As I touched on earlier we as dads are going through many different emotions right about now, we’re trying to stay strong for our partners, trying to ease their worries but who eases ours? I’ve probably come across quite selfishly there, why should I be thinking of myself at a time like this? Well dads, the truth is you’ll need support as well, luckily for me Chantelle had already thought ahead and arranged for two birthing partners, me and her sister Leighanne (she’s good like that). I’d advise if you’re nervous to possibly arrange something similar, it could be another family member, a close friend, anyone who puts both parents at ease. See I learned this next point quite quickly, nothing happens very fast when nobody’s relaxed, having that extra person there to crack jokes and discuss any worries you may be having can sometimes make all the difference.

Eventually and after many tea’s, coffees and idle chat certain things started happening, just my luck then that everything happened when I was sat in the hospital cafeteria stuffing my face. We’d been waiting for 18 hours for Ezra to give us a sign that he was preparing to depart but still no arrival seemed imminent so Chantelle had been given some strong pain relief and while she slept I’d gone to get some food. It’d been so long since I’d last eaten I wasn’t sure if it was breakfast, brunch or dinner that I was eating, all I know was that it cost a fortune and I was so nervous I could barely eat anyway. This is perhaps another tip I’d give to expecting dads, as hard as it may feel at the time, don’t forget to eat, Chantelle needed all her strength and energy for what was to come but so did I, especially for what came next. Upon entering the ward once more I immediately knew things had changed and we where entering another stage, Chantelle was absent and the bedsheets where in the process of being changed, her waters had broken. Again, que the panic, all I wanted right then was to find her, make sure she was okay and discuss our next steps with a nurse. In the future if we’re lucky enough to have other children I don’t think this would’ve been half as nerve wracking but right then I could’ve floated away with all the butterflies filling my stomach. When checked over it transpired that Chantelle was 5cm dilated and we needed to get her down to the birthing ward, now here’s when things get interesting, in the twenty minutes it took to get her down to the birthing room she went from 5cm to 8cm dilated. At one point even the midwives weren’t sure if we’d have time to get her into the birthing pool, however the situation calmed down pretty quickly once in the room and ready for delivery, Ezra just wanted us on our toes. Over the next six hours Chantelle progressed through active labour, me and Leighanne doing our best to calm her, offer encouragement and work alongside the midwives when needed. I could describe these six hours in so many different ways but I’d never be able to give the situation justice, so I’ll simply call it a magical experience. My overriding fear as a dad was that something was going to go horribly wrong, that’s my partner, my little baby there fighting his way into this world, I remember offering more than a few silent prayers for everything to run smoothly. Our midwife was absolutely incredible and along with Leighanne kept my and Chantelle relaxed, well as relaxed as humanly possible when experiencing child birth. I must’ve looked white as a ghost because about three hours in the midwife turned to me and asked if I was okay, she said I looked like I would faint. Believe it or not I’d prepared for this, I think the dads out there will be surprised how strong they can be when the time comes, nothing could’ve put me down. Now, the real hero here is Chantelle and all the other mothers going through child birth, by now she had been pushing hard and simply couldn’t push any further, it was time for the suction cup. There’s probably a really scientific name for the instrument used to pull Ezra his last few inches into the world but suction cup sounds much cooler. One thing to prepare for dads is that your baby may arrive shocked and by shocked I mean a little lifeless. By this point I was already in tears, I’m not even ashamed to admit it, a grown man bursting into tears, that feeling when you see your baby for the first time is something I simply cannot put into words. Of course I thought because Ezra was shocked something was wrong, he only needed warming up that’s all. I’d advise in situations like this to just let the professionals do their jobs, within minutes they had Ezra warm and I was holding him in my arms, at a loss for words.

Once Chantelle was stitched up and had been checked over we spent the next hour getting to know our little baby boy. Make the most of this time because it’s truly precious, I don’t say that lightly either, we are the first people our babies see, enjoy those first moments of bonding, it’s a traumatic experience for them as well as us, they’ll be looking for the love and care only a parent can give. Me and Chantelle will treasure this time forever, it’s also when all the learning starts, straight away you’re fascinated by all the little movements they make, perhaps you’ll here that first cry as well.

Now, moving forward a few hours, once all the initial meeting between baby and parents has taken place you’ll be faced with a choice, breast feed or bottle feed. A lot of you will probably already have made that decision before entering the hospital and in some ways we had as well. It had been our plan for Ezra to breast feed and if we really couldn’t get him to latch, we’d resort to bottles. I want to put it out there that no matter how much pressure is put on you from pre-birth groups, midwives, even relatives, it’s okay to bottle feed your baby. After eight straight hours on and off we couldn’t get Ezra to feed naturally, but he had no trouble whatsoever latching to a bottle. I know Chantelle felt guilty and like she’d somehow failed at the first hurdle, I’ll say the same thing to you I said to her, don’t be so ridiculous. After everything she’d been through and she thought she’d failed, I couldn’t believe it, it’s at this point dads that we should reassure our partners and give them a gentle reminder of what they’ve just accomplished.

I’m going to end this post on a lighter note of childbirth, your babies first poo, after many sleepless nights and the effort you’ve put into birthing your baby or babies, this is sure to brighten your day. We had no idea Ezra had even pooped, but let me tell you we could’ve laid down new roads with what came out his bottom, it’s like the stickiest tar substance ever created. It took both of us to change him and at the time was pretty eye opening, looking back now we can’t help but laugh though, it’s amazing how quickly you adapt.

As always I hope you’ve all enjoyed my blog post everyone, feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you’ve got questions or something you’d like me to discuss.

Adam

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