MAX & LINUS
As the husband of a BIRTHTALE midwife (the wonderful Rachel) I didn’t feel too worried about the impending arrival of our first baby. In fact as a primary school teacher and doting uncle it's fair to say I was very excited about having children. We’d been to antenatal classes and met other expectant couples. We had gathered a good supply of baby equipment and I had even made time to go to the pub with a couple of other local fathers-to-be. I was as prepared as any expectant dad could be.
It was a Thursday evening when Rachel’s labour started. I was fairly low on the detail at the time, but Rachel woke me around midnight. She told me that tonight was going to be the night, and that we needed to leave for the hospital now.
And that’s when our carefully organised plans started to slide somewhat. We had both been looking forward to a fairly natural birth. As I waited in the hospital room with Rachel and our midwife (the fantastic and amazingly calm Anna) I could tell that things were not going as planned. Despite their best efforts I felt somewhat like a spectator. Various monitors and what I saw as calculations started to raise the level of concern that both my wife, Rachel, and Anna were clearly feeling.
The decision was made to rush Rachel to the theatre for an emergency section. This was not part of our plan. I couldn’t help and didn’t know how to react to this and consequently relegated myself to the role of a bystander. Operating theatres were very familiar to Rachel, albeit on the other side of the scalpel, but were completely alien to me.
I watched from a safe distance a few feet away from the ‘goal end’ as a baby was wrenched from my wife’s body. I looked around the room which was full of medical professionals and beeping machines. A baby was passed to me, bloody, screaming and wearing a deeply unattractive green wooly hat. This was not how I expected to meet my child. This was not what we had planned. I’d been expecting my baby’s birth to be somehow more natural, and that I would feel more involved.
I was struggling to come to terms with what had happened and at this point realised I had convinced myself that our baby was going to be a girl. We had both girl's and boy's names planned, but at that moment no name seemed to fit. And there he was wearing the green hat, still slightly bloody, still crying and being placed in my arms.
The shock of the whole situation was too much for me. In this theatre of professionals (including Rachel) I felt very much the outsider. Although I held my son in my arms, there wasn’t the immediate bond that I had imagined. It was a world away from the images on adverts for nappies or those on display in Mothercare. It was the middle of the night and I was tired, scared and confused.
Family and friends came to visit the three of us in the morning. The smiles and joy of my parents meeting their first grandchild were enough to wipe away much of the trauma of the birth. I somehow made it through the day on a mixture of adrenaline, champagne and take away pizza.
But later that evening Rachel noticed she was bleeding. Heavily. A postpartum haemorrhage was causing her to lose massive amounts of blood. We called the midwives and she was rushed away back to the theatre. There was little time for explanations. The fear and feeling of being an observer returned.
I was alone with my son, Linus, I held him in my arms. One of the midwives came into the room and kindly offered to take him for me. I held him tighter and turned down her offer of help, rather sharply.
And that was the precise moment when the still slightly wrinkled bundle of pink flesh became the most amazing addition to my life. The moment when I began to love him with such a passion that I never believed could exist. The moment when he became my son and I would not let him go.
And now, twelve and a half years later, he is still the most wonderful boy in the world.