My wife had had an interrupted sleep, getting woken by a contraction whenever she managed to drop off. We spent that Sunday in limbo, unable do anything other than wait for the final call. This is a hard part about labour (certainly not the hardest!), there is no schedule, and that feeling of the unknown is nerve wracking and unsettling. We didn’t know what to do, nor how long this would last for. We continued with some distractions, a short walk to the local shop for the paper became a long walk and about 20 contractions. My wife baked a cake, taking breaks whenever another one hit.
Evening came and we attempted to get some rest. There was no sleep of course. Contractions were now becoming more of a burden to my wife, and the harder and more painful it was for her, the less it felt like I could do anything to help or make it better.
At 3.30am we phoned the hospital. It was time to go. It wasn’t this mad panic that I had anticipated, in fact, it was a relief. I don’t know exactly why, but I think that it was because it had finally started to feel like some order was returning; going to the hospital meant that we had reached the next stage, and someone would be taking control from here on in.
The rest of the night was a blur of assessments and waiting things out as things gradually progressed. It was just as tiredness of being awake for two days took hold, that the relentless stages of this runaway train hit us.
I cannot begin to describe how hard it is to see the person that you love so much be in such pain and discomfort. It’s not just hard, it’s excruciatingly, emotionally painful. At times I couldn’t talk as my throat was blocked by a cry trying to creep out. My wife was screaming in such a way I did not think she was capable of, literally pleading for help, and I felt more helpless than I have ever in my life. I so much wanted to end this for her, but I couldn’t.
It was after this point that things took another turn.
My wife was exhausted, physically. I was exhausted, emotionally. And still the hardest part was to come. The last minute of the labour was another blur. This time it almost felt unreal, and nightmarish, as the baby’s heart rate dropped and dropped. Everyone in the room began to rush around with great urgency, I watched my wife drifting away into another place as they dragged her, roughly, into a position at the edge of the bed. They quickly explained what they had to do, but I can’t remember anything of what they said. All I know is that out of nowhere I was crying uncontrollably and asking if the baby and my wife were okay. No one was answering me, at least I don’t think they were. My head was rushing at a thousand miles per hour, trying to understand what was going on. I couldn’t stop the worst of the worst thoughts coming. Were we losing the baby, this life we had created, that had got through so much already? Was I losing both of them? Everything that I had.
Forceps were engaged, and my wife instructed to give her all one last time.
“look down” a voice said. A small croaking sound suddenly halted all the chaos. A tiny hand reaching up. An eye blinking against the first light it ever saw. “look at her perfect little ears!” said my wife.