Adam Bird

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Hayden

I started writing a blog out of an interest in writing and technology, which over the past nine years has helped document events in mine and my family’s life. It has helped me come to terms with becoming a dad, a husband and document things that have happened, my role in them and its helped me learn more about myself as a man as well as a father. Except I’ve let life take over for a bit, more living, less writing, which is why there is a bit of a gap - a nine month long one.

After all, it isn’t like I’ve not had anything to write about, in fact I could easily have filled the pages of this blog with news on a daily basis, but if I had to write one post about the past nine months it would be summed up with the title of “Eat, Work, Sleep, Repeat”, all the rest is merely a collection of sub-plots, namely:

- Phoebe’s Little Sister Dreams
- Oliver's Footballing Ambitions
- Stephanie’s Birthing Nightmare

Which brings me nicely up date.

When we found out that we were expecting again, underneath the surprise and shock of the reality-hit, was the underlying emotional response to the news - fear of giving birth all over again.

It started with the result of the test and it built all the way up until the Monday evening of February the 23rd. As is now traditional, the baby had hit its due date and sailed right past it, warm and comfortable in the confines of Stephanie’s womb. We were sat watching a film called Fishtank, ironically enough when half an hour towards the end Stephanie’s waters finally burst - with it, nine months of fear escaped and a petrified mother-in-waiting took its place.

Being old hands at this racing off to the hospital lark I knew exactly what to do. With Oliver it was a hundred mile an hour dash of excitement as I brushed my teeth and packed a suitcase at the same time, Phoebe was more leisurely, but I was bitten by that experience, so with authority I readied all that needed to be ready, packed the car whilst waiting for the mother-in-law to arrive and to reassure a crying, anxiously shaking Stephanie who didn’t want to make the inevitable journey, efficiently or not.

We arrived at the hospital shortly before midnight, where Stephanie was attached to the usual machinery measuring contraction levels and the babies heartbeat. Rather than approaching the rather major subject of fear and how she might be made to feel more comfortable through pain relief, Steph decided to tackle the non-existent elephant in the room, namely how she might be able to give birth and not push anything else out at the same time, you know, that thing we all do anyway irrespective of whether you are a boy or a girl... but that, along with the current horticultural state of her ‘lady area’ were issues that were decidedly more important, and I had to sit and listen to them on three separate occasions with three separate midwives who probably have now, like me, finally heard it all.

Despite enjoying a rather entertaining hour at the hospital, we were sent home to wait for the contractions to speed up and were asked to return once they had, or if not, 24 hours later we’d be medically induced. Needless to say, we didn’t need to wait that long!

Having arrived home at 1am and returning back to the hospital an hour later and wired up again to the same contraptions we finally managed to talk about what was needed to get through the next few hours. It was a brief conversation, a simple ‘yes Stephanie no problem’ when the midwife was told politely “I NEED SOME GAS AND EFFING AIR!”

After what happened with Phoebe I knew that events were once again going to be quick. But after what happened last time around I felt the same level of anxiety that Stephanie had displayed earlier. I didn’t want to be put in a temporary room again, or the cleaning cupboard. I asked if there was room available at the inn, and there was - fortunately. The same delivery suite as Oliver was born in and with that my fears and worries, for the time being evaporated as suddenly as they had descended.

Phoebe arrived quickly, very quickly, whereas Oliver was a long drawn out affair. This time around speed was to play an important role.

Just as the nurses were readying Stephanie with various needles and attachments into the veins in her hand she needed to start pushing. Gas and Air was inhaled deeply and her breathing was fast and everything was as before. Stephanie had done this twice already and she was doing it brilliantly all over again with the fear seemingly gone and running on her maternal instinct.

Where I was standing I had the contraption behind me that was monitoring the contractions and the baby’s heartbeat. With Phoebe there was concern with her heart rate dropping and things got nervous for a little while so I was alert to what was happening around me. With Stephanie pushing and the baby arriving any minute now, things started to get tense.

The room filled with more people and the growing crowd at the bottom of Stephanie’s feet started to get more concerned. Looking over my shoulder I could see that the baby’s heart rate had dropped and it had been low for a little while. With a concerned atmosphere in the room I knew that they needed the baby out and quickly and as safely as they could.

The delivery suite is a chaotic place. It starts of calm except for the beeping of machines and the deep breaths of the mother-to-be. People come in and out and a lot of the time it is at a leisurely pace, at smoking pace if you were outside in the park and watching the world go by. Until the exact moment when the baby is visible, thing change, the energy levels ascend instantly and it all begins to happen.

It was all happening now, instruments were passed around, starting with small ones, big pushes and disappointed faces. Further instruments were passed along the line to the midwife at the front, getting bigger in size and more evil with their intention. In the background more people were arriving, they are wearing suits with hastily thrown on scrubs which indicate they are the serious brains and the go-to people when something goes wrong. They are preparing for all eventualities and this is all communicated in secret body language and signals as the worried looks get more anxious.

The only way I can describe what was happening is by reverting to slap-stick. It was a game of tug-of-war and the queue of people at the foot of Stephanie's bed were getting stronger in number, pulling one way as Stephanie pushed downwards for momentum. Further instruments appeared, more mechanical in look and ever larger. I had my head buried in her chest, half in fear and half in encouragement. My elbow was resting on her protruding stomach, which fell suddenly as the pushing and pulling finally met its goal.

We were told much later, that during the birth the baby was side on and they couldn't turn it around in time as they needed to get it out safely. Had the heart rate been fine, ordinarily they'd have taken Stephanie into theatre, had an epidural and made all the more comfortable before attempting to move the baby into position.

But with the baby now safely out, I didn’t know what we were having. Stephanie suspected, or she knew from peeping during an earlier scan. I didn’t need to be told once I had seen. We had another boy, who just as Oliver and Phoebe had before him needed some air inside his lungs before we could hold him. The atmosphere in the room, the energy, the nervous looks and glances and my relief that he was out expressed themselves in the form of deep, dry sobs as we waited to hear our new-born son cry.

I couldn’t watch with Oliver, I wasn’t in the room with Phoebe and I nor could I watch this time around. So I watched the midwife. The one with the posh voice who kept apologising to Stephanie in an “I am so, so sorry” voice, enunciating the “I am” as opposed to “I’m”. Her face was etched in worry, a concerned look which didn’t help me, but I needed something to concentrate on as looking at Stephanie would have been too emotional. With hearing the baby cry the midwifes face changed, she breathed out heavily and Stephanie and I did too.

She needed a little help after the events of the previous hour, so I went and met our son. The nurse was there holding the umbilical cord in her hand. I hadn’t the opportunity to cut the cord with Oliver or Phoebe, so this was a special moment for me. It might sound strange, but for me cutting the cord is a defining time for a father and to have missed out on all three children would have been a disappointment. But I did, third time lucky and I looked at him for the first time. With Oliver it was a shoulders out pride at a first born son and with Phoebe my heart melted in an instant. But right there, right then, the feeling was different, it was like everything made sense, the missing piece of the puzzle if you are a fan of clich├ęs - and it was. The boy in my arms, who looked like Oliver and Phoebe all mixed up made everything fit together as if we’d been waiting for him the whole time.

Hayden Aaron Bird. A second son, known for nine months as ‘Oops’ in loving acknowledgement to, as Stephanie said to me - the greatest decision we never made.
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