So four weeks ago our son was born.
He was 10 days over due so by the time he finally decided he was ready to enter the world our overnight bag had been packed, unpacked and repacked at least a dozen time. We felt like we were as ready as we could be.
Instead of a hospital birth, my partner and I had decided that when the big day finally came we would travel roughly 25 miles to a midwife run birthing centre that we had visited a few weeks previous.
For us one of the biggest attractions of the centre was the availability of multiple birthing pools and a postnatal ward complete with a full staff of midwifes close at hand to offer assistance with breast-feeding.
On the Wednesday evening as my girlfriend headed up to bed she mentioned that she felt like something might be starting to happen. I suggested that she got some sleep, as this might be the last opportunity she had for a few months.
By the morning something was definitely happening. No broken waters but definite sporadic contractions. By 10 o’clock we’d decided to go in.
At this point I knew my job drive to the birthing centre whilst doing my best to comfort my girlfriend.
There is something about seeing the woman you love in pain and knowing that there is nothing directly you can do to ease her suffering that really makes you feel useless.
45 minutes later we were checking into the birthing centre for the first time.
Within 15 minutes the first midwife had examined my girlfriend and told us to come back later. The midwife explained that in order to actually be admitted to the centre my partner would need to be in “active labor” (at least 6 cm dilated). We went back home and for the next few hours I sat by my girlfriend’s side feeling useless as she lay on the sofa making deep pain-ridden wailing noises.
The midwife at the centre had also explained that we should wait as long as possible before coming back as they operated a 3 strikes policy. Meaning that if my partner wasn’t in labor the by our third visit then we’d have to go to the hospital instead.
By 4 o’clock we’d decided that we were going to try for our second attempt and following another 45 minutes drive we were back at the centre. This time after a further examination by a second midwife my partner was confirmed as 7cm dilated and the midwife started filling the pool.
At this point my job was to get the iPod connected to our portable speakers and start the Labor playlist going. Then once my girlfriend was in the pool I began to feel a bit useless again.
It’s a strange feeling. All I could do was to sit by the edge of the water trying to comfort my girlfriend while continually reassuring her that the enormous amount of pain she was in was not going to last for ever. After a few hours something came out. Not the baby but something else, a little bit of poo. Now it might seem a little bit disgusting but I was actually glad of it. It gave me a purpose. My job from that point on was to keep the poo away from my partner’s semi-submerged face. At last I felt useful.
Finally after three hours of poolside poo duty we reached the final stages. A third midwife and myself took our positions on either side of my partner and prepared for the delivery.
I watched the head crown via a mirror on the end of a stick that the midwife held. I’ll tell you something; nothing changes your relationship with a vagina like watching a smaller version of your own face being pushed out of one. Again I felt powerless.
My partner’s waters still hadn’t broken and our son was born inside the membrane, (something the midwife assured me was a sign of good luck).
Once the head was clear the midwife told me to reach into the water and she delivered our son into my hands. I lifted him from the water and held him in my arms as he took his first breaths. Then having passed him into his mother’s arms I was instructed on how to cut the cord.
As we enjoyed the first moments of our son’s life my partner thanked me and assured me that she couldn’t have done it without me. It felt good to hear her say that but at the same time I’m pretty sure she could have. She just might have had to do it with a bit of poo on her face.
Omi Aquila Craven-Griffiths
Weighed 9lbs 1oz and was born at 10pm on the 26th Jan 2012
Best day of my life.
Twitter – @Berkavitch