Having a baby is an amazing experience. Having a baby is a joyous experience. I just don’t see why the Mum has to get all the glory.
I’ve sat through two births and it’s always the same; everyone jumping about fussing over the mum. I sat there gasping for a cup of tea for 2 hours once until I managed to flag down a passing midwife carrying a cup into the staff break room and grabbed it off her. Where was the smile and the encouraging pat of the hand then? All I got was a face of thunder and massive TUT!
The first time was the scariest, we had no idea what was going on as all first timers don’t, and so were completely at the whim of the midwives. Sadly we were at a seriously under performing hospital with some quite scary staff so their whim was perhaps not the best to be under.
After nearly a week of listening to my wife complain of a mild tummy ache which she expected everyone to jump up and down about – I have no idea why, it’s not as if it was all the time she just kept getting it now and again. At first I’d been sympathetic, rubbing her back and tweaking up the amps on the TENS machine until the streetlights outside had started to dim and the people of Harrow were beginning to complain. I’d fetched her drinks and patted her hair. I’d done the housework and made tea and only made one small mistake after completely misreading a signal from Jo about going to bed early. After the fourth day though It had started to get a bit dull. The tummy aches were a bit too regular now and the TENS machine had melted. We had been back to the Maternity Ward twice and after some muscle bound rugby playing woman, in a very disappointing nurses outfit, had groped about for a moment we were thrown out in disgrace told in no uncertain terms not to come back until the baby was coming.
How were we to know when that was? All we knew was that Jo had reached the point where every other word was un-printable and I could barley hear the T.V. over her saying them. I just thought it would be nice for her to get a bed at the hospital and give me a call when it’s ready, but no I was ignored on this yet again. One last phone call to the ward at 2 in the morning where Jo actually said something on the lines of eating all the midwives first born if they didn’t get this baby out of her tonight and reluctantly they let us in. I think we got there about 3.
We were shown through to a room and left there to stew. There was a jug of water but looking around I could only see one cup. I figured that I’d ask the midwife for a cup for Jo later. 15 minutes later a fiercely unimpressed lady came in huffing. She had instantly assumed we were messing her about and stopping her from getting on with her job. On went the glove and with a yawn, up went the hand. Just as quickly the hand came out and with a look of horror she cried “why’d you leave it so late?”
From there on in it was fast. Equipment came in and was strapped on and I never got chance to ask for a coffee even though it was the middle of the night and I was tired quite frankly. I stood by Jo’s head lovingly mopping her mildly perspiring lady brow as she smiled at me with a mixed look of gratitude and love for nearly a second before I realised that I was in the wrong room. Back in Jo’s room the scene was a bit different. Jo had become the Gruffalo and not very children’s book friendly one either. Meanwhile the midwife had become the bossiest women on the planet. My understanding of the fathers role being to stand at the clean end shouting encouragement was to be dispelled very fast.
“You hold her foot tight NOW” shouted the midwife. There I was stood holding a foot in exactly the worst view point possible – I could see everything! The nurse stood holding the other screaming and contradicting herself, “Don’t push, push, hold her leg here, and hold her leg there” Meanwhile Jo was blaming me for pretty much everything. I was close to cancelling the whole thing and going home to be honest. My lovely wife started making a point of kicking with the leg I was holding giving me a fairly nasty bruise on my side which smarted a bit. I raised this with the midwife but yet again there was no paracetomol available for the father – typical. At this point a second midwife sauntered in wearing what looked like a baseball catcher’s mitt. She stood at the end of the bed with her arms resting on the bar looking very much like this was exactly what she had in mind. I was quite worried by this. I’d seen the video of childbirth in the ante-natal classes, I knew it wasn’t like Alien as I’d previously believed but I couldn’t remember the baby coming out so fast that a ‘catcher’ was needed that far back. What was it they had seen on that scan? Was John Hurt going to come into this after all?
I was just about to mention that I thought I’d left my car lights on and ought to go check when there was a shout of triumph from midwife number 1. Looking down there was a face. A gorgeous, amazing face. In no time at all there was a baby boy. There was some other stuff too but frankly I decided to ignore that. I was numb, I was knackered and I was a father. My wife who had been lying on a bed throughout sucking the life out a loopy gas canister happily allowed everyone to heap praise on her. Jo never once offered to let me have a lie down or think to ask me if I was OK. I noticed this carry on throughout the day too, much to my annoyance. Never mind though, let the ladies have their day of attention I suppose. We men will just have to live with it, it’s a harsh fact but there you are. That baby is now 7 and worth every moment of the unrecognised hardship that I personally endured that week.