Well, it’s all happened and I have a few minutes to breathe, so here’s a quick update.
We went in last Monday and were finally kick-started at about 11:30 am. Basically this meant the insertion of the necessary magic compound and the instruction to “walk around the hospital grounds until something happens.” They also warned that nothing may happen, so it was good to be prepared, and that it could take up to 24 hours if it works.
Over the next seven hours we walked, sat, had a drink, walked again… (the hospital grounds aren’t very expansive nor especially interesting, so this was fairly tedious) and waited. And waited. Nothing.
We returned at about 6 pm to find a girl opposite us, who’d had the induction treatment at about the same time as we did, in the full throes of labour. Which was nice. We sat on the bed, shrugged our shoulders and prepared for an uneventful night and further treatment the next day. We went to the canteen, had some food and wandered back. The girl opposite was probably going to give birth within the hour, we thought, and then something happened. Small, but fairly regular, pains every five to ten minutes quickly turned into much more intense pains with increasing frequency. We noticed the girl opposite seemed to have eased off a bit as we rapidly overtook, with Mrs. H. now gripping the bed bars and grimacing – mostly silently but there was the odd expletive – every three minutes on the dot.
At 11 pm we were both thinking that it was full-on. The midwives and nurses came around to check on progress but only said that it may perhaps be starting and that we should get a good sleep in to conserve energy for the morning. Sleeping tablets were dispensed and we wondered how on earth we’d sleep through this, but by midnight it was very clear that we wouldn’t. Fast forward through a very unpleasant experience to 2:29 am and our baby had arrived! He was born naturally with just gas & air as pain relief; the only option, as it turned out, since it all happened so quickly in the end. Incidentally, the poor girl referred to above finally gave birth 27 hours after our new arrival!
Very soon after the baby was given to us the midwife suggested I put a nappy on him and clothe him. Until that point it hadn’t crossed my mind that I’d be doing this, so soon, and whilst being watched by an expert. It’s strange how something so simple can instill a feeling of total incompetence but I eventually managed it in the end. An there we were: a family. It hadn’t sunk in then and I’m still not sure it has, but I do know that being a father is both a strange and wonderful feeling.