Labour - a partner’s perspective
If you need to read about a mum’s experience of labour you can find some real life stories here. But what about labour from a partner’s perspective? Now we’re not saying that the partner gets the short straw when it comes to labour. Of course we’re not! Mum does the hard yards and to be fair, we haven’t really got a leg to stand on when it comes to grumbling. But that said, the whole experience is quite an eye-opener for partners too. It’s one of those moments that will linger long in the memory in glorious technicolor. A life highlight for sure.
Although all labour experiences seem to be different, we thought it would be worth sharing some real-life stories of labour to give expectant partners an idea of what is to come.
For some inexplicable reason I took 24 little cartons of orange juice with me in case my wife got thirsty. In retrospect I might have been confusing labour with the London marathon. By mid labour I’d asked Cath (my wife) about 60 times if she wanted a juice.
"Will you (BEEP) with those juices!" was the response by then.
Our second labour was much slower. I ended up playing chess with a friend online and having to quickly finish it because the baby was arriving!
Our third one arriving coincided with a massive thunder and lightening storm, right above the hospital! Our little boy was born to the soundtrack of enormous thunder! It was like something from a Hammer horror film! We were both laughing about it during the birth. Me more so than Cath.
I was just about to leave the house to play golf when I walked through a puddle on the floor. My wife’s broken waters! At first I thought we had a leaky tap.
I then spent 7 solid hours making inappropriate jokes to the midwife. At one point I joked that it was taking too long and had a flight to catch. They thought I was serious.
To be honest, I had no idea what was going on. We’d done our NCT classes together and I’d read plenty about what to expect, but then when your wife keeps telling you she thinks she’s going to die, then they pull out a limp blue baby and whisk him away, I’m not sure what can prepare you. Such a relief when I heard him cry for the first time!
My wife then went and had a shower and the midwife handed me a baby grow and told me to dress my baby! I felt like I was putting a suit of armour on a butterfly.
Our second time around was a much more relaxing experience. I wore wellies, we listened to music, the surgeons high-fived half way through because they were proud of their work and I filmed wife’s open torso the whole way through. Just realized I’ve still got the face mask from that one somewhere.
My wife had a water birth that lasted for more than 70 hours! I was kneeling down throughout offering words of support and encouragement. After about 50 hours or so, my knees really began to hurt from all the kneeling! I asked the midwife if she could find me a cushion. You should’ve seen the look that the midwife and my wife gave me! I decided I could do without. In all seriousness though, my wife, what a warrior! I’ve got nothing but respect for pregnant women and the work that midwives do. Absolute heroes!
Stewart, Whitley Bay
We had a birthing pool where our kitchen table used to be ... but it had a puncture so would gradually deflate as the days rolled by, risking a tsunami of water crashing into our kitchen. My wife had air and gas and my reassuring words - that she was in control of her body and ‘baby will come when baby is ready’. No more homebirths for us.
My experience was all in Hungarian as we had our baby in Budapest. The big issue with this, from my perspective, was that I don’t really speak Hungarian so had zero idea what was going on. At one point my wife was making noises that I had no idea she was capable of making while three doctors went about their work. At one point it appeared as though one of them was pushing down on her belly as if she were a giant tube of toothpaste! It was like watching a foreign language war movie! (Shudder)
Throughout the whole thing I was holding my wife’s hand while Nessun Dorma by Pavarotti played in the background. I remember rambling on about a holiday in Thailand as she’d previously asked me to try and distract her! I’d also downloaded an entire series of Peep Show for us both to watch to pass the time. What was I thinking!? Needless to say that the iPad didn’t leave my bag.
When our baby finally entered the world, seven hours later, the emotions I felt were a mixture of euphoria and relief and I think I shed a tear or two. There really is nothing else like it! I was then asked if I wanted to cut the umbilical cord. I did with trepidation as it’s nothing how I expected it to be (it’s a lot thicker and tricky to cut!). The doctor then handed me our little girl and told me (I think) to take her to another room to be weighed. I had no idea what I was doing and this time it wasn’t related to the language barrier!
When our second little lady arrived two and a bit years later, it was so much easier! It only took two hours and we had an impromptu water birth. I just remember the doctor saying "She’s coming now," and being stunned as I was expecting to bed in for at least another five hours until she made an appearance.
Childbirth eh? Blimey.
Father of 2
Living in Budapest with his wife and two children, Gareth is a freelance writer, creative strategist, film maker and author of the ‘The Budanest’, a book about his experience of fatherhood. He gives us insight into parenthood from a partner's perspective: all views and opinions given are his own, taken from his personal experiences.