It’s a rare event when you read that a dad had no choice but to deliver his own daughter. It’s not something that happens everyday and it’s not something that I’d wish to go through again in a hurry.
When I think about being a dad and parenting the first thing that pops into mind is
Whenever I recall the experience I always find myself thinking if it really happened. Was it real? Did I really do that? Was it just a really scary dream?
For us, my wife and I, we discussed all the permutations of each different type of birthing plan and we agreed that a hospital birth was right for us. We wasn’t opposed to having a home birth but she had gone through a very difficult pregnancy and we didn’t want to take any additional risks by being at home.
A cold Thursday morning
My story started on a chilly Thursday morning. It was 4.15 am and we were ready. My wife had prepared our bags weeks in advance and I had the route to the hospital figured out.
I expected to be woken up, so I had purposely kept a night-light on to keep my sensors alert. As I helped my sore wife climb off the bed and into the bathroom everything seemed so laid back, so routine.
Only 2 years ago we had our first child so we had an idea of what to expect.
What happened next would rock my entire world, have me paralyzed with fear and put us both through an emotional rollercoaster that we’ll never forget.
A chilly start to the day
It was a cold Thursday morning in march. It felt colder then most nights. This was probably because we both had been sleeping intermittently over the past few weeks in anticipation of our new baby.
Everything was prepared, bags, routes, snacks etc. We were just waiting for baby to give us the head start. Little did we know that we would never get it!
At around 4am I helped my wife climb gently out of the bed and into the bathroom. She seemed agitated and I was very sensitive to her needs. Only 2 years ago I had witnessed, first hand, the intense pain she suffered with our first baby at hospital so I knew my role was just to be supportive whatever the outcome.
I had a good experience of roughly what to expect. At least I thought I did! What happened over the next 60 minutes would change my life forever, albeit in a positive way.
I didn’t time the contractions!
We both knew that baby was coming soon. My wife had been waking up in the middle of the night randomly for 3 days straight and was getting more uncomfortable by day.
However, on this night when she got up, she stayed up for over an hour and I realized that something more intense was happening.
Walking with my eyes half closed and half open, I stumbled in the living room and saw my wife on her exercise ball rotating in circles left and right.
I asked her how long she’d been up for. She replied over 2 hours. I was shocked. I had been purposely sleeping light so that I could time contractions and I’d missed the first 2 hours. I felt like I’d let her down, but she assured me that she hadn’t had too much and that they were over 30 minutes apart.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
I instantly armed myself with my stopwatch and began to purposefully time contractions. I was shocked when they moved from 30 minutes to 10 minutes and then 5 minutes apart so quickly.
We had been assured by our hospital that evern when contractions when only a few minutes apart we shouldn’t leave to go. They gave us a number to call and we were instructed to call it and speak with a midwife first. She would then assess my wife and give us the all clear to come in.
We stuck to this advice and just waited for the contractions to be more regular and slightly closer together before we called in.
We missed our slot!
Everything was moving in the right direction. As my wife’s contractions become closer together, were longer in duration and had lasted for over an hour I decided to call the hospital.
Unfortunately the number just rang out and I didn’t have a backup. In my haste to get things right I had written down the wrong hospital number and while I scrambled to find the right one my wife let out a painful shriek of intense pain.
Things were moving on much faster then we had both first anticipated and we had to think fast.
Her contractions had gone from 5 minutes apart to 2 and they were lasting for well over 1 minute each time. All of a sudden she dropped to her knees in agony and I could see water gushing down her legs. Her water had broken, all at once, and this baby was coming NOW!
We had missed our slot, there’s was no time to jump in the car. Even with the hospital being less then 10 minutes away in a car, I couldn’t’ take the risk. We were having this baby at home, one way or another.
A tardy ambulance service
I instantly called the emergency services. I started to panic a little. Things had escalated from bearable to excruciating in matter of minutes for my wife and I stood there powerless to help.
They operator assured me that the ambulance was on their way and that they would be there soon. I breathed an instant sigh of relief. There was no way I could do this all by myself.
As my wife caught her breath in between contractions I started to follow the instructions of the operator.
“Lay your wife on her back and grab some pillows and towels for support”
Perfect, I thought, this is something I can do.
Then she asked to collect a “clothes peg and a piece of string”
I remember thinking that these seem rather odd and a bit ridiculous, but I was in no position to question it so I did what I was told. As I fought through the cupboard to find a piece of string I remember getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach like something was wrong. Why would I need to get these random objects and how close was the ambulance!
As I started to get more paranoid I continued ask how close the ambulance was. I could see my wife getting anxious by my repeated questions and I quickly remembered that my anxieties can easily rub off on her.
I instantly stopped asking so many questions and decided to point my attention to helping my wife feel as relaxed as possible. This wasn’t the cool, calm and collective labor she had desired in a reliable hospital within a comfortable birthing suite.
It was at home in the middle of the living room floor and my job was to keep her in the most relaxed state possible. I dimmed the lights, lowered my voice and gentle asked Google to “Play waterfall sounds”
The operator asked me to check to see if the “baby was crowing”. Luckily I had fund time toread the baby books so I did understand what to look for.
When my wife separated her legs and I slowly took a look, it didn’t take an expert to see that the baby was in fact crowing. I was shocked, my wife was exhausted and I kept thinking “when will the damn ambulance get here!”
I remember reading that Active labour takes about 8 hours and that it can still take a few hours after that for baby to arrive.
However, my wife had gone through active labour In about 30 minutes and this baby was ready to arrive into the world, with or without a professional in the room!
As I crouched there next to my wife in complete disbelief about what was about to happen, in complete shock and fear, I remember thinking to myself this can get any more stressful.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere the living room door TEARS OPEN and my 2 year old son bombards his way in. He had been sleeping during this entire ordeal and finally woke up after hearing all the commotion.
He took one look and mummy and another at me and then shouted out “JUICE JUICE” (which is his way of asking for something to drink)
I remember thinking to myself; you have GOT TO BE JOKING. I flew to the kitchen, picked up his sippy cup and sternly sat him on the table. It was the absolute worse timing.
Just then my wife let out a loud grunt and high pitch squeal at the same time. “She’s coming, I’m pushing now”.
I braced myself for what was about to happen. I gave her one hand for support and had the other free to catch baby.
The next few seconds are a little hard to describe. I remember being a witness to my actions and just letting go. I listen to the operator give out final instructions, supported my wife in any way she asked and ready myself to see our baby for the first time.
It didn’t take very long and after a few pushes, baby’s head, shoulders and body popped out.
I burst into tears of absolute elation but at the same time froze paralyzed with fear of something going wrong. It’s a difficult emotion to describe feeling absolutely joy and being extremely distressed at the same time.
I quickly cleaned of baby and made sure she was wrapped up warmly in some towels.
I congratulated my wife for giving birth to such a beautiful baby girl and praised her for doing it all without no pain relief whatsoever!
She is the strongest woman I know and I routinely remind her of this life changing ordeal she went though.
The ambulance is here!
Moments later the bell goes off and the paramedics arrive. I remember breathing an instant sign of relief but also thinking to myself, “why did you take so long!”
As they walked in, all smiles, one says to me, “Ah, great! You’ve done all the hard work for us”
I smirked and thought to myself, that’s really not funny!
I asked them why they took so long but they said they had come as soon as they got the call. It really wasn’t there fault to be honest. My wife had gone through active labor so fast that there was no way they could have reached us in time.
They quickly checked baby over and gave here the all clear. We then grabbed a few last minute things and headed straight to hospital.
Our baby weighed 6 pounds and 2 ounces and was a perfect addition to our growing family. We were both relieved to hear that she was perfectly healthy
My experience has taught me that you can never really be too prepared for childbirth. Take some time and read the baby books or do some independent research. Try to keep your mind open and options open as my story certainly illustrates that you anything can happen.
Remember that even if you have a plan, it can change and try and stay calm if things don’t go how you expect them to. My experience can hopefully inspire other dads to get more involved during pregnancy and labor.
Lastly. It’s important to read the baby books! Not just for birth but for discipline and parenting techniques.
You can’t always be in control of every situation and I’ve learnt that sometimes you have to just let go and keep the faith!
If you feel like this story touched you please feel free to leave a comment!