Part 1 - A Father's Day tale begins...
Updated: Jun 23, 2019
Written by Kaz Layton.
It was Thursday night, we were just about to head to bed. Nicki was around 10 days overdue but from everything we’d read this was totally normal and we weren’t at that point ready to ask for any sort of intervention. She was getting more uncomfortable but had been resting and everything seemed under control. I knew from our birth preferences we had agreed that intervention was only something Nicki wanted to consider if we were well overdue or in case of emergency. That night was the first time throughout the whole pregnancy Nicki had expressed any concerns. “What if they’re in the wrong position or breach?”… “I can’t feel them moving as much, should we call someone?….” These were all questions she asked and I listened with full attention and responded in a calm manner (thanks to hypnobirthing guidance!).
Thankfully this was something I was expecting and to me it was a sign that things were going to start happening pretty soon. I suggested Nicki messaged our hypnobirthing instructor and Doula, Jane, who advised she drink a cold glass of water and if there were any concerns at all then to contact our midwife. The cold water seemed to do the trick and bump started having a little wiggle around which calmed our nerves and meant we were back to business as usual.
We’d elected for a home birth, which was something Nicki was set on from pretty early on. Which I wasn’t going to question however it wouldn’t have necessarily been something I would have considered. It helped we hadn’t had a complicated pregnancy so we didn’t see the need to have a hospital birth. It is totally understandable why people want to go to hospital as many feel much more at ease having the medical professionals right next to them and one of my biggest understandings about having a baby is you need to be in the place where you feel most comfortable. Having done our research and meeting with the community midwives it was the right choice for us to try for a home birth. It is never something I would want to force upon someone but honestly, being in our own home despite it being pretty small, really helped to keep the lead up to the birth calm. We knew we weren’t going to be rushing into the car, there was a hospital bag packed just in case we had to go in but otherwise, in our minds, we were ready to set up in our own surroundings.
But back to the Thursday night! Before we drifted off to sleep (and thinking the inevitable was just over the horizon) I was doing a mental count of all the things we had/needed – where was the checklist we had of things I needed setting up? Was the birthing pool in quick reach? Had I done enough practice runs with the pool? (they were quite fun, basically having a big bath in your living room!). It was all pretty simple stuff but you can’t help but run through it in your mind, especially for your first birth I think.
Friday morning came around pretty quickly, I’d slept the whole way through (thankfully) and Nicki was fast asleep next to me. As always I crept out the room to get ready for work, had a shower, suited up and went back in to give her a peck on the cheek and head off for the train.
Nicki stirred and asked “Where are you going?”
“Work.” I said.
“I don’t think so. I’ve been having contractions since 3am.”
As much as in that moment I wanted to be running around screaming YIPPEE it’s finally begun I couldn’t help but say, “Why did you let me get dressed for work then?!” We laugh about it now but that was a moment where I could have received a smack in the chops for my cheek 😊
So Nicki messaged our Midwife and Doula we sat around for a few hours timing surges (contractions) in this little book.
It seems silly now but it’s nice being able to look back in the book and see how we were getting on. I know you can get apps and honestly it’s probably a whole lot easier than searching for a pen every few minutes but I’m rubbish with tech and I don’t think we even thought about it at the time. To start with the surges were pretty far apart but soon started to speed up and we thought we were onto a winner. I think I even joked that if she could have it all wrapped up by 6pm we could have a decent bedtime.
Now one of the cardinal rules you’ll learn is NOT to joke around during the labour but we were pretty early days and Nicki was in good spirits so I knew I was on safe ground. If in doubt keep quiet but actually having a laugh early on can help move the labour along, so if the situation is safe enough and you think your partner is in the right frame of mind then don’t feel the need to be totally serious all of the time!
I kept Nicki fed, watered and watched for signs of any sudden changes. A lot of people rightly focus on the woman and the fact they are doing all of the heavy lifting on this one but through the hypnobirthing course we’d taken they really took the time to explain how important the role of the birth partner was.
If the woman is doing the heavy lifting then you as the birth partner are their crew. Think of it like supporting someone in a marathon, get fluids down them even if they don’t particularly feel like it, check when the last time they ate, check when the last time YOU ate, you do the thinking for them and let them get on with the hard graft. That was one thing that really struck me going into the birth is how important a role you play as the partner. You don’t always understand what is going on but you should know what the birth preferences are and try and follow them as much as you possibly can.
Part 2 coming next week…