The birth of my son was a little expectedly unexpected. I’ve never seen anyone give birth before – seeing it on television does not count – and there are a few things I expected and a few things I didn’t. What I did expect; the pain my wife would be in, signs of labour and so on, there were a few things I really didn’t expect and those caused me the most trouble afterwards. Some things I don’t think there was anything that could’ve prepared me for it, but others…a little more warning might’ve helped.
So here are the five things I wish I had known before my wife gave birth.
There Was So Much Blood
Look I knew there would be blood, I’m not naive. I know where babies come from, the stress and trauma it puts on the body. I know that women often need stitches afterwards, that women usually injured in the process (injured really is the best way to put it). We went to the antenatal classes. I remember the midwife saying to take sanitary towels to the hospital because there would be bleeding for a while afterwards. That is would be like having a heavy period. I have heavy periods myself and I used to self-harm. I am used to blood.
Nothing prepared me for how much blood there was. I don’t know if it was worse because it bethend was in the bath. That the red was so striking against the white. Or if there was just a lot of it. Both the ambulance men and the midwife said there was more than usual.
That was just in the bath. Then there was all the blood afterwards when they got her out of the bath, and the blood on the baby and on the bed and the towels…
Top tip – salt gets out blood. Add a bit to the wash. Works like a charm. Saved a lot of bedding and towels this week.
How Hard It Would Be To Heard My Wife Scream
Two things you need to know about my wife. One, she has a very high pain threshold. Me? I’m rubbish but she’s tough, even before the accident she was tough. Two; she deals with pain very gracefully. Unless she’s tired and in pain, then it really shows. Those ribs bothered her for about nine months after the accident however and she went to work and took it well. Her hips are really hurting still but she’s managing. She doesn’t moan or complain…about anything really. It’s a struggle to get her to take painkillers. Give me a bad period and I’ll take those things like sweets but not her.
Which is why seeing her screaming in pain at every contraction hit me hard. Not just because I couldn’t do anything but because I had never seen her express pain that way before. Even in the days after the accident when the painkillers were dialled down, she managed the pain.
This was something else, though. And I expected her to be in pain. I expected her to scream. I didn’t expect it to hurt me so much.
The Afterbirth Was Really, Really Gross
I actually don’t know what I was expecting with this. It’s part of the body, an organ, from inside a person. It was hardly going to be pretty was it? I actually expected it to be pink. It was actually black and really, really big. Snappy was just under six pounds at birth and the placenta looked like it was the same size as him.
I am not exaggerating.
I don’t think it helped that the midwife effectively pulled it out and then it sat in one of those cardboard bowls for twenty minutes in my hallway.
She asked if we wanted to keep it.
No, no, incinerated, make it go away.
She nearly forgot it.
It Can Be Quick
People had been telling me it would take time. That the second one it quicker but the first can be a long drawn out process of screaming and drugs (depending on your preference). Over the course of the nine months, I heard stories from every mother I knew and everyone who knew a mother or someone who had given birth about how long it took. Ten hours, thirty hours, three days.
I had heard one story where it was quick. That was her second child though and this was our first.
I was prepared for a long haul, we both were. That’s why I helped the midwife talk bethend into going home that night. I thought we had a good few hours ahead of us not a mere three.
Hindsight is a wonderful but useless thing.
I Could’ve Lost Them Both
It occurred to me while I was on the phone to 999, while she was holding my son and bleeding in my damn bathtub that I could lose her. That she could die and I would be alone with a baby that I could care for but without her life would not be…liveable. I would not have had a child with anyone else, I would not have married anyone else. I would not have gotten this far without her.
Raising a child without her would’ve been done out of necessity not because I wanted to do it. No matter how much I love my son.
And I really love this little boy.
Later, when we were in the hospital and trying to get a little sleep and he was in his fish tank next to the bed; I realised I could’ve lost him too. I could’ve lost them both. We were in a precarious position. Alone with no medical assistance, anything could’ve gone wrong. The cord could’ve gotten wrapped around his neck. He might not have cried as soon as he had been born and then what? He could’ve been hurt. Hit his head on the bath. Anything. It’s why we didn’t really want to have a home birth in the first place. I like hospitals and medical professionals and equipment.
Towels and paracetamol and a trainee dispenser do not really cut it.
My heart is a funny thing, held together by tape and my wife’s care. Losing one or either of them…I can imagine the hurt and that’s the worst thing. I can imagine it.
I wish I had known that before hand.
In The End Though
They are both fine. Snappy is feeding well, my wife is healing albeit slowly and the worst thing that happened is the state of my house when we got home from the hospital again.
Still, a little warning would’ve been nice.