A Dads story of Pregnancy and Labour. Guest post Written by Mark from The Stevensonlife.
Here we have our first guest post on Yorkie… Not Just For Dad’s. Mark from The Stevenson Life Blog has written a post sharing his experience through the Pregnancy, Labour and Birth of their son Grayson. Mark and Ashleigh Blog about their Day to Day life and being parents. They have some very interesting posts over on their blog so head on over and have a read.
Please find Mark’s post regarding his experience with Pregnancy and Labour below.
Pregnancy, Labour, Birth – A Dads Story.
*Slight trigger warning – this post talks about traumatic labour – if you’re affected by this, please read with caution*
I’d never wanted kids. For years growing up, I was kind of content (convinced) that I would be forever young – living the same lifestyle that I enjoyed through my teenage years, in to University and for some part, in my first few years of “proper” employment. I have a big family, my brothers all have children, so I’d spent enough time around babies to know it simply wasn’t for me.
And then I met Ashleigh.
I remember having *those* discussions with Ash – “I don’t feel well”, “I’ve lost my appetite, I feel sick”, “I’m tired”, all the key warning signs that your body is trying to tell you something. Then one Sunday, it dawned on us, that she could indeed be pregnant. We’d talked about children, and had only recently got engaged (little did we know that Ash was pregnant at the time and in early days of pregnancy), and we’d planned that it was something we’d like in the future, but certainly not at that moment in time.
Needless to say, we drove to the chemist right away and got a test, and, well, the rest is history.
I think Ashleigh was more shocked than I was – we were in a good place as a couple, we were happy, enjoying life, planning for the long term future. It certainly didn’t throw me off quite as much as I originally thought it would, that’s for sure. I’ve always been quite good at handling unexpected situations, and this was certainly one of them. To be honest, my initial thought was (probably) “we should have a glass of wine!”
Scans and Informing family of the upcoming joy.
We’re both impatient, so we went for a private scan as soon as we could – which made the pregnancy a little bit more real. Then the fun part – telling people! We had family visiting soon after, and Ash simply couldn’t hide the symptoms of her pregnancy – we hadn’t planned on telling them so early, but we didn’t have much choice (you know when people know something is wrong and start worrying – yeah, that!).
We broke the news to the rest of the family soon after, we drove back home for the weekend and told everyone face-to-face – which was incredibly emotional – A lot of my family had just assumed I’d never be a Dad (for the aforementioned reasons), so this was very welcome news.
Ashleigh and I worked together during her Pregnancy – she had just started a job at the football club with me, working in the same department. Most people say they could never work with their partner – but for me, it meant that Ash was only a couple of desks away from throughout the whole of the pregnancy.
I could check she was ok, get her drinks, lunch etc, and she could monitor just how much I left my desk to pop to the vending machines or the coffee shop! It also meant that I could ensure she got to and from work safely, without having to use public transport, which was always a concern of mine (buses, people rushing, the strain of carrying another person around and so on!)
Time flew by. 3 months of pregnancy soon went to 6 months without so much as a blink. Before we knew it, we were having scans so we could see the gender, face, size, weight. Everything. It was all very real!
A few things to note at this stage:
1: Never underestimate how useless you will feel. Apart from the standard (run a bath, do the chores, make sure your partner is comfortable), there is very little you can physically do to help your partner. You’ll watch their bodies change, their ankles swell during their pregnancy.
2: YOU ARE NOT USELESS!!! Just do what you can – and ask what you can do to help. Be interested in things, labour is not just something for ladies.
3: It’s a learning curve for you both. You’ll come out of midwife sessions and just look at each other and say “what on earth does that mean?” It’s all very new, literally a whole new world of phrases, languages and equipment.
4: It’s ok to show signs of weakness. Talk to your partner, there’s no point bottling it up, she needs you to be there, physically and mentally, The things that are worrying you, are probably worrying her to. A problem shared, and all that.
Plodding along through Pregnancy.
The last 3 months of the pregnancy were the most exciting – for me at least. We prepared the nursery. We bought clothes, push chairs, car seats (OH MY GOD don’t get me started on this, it’s another level of new things to learn!!). You start to plan things in detail, you get the hospital bag ready, you plan your route to the hospital, you plan who you’re going to tell, in what order so you don’t offend anyone.
Of course, Ashleigh was incredibly anxious about labour – but she was so chilled. We’d done some hypno-birthing classes, so practiced that before bed to get in to a good mindset about the pending experience. You’d have been hard pushed to know that she was (of course), scared.
I think it became harder for me once Ashleigh left work for Maternity leave – I was no longer just there for her all day. Thankfully work were amazing, and I’d recently moved to work from the training ground, which was only 10 minutes from home. This meant that I was less anxious about being too far away during the pregnancy, should I be needed. I also started to work more Flexi time, so I could be around if she wasn’t feeling great or if we had appointments to attend.
Grayson was stubborn before he was even born. Ashleigh was 13 days over-due before we had to have things Labour related kick started. We went in to hospital on the Friday morning to be induced, and were sent home after and told to come back the next morning if nothing happened.
We were admitted on the Saturday morning – and so commenced the longest 24 / 36 / 38 hours of both our lives.
The hospital didn’t have a bed for us, and Ashleigh wasn’t *technically* in labour, so we were left to walk around the hospital for a few hours, sit down in the coffee shop, walk around a bit more, and just hope that something happened. We were put in to a small room in the morning, that had a bed in it, but was also a storage room. People coming and going all the time – Poor Ashleigh had no privacy whatsoever.
Labour, we are In it for the long haul.
By now, we’d been in the hospital 12 hours, and really wanted things to get going and Labour to make a start. I was trying my best to help her remain calm and relaxed, but feeling more and more useless throughout the evening. Then, her waters broke (there is a lot more detail to the days events, but that’s for another post I’m sure!).
We were moved in to a proper room at around 2am Sunday morning. I stuck with the plan, I put our fairy lights up, put some music on, helped Ash with the hypno-birthing techniques we’d been practicing during the pregnancy. Ashleigh was being induced, and was enjoying(?!) the gas and air to help things.
No word of a lie – we were in that room for 18 hours. The whole time, the induction was being ramped up. I hadn’t slept since Saturday night (so we’re talking 24 hours now), but it wasn’t about me. All I could do was worry about Ashleigh and Grayson, just hoping they’d be ok. Then things got real about 6pm that Sunday.
You’ll never be prepared for labour.
I don’t care what anyone says. Every Labour is different, and changes so quickly. Unless you’re lucky, plans will go out of the window. You’re at the mercy of the medical professionals – and you simply have to trust their judgement. Grayson turned just as Ash was pushing, which meant they had to prepare to take Ashleigh to surgery, at first to use rotary forceps, but with the backup plan of having to do an emergency c-section.
At this stage, Ashleigh was on some pretty strong drugs, so we just had to roll with it. She was seen by a surgeon to explain what was going to happen, and then we were whisked out of the room and down to surgery. I was carrying a machine, I think it was a heart rate monitor, I don’t overly remember.
We walked down the corridor, and got to a big red line on the floor. Ashleigh was pushed through, and I was told I couldn’t go any further as it was sterile. Like that, she was gone, and I was stuck, not really knowing what was going on. I was directed in to a room, and told to put some scrubs on and a hair net, and to wait.
Oh my word.
Longest 10 minutes of my life. They were administering spinal anaesthesia, so Ash was numb from the waist down. I was then told I could through to be with her.
Surgery was incredible to witness – like a well oiled machine. I’d never really witnessed anything like it (just surgery in general). They had someone listing the implements used, and counting them back in afterwards to ensure nothing was left behind. Doctors and Nurses everywhere. There was blood, something I’m not good with, but it didn’t bother me at this stage. My only concerns were the wellbeing of Ash and G.
Some points to remember at this stage:
1: Trust the midwives and doctors. It is their job to do what’s in the best interest of everyone involved.
2: Savour every moment, where you can. You may be tired, you may be worried and stressed, but your partners memory of the day will probably be traumatic, despite the happy ending – they will rely on you for feedback for some parts!
3: Ask questions. If you’re not sure what’s going on, or why someone is doing something, then ask.
Finally, Grayson arrived! I got to cut the cord, but I was a bit of a tired mess, and nearly cut the doctors finger. He was quite vague with his instructions, and had his hand in the way – so not my fault! Thankfully, he corrected me!
I got to hold our new baby! It pains me that Ashleigh couldn’t hold him first – but she was still in surgery and laying flat on her back – she couldn’t hold him. Grayson was soon taken off me for checks. But I reassured her that everything was ok, and for the most part, she could at least see him.
After the birth and the welcomed Homecoming.
My only real complaint was that shortly after Ash was taken through to the ward, I was told I had to go home. They don’t allow Dads to stay on the ward (understandably, it’s an all ladies hospital and everyone is there managing their own labor and circumstances), but they also don’t offer anywhere for Dads to sleep.
We didn’t live far away, so we decided it was best for me to go home and try and sleep, and to go back the next morning. Ashleighs mum had travelled up that weekend, so was waiting up for me when I got in – it was nice to have someone to share the news (and concerns with!). Needless to say, we were back at the hospital first thing the next morning, and were able to come home Monday afternoon.
And that’s it – you’re on your own now! I’d never changed a nappy. I’ve never bathed a baby. One of the biggest things for me was having to inject Ashleigh every day for 2 weeks. Me and needles are not good friends! By week 2, I was a pro, though 😉
It’s cliche to say “you’ll never get used to the sleepless nights” – but trust me, you will never get used to the sleepless nights! I remember standing in the shower one morning, after very little sleep, just thinking to myself “I can’t do this!”.
But I did do it, and I am doing it, and you too can and will do it.
I’ve waffled on for too long here, sorry. Here’s my top 5 bits of advice:
- Concerned or Curious about the pregnancy, Ask questions. Anti-natal classes, hypno-birthing, during the labour. If you’re not sure, then ask. You won’t be the first to ask a question, you certainly won’t be the last.
- It’s ok to be scared / worried / concerned (delete as appropriate, or in my case, be all 3). Talk to your partner, share your worries. Ask them to explain their worries and concerns. You’re a team, remember
- You will feel useless during labour. You will. You’ll think you’re not doing enough, you’ll want to do more. Truth be known, just being there is a huge help, holding a hand (probably) helps, talking, joking (if you can), to distract, even for a few seconds, might help (or land you a black eye, it’s worth the risk). You are not useless
- Fatherhood is whole new world. You’re learning, we’re all learning. Embrace it, get stuck in. Wake up at 2am, help with the feeds, change the bums. It’s not just a mums job, you know! Give your partner a break wherever and whenever you can. You’re tired, sure, but so are they, probably a lot more! Go easy on each other, too.
- Enjoy the pregnancy and it all. Take pictures, document things somehow (we set up an email account for G from when we first found out we were expecting, and both emailed him our thoughts for when he’s older) and have lots of pictures, of course!
The Stevenson Life
I’d just like to say a Massive thank you to Mark for writing this Guest Blog for us here on the Yorkie not just for Dads Blog. It is incredible to hear the story and experience of pregnancy, labour and childbirth from a Dad.
I have read many experience story’s from Mums which are amazing to read but not many from Dads. This is why I think these posts are fantastic and their to help other expecting fathers out there.
You can follow Mark and Ashleigh over on their blog and they are also a great account to follow over on Instagram. I will pop some links below for you.
The Stevenson Life Blog – The Stevenson Life
Twitter – The Stevenson Life.