Welcome to the second edition of The Daddy Diaries; the series of interviews with Daf about his experiences as a student father and in supporting a young mum. In this interview, Daf discusses the labour and birth from a father’s point of view.
So SB arrived slightly sooner than expected. Was it a surprise when the doctor said they were going to induce Maddy?
Yes and no. We were prepared for it, as Maddy’s blood pressure had been so high, but we didn’t think it would be so early. My first thought when the consultant said she’d be induced that week was “But the house isn’t ready yet!”.
How did you feel during the daytime, when Maddy was in hospital being induced?
I was just doing my best to stay calm. Maddy was freaking out a lot, so I felt like I had to stay strong and keep her calm. The worst time was at 9pm when I had to leave. On the night before SB was born she was so fed up, she wanted to discharge herself despite the contractions, and stayed in the corridor outside the antenatal ward with us until midnight.
How about during the nights, when you had to leave?
I don’t remember much other than sheer exhaustion. I don’t think I ate at all that week.
Did you mind that Maddy had her mum there as a birth partner too?
Not at all. It took a lot of pressure off me, actually. Her mum was able to help emotionally and with advice, because she’s been through childbirth. It also meant that if Maddy needed something practical, one of us could go and get it while the other one stayed with Maddy, rather than having to leave her all alone.
How did you feel during the labour itself?
I felt a bit numb. All I could think about was making sure Maddy was okay. The midwives were great and I knew she was being looked after physically – I can’t thank them enough for all they did – but there was always that worry that she needed me, and I just wanted to be there.
What was the most memorable moment during labour, leading up to the birth?
Maddy’s hallucinations. They were so random and intense. It was definitely an ‘experience’, to say the least, and actually relieved the tension a little. (You can read more about my hallucinations here).
Were you surprised at how well you coped?
Definitely. I think everyone expects that they will fall apart and be a nervous wreck when they’re a birth partner, so I was surprised that I managed to keep a cool head.
Did you feel involved enough during the birth?
I was holding the gas and air tube, which was enough responsibility for me! I knew that the midwives and doctors knew what they were doing, and I was happy to leave them to it. I liked my involvement when she was born – I got to be the one to tell Maddy that we’d had a daughter, which was amazing.
What were your first thoughts when SB was born?
“Oh my god!”, followed by “Wow!”, and then a lot of numbness. Finally my thoughts focused on finally knowing that we had a daughter, after months of wondering and not knowing.
How did you feel, calling people to tell them that SB had arrived?
Saying it aloud made it feel more real. It was amazing to be able to call people and finally tell them she was here, after months of telling people that we were expecting and people always asking about the pregnancy.
What was the best part of the whole experience?
It’s a tie between two moments. The first was holding Maddy’s hand just after SB was born, and telling her that we had a daughter. I squeezed Maddy’s hand, and I felt her squeeze my hand back, and I couldn’t have felt more proud of her for what she did. The other is when they first handed SB to me and I had a cuddle with her, and she looked exactly like Maddy. I vowed to always protect her and make sure she would have everything she’ll ever need.
What advice do you have for fathers-to-be worrying about the birth?
Read the books. Learn as much as you possibly can – but never, ever assume that you know everything, as there will always be some aspect of birth that will surprise you.
Be practically prepared – take at least two of everything you think you might need.
Stay calm – the mum-to-be might be freaking out and panicking, especially if she’s in a lot of pain, and she will need you to keep your head and be there to reassure and support her.
Remember that when she’s in labour, it’s all about the woman. Don’t feel pushed out if she wants her mum there, as she needs support and you need to do what she asks to make sure she is comfortable. Don’t pressure her and demand to have your mum there too, or say it’s not fair that her mum gets to be there and yours doesn’t – yes, it’s your mum’s grandchild too, but it’s all about the woman in labour, and she may want her mum there because she’ll have experience of it, and she’ll want you there to see your child born. Demanding that your mum is present is like her inviting her mum to watch you have a vasectomy or a prostate exam.
So there we have Part Two of The Daddy Diaries! I hope you’re all enjoying the series so far – we’re enjoying making it! Next week, we’ll be talking about those hazy newborn days, and how Daf adjusted to fatherhood. Check back then – in the meantime, let us know what you think in the comments!