Fatherhood

Fatherhood

A Story by Stevetaylor67
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My take on becoming a dad for the first time.

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Fatherhood

My take on becoming a dad for the first time

By Steve Taylor

I had just returned from buying yet another pregnancy test to find Angie waiting for me just inside the front door. She definitely feels pregnant this time, definitely feels ‘different’. We have only been trying for a baby for a few weeks and already must have doubled the annual profits of the Clear Blue Company. Angie goes off to the toilet to take the latest test, I sit on the settee and get stuck into a strawberry split ice lolly that I also bought on the latest `test run` ( a box of four lollies for £1, bargain). I had just about finished nibbling the strawberry ice off the sides when Angie returns a few minutes later, test in hand.

‘You’d better have a look at this’

I take the test off her and there is the faintest of lines in the `pregnant` circle, a very thin barely visible line. I immediately recall what the pharmacist had told me when I had bought the very first test a short while ago:

 ‘No line in the pregnant circle does not necessarily mean that you are not pregnant, but a line, no matter how faint, any line at all in the pregnant circle means you are definitely pregnant’.

Oh my, we are pregnant. Angie and I stand and look at each other. I drop my lolly. Me, a dad? How’s that work then? What exactly are you supposed to do when you’re a dad?  The next minute I am at the settee fluffing up the cushions and demanding that she sits down and takes it easy. I am running around and talking at a thousand words a minute. ‘Sitdownwithyourfeetup.CanIgetyou anything?ShouldIcallthedoctorsorsomething?’

Angie, thankfully, is much calmer and more relaxed at this startling news, although we are both shaking like leaves by now. We immediately decide not to tell anyone about the baby until the first three months have passed, that is apparently the ‘done thing’, wait three months. Ten minutes later we have our mobiles in our hands ringing a `select few` people to tell them, i.e.; Angie’s mam and dad, my mam and my sister. Oh yes, and also Angie’s gran and grandad and her two sisters. And her auntie Heather. No one other than that though. Honest.

Our first job was to go to see the doctor. We assumed that was what people were supposed to do but as it turned out there’s no need to bother your doctor with the news that you are pregnant. In fact I wish we hadn’t bothered at all. All that happened there was the doctor said, in a very blasé way:

‘You`re pregnant? Congratulations. The first three months of a pregnancy is the time most miscarriages occur. However, I`ll book you in with a midwife and you`ll get your first scan at about nine weeks’.

We walked out of the surgery a bit deflated after that little speech. I wasn’t expecting the doctor to swing from the rafters at our good news but I wasn’t expecting such an offhand approach either. Actually, I don’t know what I expected, but going by Angie’s dates we only had about four weeks to wait until the first scan.

The big question now was do we want to know what sex the baby is at the scan? We decided no, we would just wait for the birth and it would be a `nice surprise`. In the meantime we started buying bits and bobs in preparation, things for the baby’s room, all in neutral colours of course.

 At the first scan we both watched the screen in fascination as the image of the little person growing inside Angie was displayed for us. We are both adamant to this day that the baby lifted its hand and gave us a little wave - I kid you not. We were given a few photos of the scan pictures and the only definite thing you could make out of the baby was that it had my nose, my rounded ‘Streets of San Francisco’ style nose. Poor little thing.

It was at the next scan, eighteen weeks in, that we were asked if we wanted to know what sex the baby was. We had previously decided that we didn’t want to know, but with the baby on the screen again, in front of us, and the man asking if we would like to know, we crumbled like a house of cards.

 ‘Yes, yes, what is it? Tell me please’! We begged in unison.

‘We can never be 100% sure, I must warn you, I would say that there’s an 85% chance that you’re having a baby boy’.

Oh my God. A boy. I`m going to be a dad and I`m going to have a son. We bumped into Angie’s grandparents after leaving the hospital and Cecil, her grandad, did a little jig around his walking stick when we told them the news. Not a bad dancer for an 84 year old. Anne meanwhile, her grandma, made do with a little whoop of delight. They were over the moon because while having had a great grand-daughter to fuss over for the last five years, Angie’s niece, had been great fun for them they had been hoping for a great grand-son off Angie and I.

Angie has two brothers and two sisters. At this time only one of her sisters had a child, Carmen the five year old, so our baby, if it was a boy, would be the first grandson/great grandson in her half of the family. I have a sister, Vivienne, who has two sons and a daughter, although at this time they weren’t of child bearing age.    

A couple of days later I was in Robbs department store in Hexham having a look at the baby toys, when I got my eye on something just off this section on a large promotional stand: a big red shiny toy Lotus car, just the thing for a baby boy to play with, I thought. I could just imagine his little face light up with joy as he pushed it around the floor pretending to be a stuntman or something.  I was proud as punch walking out with the very first thing I had bought for my boy. It was only when I arrived home and looked at the car again that I noticed the conspicuous lettering plastered across the bottom of the box: ‘Ages three and over �" contains small parts’. Damn. The car was put away for future use.

Over the next few weeks we bought just about every baby book we came across; detailed books about the baby’s progression in the womb right through to books on child development from birth to five years old. Every week, day even, we would each have a baby book of some sort in our hands, pouring over what we could expect and look forward to. This was new to the both of us, the only real experience either of us had with babies in the past had been a spot of baby sitting here and there, although we did famously try looking after Carmen overnight once when she was still a baby, only to fail miserably and have to take her round to Angie’s mams instead at about eleven at night when we couldn’t get her to settle. It was obviously going to be very different being responsible for one 24 hours a day, every day. Gulp.

As time went on, and Angie’s bump got bigger, the classic symptoms of pregnancy kicked in. And I don’t just mean for Angie. Sure, she was getting bouts of morning sickness and backache, but she wasn’t the only one. Some days I was getting out of bed in the morning with chronic pain in my lower back and the only way to ease it somewhat was to stand with my hands on the bottom of my back and stretching backwards, pregnant woman style. Angie didn’t actually get any food cravings, none whatsoever, although she did actually go off eating chicken completely. I, on the other hand, suddenly couldn’t go more than a day without eating some tinned carrots. Not just any old carrots, not fresh ones or anything, they had to be tinned, and preferably tinned baby carrots. Mmm. Weird.

Angie wasn’t sleeping well as the birth date grew nearer, and it wasn’t just because she was uncomfortable with the ever growing bump. She was worried sick about the actual act of giving birth. And who can blame her? There was only so much I could say to reassure her that `it`ll be ok`, I mean, what the hell do I know anyway? Her mother, Joyce, had given birth to five kids and she was as laid back about the `event` as you could possibly imagine.

‘You`ll be fine’ were her simple consoling words.

Our dates for the birth didn’t quite match with the hospitals. They had August 4th 2007 while we, according to Angie’s last period dates and stuff, were looking at July 20th. Still, you can’t really argue with the hospital can you? We were just hoping that it would be sooner rather than later and we were doing all we could to help things along; raspberry leaf tea, to help soften the cervix, according to some of the books, sex, curry’s, bumpy rides in the car up country lanes, you name it, we tried it.

We eventually got around to attending our first ante natal session on July 13th. To be honest it was a bit of a waste of an hour. We didn’t really learn anything we didn’t already now know and we were by far the most advanced in the pregnancy than anyone else in the group. And the woman taking the class kept picking on me. Every time she wanted someone to come forward to help her demonstrate something she pointed straight at me.

‘Would you like to come up front and help?’

‘Me? Erm, well...’

‘Oh come on now, it`s just for a minute’

 And the whole time I’m sitting there feeling really uncomfortable, not wanting to get up and stand in front of all these people at all, Angie`s sitting nudging my arm to help me on my way.

Highly embarrassing, and while I was up there in front of everyone, standing holding two large containers of water out in front of me at one point, it was clear by the looks on the other men’s faces that they were so relieved that it was me up there and not them. We had three more classes over the next three weeks booked, but nature was about to step in and change all that.

On the Saturday night (15th), we were sitting watching the TV when Angie had some sort of discharge (sorry if you’re reading this while having your tea!) Was this her waters breaking? We had no idea. When it happens on the telly its like a great flood of water leaving a huge puddle at the woman’s feet. This was nothing like that. We had been up Shaws Lane again that afternoon (a very bumpy local road/lane in Hexham) in the car in an effort to `help things along`, had it worked this time? I really didn’t know, I was too busy rushing to the phone to ring the hospital.

Yet again Angie was the calmer of the two of us, insisting it was `probably nothing`. I was having none of it though and was through to the maternity ward in seconds. They told us to pop along and they would check Angie over, and it turned out it was a good job we did. The waters hadn’t broken but they had ruptured and the upshot was that if Angie didn’t go into natural labour in the next 48 hours we would have to go to the RVI in Newcastle to be induced. This was it then, one way or another the baby was on his way in the next couple of days. Gulp, again.

We had to wait until Monday morning before ringing the RVI, so on Sunday afternoon we went for a little drive up Shaws Lane again to try and help things along. Sunday night was a night and a half; I don’t think either of us got more than about ten minutes sleep. Angie was really anxious about the birth and my backache had returned with a vengeance. I got up out of bed and had a tin of carrots.

Monday morning dragged like I have never known. We were up with the larks but had to wait until 10am before phoning the hospital. Angie’s bags were in the car and we were ready to shoot off straight down there the minute I got off the phone. There was good news and not so good news in the phone call however, the good news was that yes we were booked into the RVI today, the not so good news was that we weren’t booked in until 2pm this afternoon. Four more hours to kill then. We had pretty much worn the carpet thin with all the pacing we were doing; we were like two cats on a hot tin roof.

My mother and Angie’s mother insisted that I kept them informed of developments, no matter what time of day it was, and I had the feeling that the two of them would have their phones moulded to their hands for the next few hours.

Once finally at the RVI we had a bit of a wait before a midwife finally led us to a ward with half a dozen beds in it, with the only privacy for each bed being a curtain surrounding it. Five of the beds were occupied by women in various stages of pre labour and we joined that list in bed number six. To our shame we can’t remember the name of the first midwife who took care of us, but she was really nice and was at our beck and call whenever we needed her.

At Angie’s first examination, the midwife (I`ll just call her Julie from now on) said she was one centimetre dilated.

‘One centimetre, that’s good then isn’t it?’

Julie just looked at me. ‘It’s going to be a long long night’

‘Why?’

‘She’s one centimetre, she needs to be ten’

‘Well how long will that take?’

Julie just looked at me again, then spoke to Angie; ‘I`m going to give you a pill to induce you Angie honey, and we`ll take it from there’

I had officially completely forgotten everything I had read in all of the books for the last few months.

‘Should I get a glass of water for her or something?’

Julie looked at me, yet again, as if I was a complete novice at all of this and didn’t have a clue what was happening or what I was supposed to do, and she was right. ‘It`s not that kind of pill, this pill gets inserted’

‘Oh’

I’ve just realised that it may sound as if Julie was being a bit ‘off’ with me with the looks I was getting, when in fact I must point out that they were playful kinds of looks, not nasty. Don’t want you getting the wrong idea!

That pill certainly did the trick. Within ten minutes Angie was doubled up in pain, and I mean real pain, real fist clenching, banging the bed, squeezing the blood right out of my hand pain. I tried rubbing her back, then not rubbing her back, pacing round the bed with her, then not pacing round the bed with her. Talk about not knowing what to do or where to put myself. Julie brought the gas and air machine and at last Angie got some relief. She actually fell asleep so I took the opportunity to scarper outside for a cigarette and to ring her mam with the first update.

‘Hello Joyce. She’s one inch dilated’

‘One inch, are you sure about that?’

‘Aye. No, hang on, that’s not right, one centimetre. That’s it, one centimetre dilated. She`s asleep now’

‘Alright, thanks for letting me know’

I made exactly the same mistake when I rang my mam. And my sister.

Angie was awake when I got back to the ward, and still in loads of pain. A nurse then turned up to fix a drip to Angie`s hand and it was suddenly like a Hammer House of Horrors film. The nurse had blood spurting out of Angie`s hand in a great arch when she was trying to insert the needle, and it was splashing everywhere. I`m sure I caught an ‘Ooops’ from the nurse at one point. Ooops? What is this, a carry on film or something? All we needed now was Sid James walking in giving it; `Neyaah Neyaah Neyaah! `

Shortly after this little episode Julie popped in to wish us luck. Her shift was about to end and someone else would be looking after us through the night. The new midwife, a really bubbly black woman called Sasha, checked Angie over, looked at her notes then decided to move us to a delivery suite. I, mistakenly, thought that this meant things were moving along nicely. Little did I know. The delivery suite was a very large room with one thing in particular catching my eye that was for Angie’s use if she wished, to help ease her discomfort: a large rubber-like ball a bit like a space hopper but without the handles, that I was keen to have a go on at some point. The gas and air was having very little effect now and it wasn’t too long before we requested some morphine. Something had to be done, Angie was still doubled up in pain and it really was a horrible feeling not being able to do anything to help her.

As day eventually turned to night things seemed to be moving very slowly. The room had a large TV fixed high on the wall opposite the bed, but neither of us were paying much attention to it. Between frequent bouts of pain Angie was actually falling asleep, exhausted. I was taking these opportunities to nip out for a smoke and was bumping into another dad-to-be on most trips out, his first child too, and it seemed we were both at about the same stage with a very long night ahead of us.

 Just before 11pm Angie asked for her puzzle book then promptly fell asleep holding it. I was shattered as well by now and was just nodding off myself, on a chair next to the bed, when Angie suddenly sat upright and said something completely incomprehensible. She then looked down at her puzzle book, burst out laughing, and fell asleep again. Julie was back examining Angie again at 1.30am. It was 4pm yesterday afternoon, nine and a half hours ago, when she was one centimetre dilated so surely she must be nearly at ten centimetres now, I thought, especially after having that pill inserted. I couldn’t believe it when Sasha repeated what Julie had said earlier;

‘It’s going to be a long night, three centimetres’

Three centimetres?! We were going to be here all week at this rate. The night continued pretty much as it had begun, with Angie falling in and out of sleep lying on the bed, in between heavy puffs on the gas and air which she insisted wasn’t actually doing any good, and me doing the same in the chair. Without the gas and air of course. By 7.30am Sasha had been in to say bye, and to wish us luck. Her shift was over and we couldn’t thank her enough, she had been excellent with us. Sarah took over now, and said she would try to get things moving faster by 9.30am-ish.

When Sarah returned Angie didn’t know whether she was coming or going. She was still in loads of pain, mainly her lower back, but she was also totally shattered. Neither of us had had much sleep since Saturday night (it was Tuesday morning by now), and despite the pain she kept falling asleep only to be woken almost immediately with more pain. After another examination, if I remember rightly she was seven centimetres dilated now, Sarah decided to break the waters. This only took a few moments and there was no mistaking when it happened; Whoosh! Like a waterfall off the end of the bed. I nearly offered to go and get a mop and bucket but thought better of it.

Once again there was good news and not so good news to follow. The good news was that Sarah said it shouldn’t be too long until the birth now. The not so good news was that Angie`s pain had suddenly increased tenfold. I didn’t think that was possible, the poor bugger. The problem was that Angie had had as much morphine as she was allowed and the only other option to help her now was an epidural. Sarah had to ring another department in the hospital for a doctor to come and administer it, and in the meantime Angie had machines attached to various parts of her body to monitor the baby and her contractions which had started in earnest now.

It took a good hour for the doctor to arrive (it was very busy) and I had spent most of that time keeping an eye on the contraction machine screen. It was an amazingly clever piece of equipment; when a contraction was on the way the numbers on the screen shot up (as did Angies howls of pain, poor bugger), and when the contraction finished the numbers shot back down again. Things like this really amaze me.

Angie had to sit on the edge of the bed for the epidural and she had to be awake, this part was vital said the doctor, she couldn’t give the epidural if Angie was not awake. And it had to be in the very centre of her spine, if it wasn’t it wouldn’t work properly. I was kneeling in front of Angie keeping her upright (she was in and out of sleep all the time now and could barely hold herself up), and the doctor kept telling me to keep her from falling asleep again, and to keep her very still. Easier said than done.

 At one point she did nod off and the only thing I could do to try to get her attention, and to keep her awake, was to gently head-but the side of her head (my arms were busy keeping her upright). At last it was done and the next time she fell asleep Sarah said we should just let her sleep for a while if she could. I took this opportunity to nip outside and inform people of the latest update. I had been out at various times during the night for a smoke and to send text messages, and had received replies no matter what time it had been. It looked like no one was getting any sleep.

At 12.15pm, after another examination, Sarah began getting her stuff ready for the birth. She had a trolley next to her with all sorts of implements on it, in case the baby ran into difficulties during birth she informed me, and also piles of towels and what looked like ointments. She took up position at one end of Angie, the business end, with me at the other.

‘Where`s the rest of your team then Sarah?’ I asked

‘Team?’

‘Aye. I thought there were five or six people helping out at a birth?’

‘No, just me’

Not for the first time, I received what I thought was a very funny look from a midwife in this hospital.

Within minutes Angie was being told when to push and when to rest between contractions. This was just like how you see it on the telly; with the midwife urging and encouraging and the mother to be sweating buckets, puffing and panting and pushing for all she is worth between cries of pain, then deciding she cant push anymore, then pushing at the wrong time because she feels she needs to. Meanwhile the father to be is feeling pretty helpless, getting his hand squeezed with a vice like grip by his wife, and saying quite useless things like;

‘Push push, don’t push don’t push, deep breathes deep breathes’

After what seemed like forever Sarah said she could see the baby’s head. I left my post and went to have a look. Sure enough there was a tiny section of head visible.

‘His head`s there, I can see his head Angie!’ I shouted, maybe a little too loudly, before returning to my post at her side.

There then followed an awful lot of classic `woman in labour`. Sarah was the perfect picture of professionalism, I believe I was the perfect picture of hapless husband/father to be. It was looking like the baby simply didn’t want to come out, it was taking that long, then Sarah suddenly said;

‘One more push Angie, here he comes’

I shot around to watch as our son entered the world. Nothing can prepare you for the moment you see your baby being born, nothing. All of my emotions came flooding out and my eyes were flooded with tears of joy, when Sarah suddenly asked me if I wanted to cut the cord. She had to hold the scissors in place for me to cut it, I was shaking like a leaf, and I remember being really surprised at how hard it was to actually cut through the umbilical cord. When Sarah did whatever midwifes do immediately after the birth, the afterbirth and stuff, I went straight back to Angie to give her a much deserved kiss and cuddle. Sarah then handed our son to his mother to hold for the very first time.

It was 13.07pm, 17th July 2007 (7lbs half an ounce), when our baby was born, twenty three hours after we had entered the hospital. It had been a hard slog, but (pardon the cliché), it was well worth it. Sarah then had to do some more afterbirth stuff to Angie and it was my turn to hold our boy for the very first time. I was scared stiff in case I dropped him or something, but he seemed to fit perfectly when cuddled into my arms.

Our baby`s name? Joe David Taylor. Joe because I have always said if I ever had a son I was calling him after Joe Harvey (ex Newcastle United FA Cup winning captain and manager when the club won the Fairs Cup in 1969), David after David Batty, oops, I mean after Angie`s dad. And here he was, our little pride and joy.

I got squeals of joy down the phone when I went outside to ring everyone and Angie`s mam and dad jumped straight in their car and headed down to see us. When I got back to our room Joe was asleep and Angie was ready (more than ready) for a bath. She went to hop down off the bed and her legs just totally gave way from under her and she landed in a heap on the floor. I rushed over and was relieved when she started laughing and saying she couldn’t feel her legs properly, especially her right leg. It turned out the doctor hadn’t quite got the epidural right and had given it just off centre. That would explain all the pain Angie was still in despite the epidural that is supposed to ease a lot (or most?) of it.

Just before Angie`s parents came Joe got hiccups. Angie and I just looked at each other.

‘What do we do?’

‘I don’t know, how on earth can he have hiccups?

I went to find a midwife.

‘Excuse me, can someone help please? We`ve just had a baby and we don’t know what to do just now’

‘Sure. What`s the problem?’

‘He has hiccups’

‘Hiccups?’

‘Yes. How do we get rid of them? It doesn’t seem right to try and give him a fright or something’

‘You don’t need to give him a fright, it`s perfectly natural for babies to get hiccups, they’ll clear soon enough’

‘Oh alright, sorry to bother you’

‘It`s ok, any time’

Did I sense a funny look there?

Angie`s parents only stayed for a short time but made a huge fuss over their first grandson. We then had a bit of a dilemma. The staff here were more than happy for us to stay for the night, in fact I think they expected us to, but Angie was very keen to get back to Hexham as the maternity ward there had said she could have a room after the birth, and of course all of our families and friends were in Hexham.

We had to wait for a time while paperwork was completed, and I had time to nip down to the hospital shop to bye a thank you card for the staff, then it was time to leave the RVI with our son. We came here as two, and left as three. We really couldn’t thank the staff enough, they had been really excellent with us but it was better all round for us to get back to Hexham, even though it was 7pm by the time we left. This was our first trip in the car as a family and even though it`s a mere twenty miles, I don’t think I have ever been as nervous or cautious behind the wheel in my life.

All the staff at Hexham were delighted to see us, and especially delighted to see Joe, and a great fuss was made over mother and son. The rest of our families popped in to visit and by the time everyone had left and we had a bit of time to ourselves, it was getting on for midnight. It felt strange to walk out of the hospital alone leaving Angie and Joe in there, but we all needed to sleep and were more than ready for it. Our lives had now changed forever, we were parents, and sleep had to be grabbed at every opportunity! But this story doesn’t end here, not by a long shot...    

                  

   

© 2013 Stevetaylor67


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Added on April 7, 2013
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Author

Stevetaylor67
Stevetaylor67

Hexham, Northumberland, United Kingdom



About
I'm from Hexham in Northumberland, UK, and in December 2012 I self published my first book 'Hot Dogs Pretzels and an American Adventure'. It is all about my three trips to and around the USA in 2001, .. more..