“I’m frightened” said my wife.
“Don’t be. Everything will be okay” I replied with a calming authority.
This conversation happened the day before our daughter was born, except some of the details are not quite accurate – It was in fact me who was voicing how frightened I was, as my wife reassured me.
Our daughter is two weeks old today, and enough time has passed now that the trauma of the labour is just a memory that I can recall rather than relive.
Why was I frightened? My wife had been having occasional contractions throughout the day on Saturday and it was all of sudden dawning on me that we were actually going to have this baby. The best way I can describe it is that I knew we were going to have a baby, but I didn’t know we were actually going to have a baby!, if that makes sense.
Because the birth of the baby was imminent I expect I was just having some last minute panic about being ready for what was to come. Had I had enough sleep to drive us safely to the hospital? Enough to eat to keep my energy up? And I genuinely woke in the middle of the night and realised that I had either forgotten, or never known how often you should give a new born baby a bath. My wife was nervous too, but she just had a better poker face. In her it manifested itself in her watching videos of the best positions to take when having a contraction. Knowledge is power.
As we waited for the next phase to begin, where the contractions would start to get more intense and regular, it gave us plenty of time to calm down and casually get prepared. And so we settled in and got on with things at a leisurely pace. We figured that in case we do have to leave in a rush we would take this time to make a list of things to do and remember before we left. Some things were fairly standard and obvious, like remember to bring the hospital bag, car seat and camera, the rest were the practical things you tend to forget when running out of the front door, like turning off the oven (if it was on), and feeding the cat.
I went for a run, and my wife listened to podcasts as she worked on a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, we even hung some curtains – I would go as far as saying that it was a nice and relaxing time. This however was just the beginning of the longest weekend of my life…