Two weeks after his due date, we welcomed the new boy into the world. He sleeps right now, I currently have baby sick on my shoulder. I’d forgotten about the little things like that. But you don’t mind, because as long as the baby sleeps you don’t care about the various fluids that have been projected onto you like you’re the worlds most unfortunate bullseye. He’s asleep. That’s cool.
Of course, this time around there’s the added element of the original boy (aka “The Boy”). He’s doing all the things that he usually does. He runs around, he looks at things that look shiny and interesting. He turns off the internet and the phone, because apparently he’s sneaky little ninja toddler that if you take your eye off him he’ll disappear.
He’s like Batman in The Dark Knight. Just when you think that you’re talking to someone, giving vital nuggets of wisdom you turn around to find he’s run off somewhere. Except I don’t remember seeing Batman getting himself stuck between a high chair and the wall because he wanted to see if he’d fit.
But that’s not really the point. I wanted to recall (to the best of my abilities) the whole experience of welcoming a child into the world. Except that I wanted to talk about it from the Dad’s perspective and talk about it in actual terms that relate to people. not like in those rubbish little pamphlets they give to dads.
I’ve joked about it in the past, a Dad getting a small piece of paper with “go ask your mother” written on it.
You know what you get? This:
I think my thumb looks weird in this picture….
I mean seriously? How insulting is this? The general consensus that dad’s will only need to know what’s on a fold out A5 piece of paper. Even more insulting is that most of it is website links.
I want to talk about what I went through.
Before I continue I’m not taking anything away from what women have to go through because, frankly, I’m eternally grateful that I didn’t have to push a tiny person out of me. But there are aspects from a male perspective that are often overlooked. I want to address that. But I’ll add a humorous picture or two.
The time came when my wife was scheduled to go into hospital to be induced. At this point the baby was 12 days overdue, my wife being such a good hostess that the little guy didn’t want to come out. Thankfully, we had relatives that the boy could go to, otherwise we’d be have to take him in and try and stop him setting a record for pressing the call help buttons.
So we went in and we waited. And waited. This, I had forgotten about. The amount of time just waiting for people to come or things to happen was surreal. The wife wasn’t in labour at this point so I didn’t feel that guilty about spending a large amount of time on Twitter, busying myself with trying to be witty and taking picture of things that seemed rather odd. If you follow me you might’ve seen some of them, the best of these probably being the toilet roll holders that looked like breasts.
Don’t believe me?
Have a look:
I mean, what were they thinking? Well, I think we all know what they were thinking. How could you not look at the finished product and question why they’ve somehow designed holders that appear to lactate paper? I suppose the maternity ward is the one place where it would work, but it’s not subtle.
The first night, the baby was not forthcoming, and because of the particular hospital I was in, I couldn’t stay after 8pm, so I had to go. I got back to make sure that the boy was still sleeping and that he hadn’t driven his grandmother insane. Her sanity was intact, and I sat down.
It was weird, being in the house and the wife not being there. It reminded me of when the boy was born. The only difference was that he had already been born at the point where I had to go home. That was hard as well. Knowing my family was in the hospital and coming home to an empty house. But this time I was coming home to my first son, so I could busy my feeble brain with being there for him.But my mind always snapped back to the hospital and my eyes were never far from my phone, waiting for a call to say that I could come.
So into day two. The boy was handed over to grandparents again. I got back to the hospital and had the waiting interspersed with buying the most expensive pasties ever from the cafe (seriously, ten quid for two cups of coffee and two pasties?) and strolling past the hospital radio station that had a surprisingly good choice in music. But there was still nothing happening, so I had to leave again.
The boy was still up when I got back, and after he went to bed I got a text from my wife saying that she was officially in labour. I hit the bed and thought I’d get in some sleep while I still could. I was laying in bed, phone in hand, checking the signal and the battery to make sure it was in optimum condition. It probably wasn’t due to the fact that I was checking it every two seconds. I wondered if I would get to sleep at all that night.
Seconds later, I fell asleep.
I was awoken around one in the morning to find that my wife was phoning me. At this point I was still ninety percent asleep and my brain was telling me that she was downstairs, and questioning why she would be calling. After the conversation reality slapped my brain across the head with the dad pamphlet and I kicked into gear. Grandparents were summoned once more and I made my way to the hospital.
The car journey was the scariest one I’d ever had, mainly because it was the heaviest rain I’d ever driven in and, between Port Talbot and Bridgend, there aren’t many lights on the motorway. I got there in one piece, parked, unclenched my buttocks from the hair-raising trip and tried to figure out how to get into the now closed hospital. I got there through A&E, which was surprisingly empty considering it was a Friday night in South Wales.
I got to the birthing room and all the memories for the first time came flooding back. My wife was lying there, gas and air pipe in hand (which despite my the best efforts, they never let me try) and I sat.
It was in moments like this when I felt I could pretty much do nothing. All other times I could get things, go to the shop, let people know what was happening. But when it came to down to it, my wife was having the baby and I couldn’t help.
But then she took my hand and I felt useful again. I told her to squeeze as hard as she wanted. She could break my fingers off and shove them up my nose if it helped in any small way. If it helped, then I was happy with that. I was watching her giving birth and I fell so in love with her all over again. And again. She fucking rocked. At this point my hand had gone from being held to being bitten. I was a man, I could take it. Until she really went for it and I said (and I think this is how you spell it) MMEEAARRRH!
And he was there. The new boy, all kinda purple and crying. You will never forget or experience anything like the first time you see your child. Thinking about it now I remember the exact same feeling of shock of seeing both of them, the feeling of “Oh my god, it’s an actual person” kinda thing.
The next part is when you just sit there and look at him, and take in the last moment of quiet normality you’re going to experience for a fair few years. This point is when the Dad file downloads in your brain. The dad file helps you get your head around the fact that you’re now a father and disables the parts of your brain that gags at the sight of poo or sick or objecting when someone urinates on you. It also alters your way of thinking and your perception of reality. It will makes you think that this child has been with you al your life. This was version 2.0 for me, which is a refreshers course and a resigning of the agreement.
I went home again. I sneaked in a quick hour of sleep and then me and the boy went to see the other half of the family and there we were. Our family of four. That phrase still makes me smile with joy and bewilderment.
We came home and it was like there had been the four of us all along.
So to sum up, if your a man and your going to be a dad, this sort of thing will happen to you. You will travel around, you will keep family members updated. But right at the point of when you other half is actually performing this amazing miracle of nature you will feel useless. You will want to tear open the sky to find the entity that is subjecting the woman you love to the pain that she is going through. But you will be strong for her and as soon as you see the little boy or girl every emotion other than love will drain away. You will be a family.
So there you go.
Next time, stuff about Dr Who. Probably….