On the morning of the 8th of January 2017 I was sitting just as I am right now browsing the mundane side of the internet. We had a close friend in the room adjacent to me who had stayed the night so my every intention was to remain as quiet as possible so that they could sleep off their hangover. I nursed my own hangover with a bottle of water and strong cup of tea. At 7:03AM the near silence was shattered when my wife called out in a panic from our bedroom for my immediate assistance. When I opened the bedroom door I saw a wet patch on the bed, on the floor and on the tiles of the ensuite. She sat on the toilet looking at me in anguish... "I think my water just broke!"
Considering our child wasn't due for another 3 weeks I refused to believe it at first. Selfish, I know, after all it was the woman carrying the child that should be able to confidently proclaim whether she is in pre-labour or not. Which is idiotic, since she refused to admit when she was in actual labour. But more on that later.
As she jumped into the shower I readied her a set of clean, loose and unimpressive clothing. I then proceeded back down the other end of the house to calmly wake our guest and alert her of the situation. While she woke herself out of her hangover I hurried back to the room to dress for the day and ready all the components we needed for the hospital. If she was indeed in the early moments of labour then she wouldn't be coming back home. And since this would be considered premature (by a blistering 2 days) the hospital could not let her leave and would in fact induce labour if necessary.
"But what about the baby shower?!" She asked in a panic as she applied a maternity pad. Yes, indeed, what was to become of the baby shower that was meant to occur a few hours from now. As ridiculous as I believe the concept of a baby shower is I had no solid ground in taking such a special event from her, however the situation had now changed dramatically and the baby shower would have to take a backseat.
And just like that, we were rushing out the door, leaving our 2 dogs, 3 adult cats, 1 kitten and a snake alone in the house. Obviously not in the same room. But out of routine, which meant the dogs would go unexercised, the kitty litters would remain full and whatever food they had would have to last most the day until someone returned. Thankfully our guest would stay another night to care for them while my wife and I dealt with the following 24hrs.
It wasn't long after we arrived at hospital that the adrenaline wore off. Since my wife wasn't experiencing any serious contractions it quickly became a waiting game. I sat in the chair next to her hospital bed smug as a bug since I had scored an awesome carpark and was even more delighted by the fact that its free parking on Sundays. I'm fairly certain I'd mentioned it 5 or 6 times to my wife, if only to distract her from the confusion, fear and joy of what was to come. As I mentioned before there would be no returning home for her and she was quickly informed that it could be another day or two before she would actually go into labour. Our child had other plans.
And so did mother. She was determined to have that baby shower! She went into negotiation mode with the nurses and doctors. Every one of them shocked and amazed that a) she was going into labour on the day of her baby shower and b) she still wanted to attend it against doctors orders. She eventually got her way and was released for a very strict allocated time. On a day that was meant for sitting at home with no pants on and playing video games soon turned into me chauffeuring my wife to and from what I can only describe as a clucky gathering of women more excited for the baby than its own mother. It was weird, to say the least.
As soon as I could I rushed her back to hospital, all the time trying to convince her that she appeared to be in labour. That keeping a brave face would serve her no good and the longer she tried to put it off the longer the actual birth would be. This to and fro lasted a number of hours. That was until she was on all fours on the hospital bed begging for painkillers. Fortunately she was allowed a strong dose of codeine, unfortunately it did nothing for the pain and in fact caused her to have the shakes and severe nausea. What made it worse was the fact that the nurses refused to admit she was in labour and informed us that there weren't any doctors available.
So, we started timing the contractions to help our case against the nurses. Don't get me wrong, they were lovely and very helpful but we knew this baby was coming, and it was coming VERY soon. At first they were 5 minutes apart and lasted about 1 minute. Then after she ingested the codiene the timings changed drastically, now they were a couple of minutes apart and lasted almost 2 minutes. I casually asked her what the pain felt like in an intensity out of 10. In her naive and drugged up state she declared it to be a 7 out of 10, not realising just how quickly that would change. Only a few hours later she was a 15 out of 10.
We were moved to a birthing room and she was told to relax. Ha! Relax? And god bless her cotton socks she did try. I drew her a bath and sat by her side during every contraction up until 9PM when the nurses informed us that she was only 1cm dilated (she needed to be 10cm before a child's head could be pushed out of her body naturally) and that she could not have an epidural, which would have been a pleasing relief for her. She was instead allowed a shot of morphine, which unlike the codeine actually helped...for a very short time.
11:17PM came around and my wife was again on all fours on the hospital bed begging for me to do something. I could only follow my instinct and it was telling me that she was about to drop this child from her uterus at any moment. I summoned our midwife to the room who calmly told us that my wife has unlikely gone from 1cm to 10cm in a matter of hours. So she was laid my wife on her back and asked her to open her legs while she examined her. I still remember her face; half way through a sentence involving medical information on the process of labour she stopped dead in her tracks and her face formed a controlled panic expression.
It was go time. This baby was coming. The midwife rushed to scrub up, collect trays and instruments while I sat with my wife who mostly understood what was happening but also feel into a doped up daze between contractions. Within a minute the midwife was ready and demanding my wife push the child. While I truly thought I would be useless in this situation I was later informed that I ensured she was pushing when she had to and resting appropriately between rushes and charges. She did amazingly, until then I always thought of her as a strong individual but I had that redefined with every push she could muster.
At 11:58PM, a mere 2 minutes before midnight, Axel Charles was born into the beautiful and grim world to a very loving and welcoming family. He was tiny, and I mean tiny. 2.1kgs tiny. He passageways were blocked and he had jaundice, so it was safe to say that he wasn't in a good state. Along with him I was rushed to nursery ICU where he was hooked up to all sorts of machines. I stood by feeling useless as these amazing doctors and nurses stablised his condition. Within an hour he was declared safe but would have to remain monitored for the following four days before he was discharged.
As I was on the morning her water broke I sit here at my PC. The only difference now is the baby monitor that sits in front of me. A black and white image of him resting in his cot, sound asleep across from the strongest person I will ever meet. His mother is scared and at times very lost. Re-adjusting her hormones and senses has been a thrill ride. And she reminds me every day that I'm far from useless and that without me, he and she wouldn't be as happy and safe as they feel. So I got that going for me, which is nice.