If you follow Cath on Twitter, Instagram or this blog (which you should be doing), you'll know me as ‘Mr’ or more recently ‘Husband’. Let me introduce myself properly, I am Dion, nice to meet you. Before I start, I have never written a blog post before so please excuse any faux pas if you are a blogger yourself. Recently Cath and I were talking about Edith’s birth (as we approached her half birthday) and Cath mentioned how there aren’t many birth stories from the man’s perspective (nice hint Cath). Flash forward the conversation and hey presto here I am!
Now some of you who know me better will realise I am not one for sharing (or even acknowledging) my feelings and emotions, but for Cath’s blog I will endeavour to do my best. I am going to be brutally honest, I will probably say some things that others may not agree with and I will also try to offer any advice/ things to watch out for to help any worried, expectant fathers (I am no expert but they are all things I would have wanted to hear).
Here is goes……
It’s about 3 am on the 26th, I notice that Cath is unsettled in bed (not uncommon during pregnancy but this was different) so I asked her what was up and she replied she wasn’t sure but it felt like it could be labour pains. We decided to go downstairs and first port of call was a cup of tea for both of us, so as I made that Cath began to bounce on the birthing ball to alleviate the pain. This continued until 9 am during which time our parents were texted and called. My role at this stage was getting water, the occasional back rub and light humour, the pain at this stage was manageable (Cath’s own words not being insensitive). We decided that it was best to phone the hospital at this stage at they were between 5 and 6 minutes apart. Now you should all know that Cath doesn’t do phone calls (she was in pain so this one made sense for me to call) so I phoned on her behalf. Now listen up and listen good fellas they don’t want to speak to you at the other end of this phone they like to her from the mother, so reassure them that your partner is near you and can’t talk. They will want to speak to them at some point but do as much as you can. They recommended that Cath should take a bath as it would either relieve some of the pain of the contractions, indicating a true labour, or stop the contractions altogether, indicating a false labour, unfortunately for Cath it turned out to be the latter.
Cath was devastated, she began to cry through tiredness and frustration (all you can do chaps is hug and reassure), she was already a week overdue and we were both very impatient at this point. We had already had the midwife booked to come over for a membrane sweep from our last midwife appointment, so we thought it best to ring her and try to see if we could get her to come any earlier, as this can speed the whole process along (can you guess who made the phone call?). The midwife came over around 2pm and performed the sweep, which isn’t pleasant at all for Cath, or squeamish fools like me who try to be supportive (I ended up quite pale indeed). The midwife told us how Cath was 2cm dilated meaning things were going in the right direction. Nothing happened for the rest of the afternoon, just more of the same bouncing, drink, comfort and repeat. We had tea and headed up to bed early as we had been up since 3am.
Then about 11pm Cath wakes me up, the contractions are bad now, unbearable and Cath could barely move. I called the hospital explained that Cath was having painful contractions and we needed to come in. (I could’ve killed the lady at the other end of the phone) Despite explaining that Cath couldn’t speak because she was in too much pain she still insisted on talking to Cath, but not to check if Cath was happy for me to talk on her behalf, but instead to ask her for her address, phone number and about a million other things that I could’ve answered. Finally we were given the all clear to come in, so we rushed to get Cath’s mum and then off to the hospital. People say to plan your route to the hospital, which you absolutely should do, but on the day just get your partner there as quickly and comfortably as you can.
We got to the hospital and walked up to the delivery suite, stopping along the way for contractions. We arrived and were shown to a little room were we had to wait. Cath was swaying side as movement seemed to help with the pain. Eventually our birthing room was ready so we headed into there, Cath’s contractions were so bad and close together that she was permanently attached to the gas and air (no try for me, Cath assures me it is great though). My role at this stage changed between rocking with Cath and rubbing her back to getting music playing and making drinks. During the midwifes checks on the baby she noticed that the heart rate was slower than was ideal so they transferred us over to another room with a monitor in it that was attached to Cath to monitor the baby’s heartrate , it was fine. The midwife also checked Cath at this point and she was 2-3 cm dilated. Cath looked at me distraught, all that pain and nothing had changed since the afternoon. Nothing can prepare you for that moment, when the person you love the most looks to you in agony, tired from a long day and night and says “I can’t do this.” This is the point guys where you realise that there is nothing you can do to help, so you do all that you can do, tell her it will be fine and be there for her.
After a while we were permitted to head back to the birthing room. The baby was back to back, Cath’s mum let out a laugh, turns out Cath was also back to back, it was karma. Cath was advised to go for a walk, but that meant leaving the gas and air and there was far too much pain for Cath to physically do it. They checked Cath’s urine and she had ketones in it (I don’t know either, just smile and nod) basically she was dehydrated. This was a puzzle as Cath had been sipping water all the time, the midwife said that Cath needed to drink more and maybe eat something sweet, I went for malteasers. Cath wasn’t playing along with this as eating and drinking meant no gas and air, this is when I stopped asking her and told her exactly what is happening. “After this contraction you are eating 2 malteasers.” “Next contraction you have a drink of water.” Reassuring only gets you so far, at this point Cath needed decisions taken away from her and told what to do, and she was far too stubborn to listen to the midwife.
All this continued for a while; rocking, back rubs, malteaser, drink. Eventually the midwife brought in some glucose tablets in for Cath as a last effort to get the ketones out or down (again not a clue what they are). This turned out to be a terrible idea! Cath chewed on them and then “I think I am going to be sick.” I reached for a bed pan, but too late. Sick all over Cath. Two bed pans later the sick stops. Now some people reading this may think that they won’t be able to cope with this, but you will. At this point you only care about doing anything to help and make their lives easier, nothing else matters. So we got Cath cleaned up and back to the routine.
Pretty soon it was 6am and time for Cath to get examined again. She was now 6cm dilated, the joy on Cath’s face at that news was a welcome site. About half an hour later as I am cleaning random bits away Cath turned to her mum and said that she thought something had come out. So I had a look and it looked like the waters to me. Cath’s mum pushed the button to get the midwife. She checked the waters and said baby has pooed inside. This meant we had to move back to the medical room as it can be dangerous if baby had swallowed any of the meconium (I think that’s a fancy word for baby poo).
Cath was then hooked back up to the monitor to check on baby’s heart rate, which was now dipping with every contraction so they were concerned. At this point of the evening Cath wasn’t able to listen to what everyone was saying, so I made sure that everything that was said I repeated to her. This is an important job fellas, quite often with so much going on your partner will not be able to focus so they will choose your voice, as it is familiar and trusted and loving. So repeat everything and keep being reassuring and positive. They called a Dr in to check what was going on (she was amazing, had and aura of power and control). The Dr decided that Cath needed an IV as she was still dehydrated. They also put in a catheter and a clip on the baby’s head to monitor the heart rate more accurately. Cath was feeling the urge to push but was only 9cm at the point, so the Dr explained that if she pushed she would damage her cervix and it would end up inflamed and very painful. Cath of course couldn’t understand this so I told her again. The midwife also changed over during all of this. This new midwife, Ana I think, suggested that Cath moved to all fours as it would reduce the stress on her back, this worked for Cath.
After a while they wanted to check Cath again and the baby’s oxygen levels. This meant her going on to her back, Cath refused as it was less painful on all fours, I had to be bossy again “You need to roll over it is for the baby not for you.” After a bit of numbing and a few checks Cath was told that she could push. Not much to say at the point, just repeat what the professionals are telling Cath. I said throughout the whole pregnancy that I would never look, but I did and honestly it was the best thing you can ever see. The monitor they put on babies head was moving further and further out as Cath pushed, I could see the hair on our baby’s head as she got closer to coming out. The most wonderful thing ever, don’t miss out on it I promise you that you won’t regret it. Cath had to have an episiotomy (a cut to make room) and then they used this amazing head sucker thing. Now whenever you see people with new babies or talk to people about it they always talk about being delicate and careful, this Dr didn’t. She yanked on the string of this sucker to pull the baby out, then as the head and shoulders were out another yank with the hands (alongside Cath pushing through contractions) and there was our beautiful baby girl. At this point I am in floods of tears I have just seen the birth of my beautiful baby girl and she is fine and safe, Cath is also fine and no worse for wear.
Let me just leave you with a few final thoughts (very Jerry Springer):
A few things to remember.
- Nothing can prepare you for seeing your partner in that much pain, but it is all worth it.
- Although the hospitals and midwives will only care for your wife and baby (rightly) you are important to your partner. Reassure her, make her drink, rub her back, tell her you love her, make her laugh, repeat whatever the midwives and doctors say and be there for her.
- Don’t make it about you, at any point! Yes it’s an important day for you as well but you have other people to think about.
- Make sure you look! I never thought I would, I am squeamish mess but it’s the best decision I made.
Thank you for reading this blog post, I hope you enjoyed it and you follow Cath.