(Written 15th Jan 2010, post-dated to 13th December 2009)
The big day has finally come! My wife and I are now proud owners of a little baby boy, whom we have called Samuel Joseph Dawkins. He was born just before 8am, weighing in at 8lb 7oz (and no, don’t even think of asking for that in so-called “real money”).
It all started at 11:15pm last night (well, technically it *all* started 40 weeks ago, but that’s another story…) when Ellie’s waters broke. She wasn’t getting any contractions at that point, so we phoned the maternity ward at Paulton (which is our nearest delivery centre) for some advice on what to do next. They said to come in for a quick check-up, to make absolutely sure that it was the waters that had broken and not something else; it was fully expected that we would come home afterwards though, as labour usually lasts many hours, especially for the first child. Nonetheless, we packed the car with everything we would need for every situation, following our carefully crafted lists to the letter, before setting off for Paulton, which is a good 30 minute drive.
On the way, contractions started, and by the time she was examined at Paulton she was already nearly 4cm dilated, and after a fair bit of persuasion that Ellie was actually in labour and a fair amount of pain, we were transferred to Bath for the delivery. That was another 15-20 minutes drive away, so back in the car we hopped and I tried not to drive too recklessly nor too slowly.
At Bath, we once again had to try to persuade the staff that things were happening. To be fair, statistically it should have taken ages, so they were perfectly justified in their own minds about being so dismissive, but it did wind us up a bit that no one seemed to believe us. Eventually they led us to a delivery room, where Ellie got into a warm bath and I was shown the tea making facilities down the corridor. Good to see priorities were right.
I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice to say that as the early hours of the morning drifted by Ellie felt more and more pain, and only when she was discovered to be 8cm dilated did the midwives relent and give her any kind of pain relief. Still, the gas and air worked like a charm. And, after much effort, hand squeezing, breathing in of drugs, and a shift change for the staff, Samuel was finally brought screaming into the world. And oh, what a gorgeous little boy he is!
Once he was out and gazing into our eyes he calmed down, and actually didn’t cry again for hours. He just looked at us. We reckon he must have recognised our voices, because he almost instantly locked onto the two of us as the source of the familiar sounds, and completely blanked the midwives. We didn’t think newborn babies were supposed to be awake, let alone looking around at things, but clearly Samuel takes after his parents in not fitting into other people’s boxes.
So, after 8 hours of labour he was born, and 4 hours later we were getting into the car to take him home. We wondered how on earth that was allowed, and we hardly felt completely prepared for having a baby, despite all the learning and reading we’d done before. It’s all so new, an exciting new adventure, and we’re tiptoeing our way through it, filled with wonder and joy and just a touch of trepidation.
And in the afternoon my family came up to visit. And tomorrow Ellie’s Mum will be coming. And the following day Ellie’s Dad will drop by, along with my Grandparents. And we’re bouncing off the walls with excitement. And we’re propping our eyes open with matchsticks because we’ve missed a night’s sleep. And I’m a Daddy at last.