I did a thing

I did a thing

OK, Zoe did most of the work, but I contributed.

Our birth story is not remarkable, probably not very different to many other peoples' but it's special to me and it was the most terrifying few days of my life. Which is weird because nothing really went wrong it's just that nothing went particularly right.

We had a plan. Most couples have a plan for how they expect the birth to go, it's encouraged, it's even in the badger app. [1] We wanted a water birth, we did not get one. Luckily step one of our plan was 'be flexible' because oh boy did we flex.

I'm writing this on the 23rd of February 2024 and my daughter was born on the 22nd. She was due on the 7th of March. In one of our last scans it was noticed that our girl's growth had fallen below the expected curve by an amount that had them worried. They decided she'd need to be delivered early. Not overly early, she was already at 37 weeks which is considered 'term' so it wasn't scary it was just ... unexpected.

We were due to be admitted onto the ward for an induction on what turned out to be our daughter's birthday but last weekend she gave us another scare. This time by not moving all day. That had us in the hospital getting things checked right away because that's a scary moment. She was fine (and went back to her normal wriggling at 1am that morning) but the doctor said 'we wanted to induce because there was one thing that worried us, now there's two, so we're just going to admit you today'.

Just like that Zoe was on the ward and we'd started induction but that takes a long, long time. It's also subject to the whim of emergencies cutting the queue infront of you because they can somewhat manage it. A few days of hanging out in the ward followed. Zoe's sister came and visited which was honestly a god send. She's a mother of two herself and a nurse so she was in her element. She basically stayed with Zoe the whole time. With the notable exception of the day we gave her keys to our home and sent her to our place to get some goddamn sleep! The ward stay was uneventful but hardly relaxing. Then, things began to happen.

On Wednesday about 11pm we were moved from the ward to the delivery suite. Because of the reasons we were there the midwives wanted to monitor baby throughout so monitors were wired up to Zoe. She was also put on a hormone drip. And another drip for the pain management drugs. Oh and a nasal canular for oxygen as her saturation dropped a bit. If you've ever been present for a woman's labour you'll know that if your ideal vision is a water birth and your reality is being wired to a monitor, a drip in each hand, a tube up your nose and machines beeping and rumbling all around you then that's pretty much the exact opposite.

I won't take you through all the gory details of what happened for the next eight hours but suffice it to say I hated it. I don't do great with seeing people I love in pain and that's what I was seeing. Pain for a good reason but pain nontheless. It didn't help that I hadn't slept well the night before, or any night this week.

It wasn't all bad though. There were moments of amusement that will live with me forever. The drugs were good drugs. Zoe on occasion would burble the kinds of things only someone very, very high would say. I'll never forget the way the midwife would lean in listening intently when she heard her start to speak, her face contorted in concentration as she tried to decipher what was being said and then morphing into a look of utter confusion when she heard what it was. For example I distinctly remember Zoe saying, slurred and soft, how glad she was our bathroom lights didn't work. [2] When the midwife would hear these things she'd unfailingly look to me and baby's auntie to see if we could make any sense of it. We couldn't.

Hours later, with everyone in the room exhausted, we had a daughter. There was screaming, tears, blood, tense moments and laughs and in the end there was a baby girl.

For her first hour our daughter lay on Zoe, skin to skin. [3] This is an important bonding moment between mother and daughter. After that 'golden hour' though the midwives really needed to see to my partner who had undergone the kinds of physical trauma you might expect when a whole human being emerges from inside you. So the baby was put on me.

Confession time. While there's a lot about being a parent that scares me my biggest fear was at all times that I wouldn't ... want to be. If that makes sense? I mean I wanted to be a parent but I don't like babies. I'm uncomfortable around them. People coo and I am unmoved. I just didn't 'get it' when people talk about babies. So when they put this tiny, fragile, purple blob of person on me I was filled with fear that I wouldn't feel anything.

Reader, if you feel like I did you'll also react like I did when someone tells you 'it's different when it's yours' but, well, it is.

Within three hours of being alive my daughter freely urinated all over me and within three hours of her being alive I didn't care.

  1. if you know, you know, if you don't know then you're probably wondering what the fuck badgers have to do with this. I'm not telling you. ↩︎

  2. They do, I don't make her piss in the dark ↩︎

  3. Another thing I'll never forget was Zoe looking at our daughter as she was put on her chest and saying 'how are you real?' ↩︎