JON & ROLLO
Despite Charlotte asking me to write my birthtale after Max’s sterling effort, I’ve been a lazy git and not got around to it – but this afternoon she asked if I could do one for tomorrow! So I’ve copied an email (edited but probably not edited enough, sorry) I wrote a few days after Rollo’s birth to some dear old friends who were living at the time in Abu Dhabi. The email turned into sort of stream of consciousness effort to remember some of what had happened and in what order. It’s a bit chaotic and I apologise for the rude words and attempts at humour, but It probably sums up my state of mind at the time. It’s far too long for anyone to bother reading I’m sure – I’ll do a more concise one for Laurie xxx
Dear Nick and Claire,
Thanks for the lovely message - I read it on Wednesday evening just after we got home from the hospital, and it helped soothe me back down to my new reality after an incredible, exciting, exhausting, LOUD, slightly bonkers 60 hours or so. About 10 minutes later, I managed to stick a large chunk of glass into my finger while doing the washing up (trying to make some stab at tidying the flat, which had been left rather un-ship-shape after 36 hours of a home birth). I spurted blood onto the wall and had to go to Accident and Emergency to have 5 stitches. I did stand there for about 5 mins thinking “I’m sure I can just wrap this up, carry on, help Cholly love Rollo and be a good committed calm collected father. Shit she is going to kill me and I doubt he’ll remember his first night at home with a fondness for his stupid old Pa…
Obviously because she’s Cholly she took my idiocy in her stride so the reality had to wait a little bit longer while I called Ben and had him drive me to Lewisham A&E till 3 in the morning. If you are concerned, don't worry, I sent him home at midnight, poor thing.
So fatherhood has started in my customary fashion as I’m sure you anticipated!
It's been a crazy week, but he's beautiful and he's my little boy and you have to poke about a bit to find things better than that! Charlotte and Rollo are grand, having a snooze right now while I idly watch the rugby and try to write a few missives. We've had a quiet day without any visitors so things are just peachy. I'm in a total fantasy land as you can see...
He's been lovely and let me sleep a bit last night, Charlotte is doing amazingly with feeding but it seems to be a bit of a challenge still and he's taking a while to latch which must be frustrating (he imagines – obviously I am just about managing to make cups of tea while Cholly feeds Rollo – I don’t seem to have made any meals thanks to Cholly's friends generosity) To be fair he only has a tiny mouth and her boobs are currently about the size of my head. Charlotte is knackered but patient and I'm so proud of them both. I'm resisting the urge to go in and check on them…
I checked. They’re fine.
Labour was pretty fucking terrifying / astonishing / boring / nerve-shredding / LOUD / exciting / joyous and looked jolly bloody painful at times but ended pretty well!
The weekend before “labour” started he was already a week late - we walked to Catford over Blythe Hill, Charlotte was having definite movements up and down the hill but Catford shopping centre seemed to slow the little bugger down and who can blame him. On the Sunday we went to our new very local pretty fancy curry house with Vic and Bev (Chol's best mate and “good-god” parents) Chol’s curry was probably too nice to have had the required effect the next day and the week pootled on with not much happening, apart from Cholly understandably getting rather tired with the wonders of pregnancy!
The lovely midwife came on the next Saturday and Chol reluctantly discussed scheduling in an inducement for Friday the coming week - we went over to the greenwich peninsula on Sunday and walked the Thames path for a bit and had a nice stroll through the Millennium village (which already looks a bit worn but some nice touches - it reminded us a bit of Amsterdam – (Not really but the boy was conceived in Amsterdam (we think!))) onto the DOME (the first time I had ever been in THE DOME funnily enough - but I’ve always quite liked it - you know I like tents) to watch "Wolf of Wall Street". Movie good fun. Went home, Cholly had a rather stronger curry (Vindaloo - I do love this woman) but all seemed quiet.
Anyway (get on with It you are no doubt thinking)
Monday morning Charlotte was up at five and she felt like something really was happening, so I rang in to work, and we set to a morning of bouncing on the ball (Chol), walking up hills (both of us), breast pumping (me - haha), cleaning the house (mostly Cholly - I am a lazy sod - something about hygiene - a total waste of time - proceeded to wreck it over the next 24 hours)…
Contractions started coming on quite strong 2ish and by the evening were pretty regular but not that bad (says me). Chols sister Gemma came over and we ate and had a glass of wine and it was all very exciting but calm and relaxed, we all tried to go to bed. I probably fell asleep (…) Cholly was pretty uncomfortable and about 1am she got in the bath as the contractions were getting quite painful. She couldn’t get really comfortable so I inflated and filled the pool - with a degree of difficulty (obviously not having checked whether the hose fitted onto the kitchen tap – it didn’t - fortunately the hose was long enough to stretch to the bathroom tap, which did fit, thanks gods to tiny flats (piss poor planning and preparation, Turney!))
I guess she got in about 3ish. Candles, playlists of favourite songs, aromatherapy, herbal teas - all that shit. It was a nice vibe (!) Cholly obviously in quite a bit of pain during contractions but positive - We called the midwife about 5 and she came to find Charlotte was only 3cm, which was a bit of a kick in the nuts. She recommended we all try and go to sleep again - but Charlotte not really comfortable lying down so I got into the pool and she snoozed a bit on me. I spent most of the morning in there – in between topping up the pool and baling out some water! My hopping in and out didn’t really help the pool’s structural stability it was developing a bit of a wonk. By 1 she was at about 7-8cm so doing well, but by that point completely exhausted and dehydrated because she wasn't really keeping much down as she had begun feeling really nauseous. All of this was pretty horrible in the midst of such painful contractions the poor thing.
An hour or so later the baby's heart rate started going up and the midwife got a bit concerned about Chols dehydration. We were all pretty exhausted, and when the midwife suggested going to the hospital Charlotte found it a pretty easy decision I think because she was in a pretty crappy state. It had been a long night.
The ambulance came really quickly and whisked off Charlotte and Gemma and the bag to Kings, so I ran around in circles for a bit, then set out right at school pick up time so it took ages which was stressful as f*** worrying what might well be happening! obviously took ages and ages to park too (love London) so I had a fag (I’m obviously the hero of this story).
When I finally made it to them they had put charlotte on an IV drip and she looked a lot perkier later she had an epidural which conversely seemed to calm everything down and she progressed up to fully dilated without too much trouble (so it seemed to me!) It seemed like things were just going to be straightforward and it was all good and the midwives were all helpful and positive. Cholly started to push about 10ish and she was great and it was so exciting and everyone is getting ready, Gemma and I got really into the push push (I think by then I was pretty much - please can this baby be born and be safe and Cholly be safe and please happen now so we all of us have the chance to have a good night sleep!!…)
Around midnight the doctors made an appearance and seemed vaguely worried about progression and position of baby, but seemed to think we should just carry on. About 1.30 the surgical registrar came in and examined Charlotte and said that we should go to theatre to get the baby out, hopefully with forceps but potentially with a C-section!! They would only let one person into theatre so poor Gemma, after having been with us for the last 30 hours, was unceremoniously shunted out into the night.
5 minutes later I'm in scrubs and led into Charlotte on the operating table with all the bustle of people around her. She seems relaxed but I had a total internal freak out – bloody hell! Bright lights everyone in masks - worried for Charlotte, the baby, weren’t we at home a couple of hours ago with a cuppa? What the hell is going to happen? The radio is playing Toto by Africa in the background, the bright bright lights!! Why do they need all these people! I think I kept it together. Charlotte again amazing, said quite calmly and authoritatively "let’s do this vaginally please" and fortunately they listened, and so did baba!
At 1.51 out popped (literally) a little boy with a massive set of knackers and a hose like willy, to Charlotte's "he's got balls, he's a boy!" He looked like a little gorilla and was held up and had a bawl - before being shuttled to the paediatrician for 15 mins or so – which was a bit scary, baby Rollo please be OK baby Rollo, but the paediatrician lovely and calm and just being cautious - I blubber like a little girl, and manage to take some photos (!) just massively massively massively relieved and proud of Charlotte
We had 15 minutes of skin to skin while Charlotte was getting stitched up (!)… he opened his eyes and looked at me and... Oh dear. What a cutie.
Charlotte comes through with this happy serene face, Rollo gets weighed 3.9kg (8lb 1oz in old money) measured (massive feet - relatively) and put on his Mum. All seems well with the world, we sit for a bit, midwives calmly go about their business, everything feels safe and we have a beautiful little baby boy and charlotte is OK and so I suddenly start to worry about the filled to the brim, slightly listing, 70 gallons of pretty manky, tepid water in my living room. So I make my slightly sheepish excuses and leave them to get some sleep.
Coldharbour Lane, it's 4am, pretty cold but clear, and I've been awake for 62 hours and I smile at the people shuffling home - I've just got a son! I stop off for bog roll (?) at a garage after driving up an empty lordship lane at an inappropriate speed, and tell the fellow behind the counter that I have just got a son.
The flat is un-flooded which is a relief but the pool is sagging quite a bit - despite being exhausted, I start to drain it (without a pump which is broken), which I have to do by sucking on the other end of the hose while crouched by the drain in the garden. Tepid rather fetid water slaloms into my mouth and then down the drain. I feel extremely practical. I am woken about 2 hours later by the phone, surprisingly not my Mum (she must have had a sense because she rang just at the time Rollo popped out, I rang her from the recovery room), but Vicky who wanted the news to which I basically said pretty much what I've just told you, albeit a bit quicker.
I got back to the hospital about 10.45 (sitting in traffic pretty much the whole way - an hour and a quarter for a 4 mile journey...that's well under walking pace (love London)) after running out of the flat with a coffee and the bits and pieces that I had assiduously gathered on the request of my babymother. When I got to the ward they were happy and warm and comfortable and we had an afternoon of cuddling and cooing and baby loving. The docs and nurses did their bits and the paediatrician examined him and gave him the thumbs up (good strong neck I think he said) and we we're discharged. Very exciting it was to fit the car seat and pull off like driving miss daisy into more traffic and rain and temporary traffic lights and well, welcome to your home Rollo.
And then I did the washing up (won’t do that again)…
Jon, Cholly and Rollo! X