MAX & ELSA
My son’s birth had been the most traumatic moment of my life, so as the birth of our second child approached I had some anxieties. Following his complex birth Rachel was officially ‘high risk’. Fortunately my amazing wife (Birthtale’s own @rachel) was less worried and was confident everything would be OK. And the wonderful staff at St John & Lizzie’s supported our decision to go for a natural birth.
By the time I had come home from work Rachel knew things were starting to happen. I put our son Linus to bed, and wondered what to do. Fortunately Rachel had everything in hand and her parents and a friend/colleague, Kirstie, soon arrived at our house.
The next few hours passed in a bit of a blur. I remember driving Rachel to hospital, and arriving just before midnight. It was fantastic to see so many friendly faces at the hospital (Rachel’s colleagues) and be in a place that felt safe. Maybe as a consequence of how things had gone last time I slightly disconnected myself from the process. Or maybe it was just the consequence of juggling work, fatherhood and sleep over the last few days. Either way I felt a bit of a spectator as things began to progress.
Our midwife was Becky. A friend of Rachel’s who had a fantastic combination of calmness, expertise and humour. She supported and assisted Rach through the next couple of hours. As things became more painful she rolled in the entonox gas cylinder for Rachel. Keen to be a part of the process I had a couple of hits myself and felt instantly more relaxed too!
Labour progressed quickly and my next memory was Rachel in the birth pool. She was holding my hand and breathing in a measured and controlled way. And then she was there! Our baby. Elsa!
We always joke with Elsa, telling her how she came from mummy into the pool and swam her way to the surface. It certainly was a remarkable birth, a thoroughly calm, natural and positive experience.
Elsa slept on my chest for a few hours that night, until it was time for us to let friends and family know about her arrival. Her big (19 month old) brother came in to see her later that day and was impressed to see his sister had had the foresight to buy him a toy taxi and bus. She obviously knew him well.
Generally we can’t control the way children come into the world. We can plan for the birth but often have to accept a very different reality. However, I do think we can control how we and those around us react to the birthing process. As a teacher (and parent) I’m fully aware of how children learn and pick up behaviours from those around them. Clearly new babies are aware of their parents anxieties and stresses too. But when does that start? No one can remember their birth but Elsa has I believe, ‘inherited’ characteristics from the wonderfully calm, confident relaxed and good humoured atmosphere of her birth. Now, as she approaches the teenage years, she has her moments where she’s not so calm, but nearly twelve years later she is still the most wonderful girl in the world.