Given that it was the arrival of our daughter that prompted me to start writing, it seems only sensible to start there…
Throughout our pregnancy, our little bump had been troublesome, with repeated episodes of reduced movement. This culminated in another visit to the pregnancy assessment unit (PAU) after 41 weeks – which resulted in the decision to induce labour.
From my perspective, this wasn’t all that bad. We knew that baby was on the way and it took some of the panic out of the process. However, nothing prepared me for having to leave Mrs Heatho on her own in the hospital with the process having started. Coming home to a dark, empty house (the dog had already gone to stay with friends) was a horrible feeling. Even after a full day helping Mrs Heatho walk around the hospital, solve puzzle book after puzzle book and generally kill time – I still had to go home for a second night as nothing had progressed. By this point, Mrs Heatho was contracting but her waters couldn’t be broken, so it was even harder to leave.
I’m not sure people always remember the father, for obvious reasons, but it’s important to remember that leaving your wife and unborn child in hospital is difficult. Knowing that, if something were to happen you aren’t right there, or even just knowing that there is nothing you can do for either of them to help is a harsh reality of induction. Remember Dads-to-be; if you get even a bit of rest, you will be much more helpful at crunch time than being completely wiped-out – it’s worth getting what rest you can.
In my case, I made it home and into bed for about 23.30… and the phone buzzed at 04.30. Mrs Heatho’s waters had broken and she was 2cm dilated – baby was on the way! Mrs Heatho has raced through early labour in the hospital on her own after I’d left – I was horrified that she’d been through it without me there to support her, but frankly the additional rest I managed to get was a big help for both of us as things progressed – even Mrs Heatho agreed!
Arriving at the hospital I was told that Mrs Heatho was now in a labour suite; I walked in and found her in fully established labour and declaring that she was ready to push! This was frankly all too fast!
It all became very real when our little one suffered an episode of bradycardia – a heart rate of 12 is something to worry about. Having barely slept and not eaten, the adrenaline nearly got the better of me. Thankfully I realised soon enough to sit down before I fell down. The midwife team were great, and I was soon back on my feet to coach Mrs Heatho through. For any father-to-be, a piece of advice; talk to the midwives and and be active through the labour. Despite not being the person giving birth I genuinely felt well looked after throughout, which really helped me.
It was only just a little over 3 hours after the waters breaking when I was asked to look to see if we had a baby boy or a baby girl – out beautiful little daughter had arrived! 🤗 It is worth noting here that watching your wife / partner go through labour is hard. Brutal, in fact. I’m sure it is not as hard as going through it yourself (!), but watching anyone you love go through the pain and knowing that all you can do is coach them through it is pretty emotionally challenging, so be prepared for it!
The sense of pride at this point is hard to put into words. I don’t really know what I was thinking as I cut the cord – I just couldn’t believe that our baby was finally here. After everything we had been through in our 12 years together, everything Mrs Heatho had been through in pregnancy and labour, our daughter was here – which is just so exciting! I put on her first nappy, got her dressed for the first time and took her through for all her newborn checks. I just couldn’t take me eyes off her.
Less than 12 hours after her arrival, we were given the all-clear to take our daughter home. The only way I can describe the drive home is that it all felt very “normal”. Despite the fact that everything in our lives had changed forever, I couldn’t escape the feeling that everything felt normal – which I took to be a good thing.
On getting home, we introduced our little one to our spaniel who immediately wanted to shower our daughter in love. By putting the car seat on the floor and letting Fern (our dog) sniff our little girl with very careful supervision, she has taken to being a big sister wonderfully. Our cat is less convinced though I’m sure he will come around!
More stories of our time at home to follow, until next time.