Today marks one month since Emily was born. I can barely believe it myself. She's already taken over our world. To mark the occasion, I thought I'd share something rather special with you all. A while back, just after I wrote my birth story to be exact, I asked David to write his take on it. It took a bit of reminding but this morning I found it in my inbox. Unsurprisingly, it brought me to tears. You may find it interesting, as I did, to read the "other side" of the story - everyone says men feel helpless during the birth, but what exactly goes through their minds?
"I always expected that assisting at the birth of my daughter was going to be a surreal, if not almost an “out-of-body” experience. As much as I enjoyed the final result and as in love as I am with my daughter, I don’t think I want to go through that sort of experience again anytime soon.
"If I could summarise the experience in a few words they’d be “worry”, “helplessness”, “determination”, “hope” and finally “joy” and they are in order (although the first four are just one big hotch-potch of emotion coursing through your being throughout).
"From when Clare went into labour the mix of worry and hope dominated my being. It is absolutely awful to watch the person you love beyond comprehension go through any sort of pain, but this was just another level. The most disturbing part for me was knowing that there was nothing I could do about it, and very little I could do to help. The helplessness made me angry, the anger made me determined and the determination actually helped me to try and be as supportive and as useful as I could be. At that stage anything is better than nothing. I wasn’t doing much, but by helping Clare concentrate on her breathing I seemed to be helping and that alone kept me sane.
"I’m a worrier by nature, and for those of us who worry, this event is pretty much up there in terms of levels of importance. Is my wife going to be OK? Is the baby OK? All questions that ran through my mind a million times a minute.
"But Clare was a trooper, she dug into reserves I hoped she’d have and when it seemed like those reserves were running low then she’d dig some more. In all honesty, I couldn’t have done it (it’s a cliché but its true – and I consider myself to have a high pain tolerance). I couldn’t have come anywhere close to doing it but as much as I hated seeing Clare hurt, I would’ve hated not being there to help her through it, so I stuck by her every second of the experience. She was my focus.
"When Emily was born I cried. In fact, out of the three of us I was the only one crying (Emily screamed once and then pretty much went quiet). She was perfect (they both were), 10 fingers, 10 toes, a fully formed body, strong beating heart, and a beautiful face that takes my breath away every time I look at it. I cried with joy and then I cried some more with relief. My baby was here and she was healthy, my wife had had the natural birth she wanted and she was healthy too.
"I couldn’t believe it when the complications started to develop. It just seemed so trivial to get stuck on the third stage. An unjust, ironic, slap in the face. I knew how dangerous it could be but I kept my head down, concentrated on Emily and prayed. Clare again was such a trooper, braving her fears. I can’t explain how proud of her I am for having gone through it all the way she did. Not once was she selfish, not once did she shy away from her responsibilities as a mother, she took it all on the chin and stayed strong and focussed. She countered everything they threw at her and when things finally resolved themselves, and Emily could go back into her mother’s arms a wave of exhaustion swept over me. Rich, I know, that I should say that I was exhausted by it all, but I was. You are so emotionally invested in it all, it is so nervewracking being there for all of it and being able to affect absolutely nothing (except for maybe, your partner’s mood).
"Sure, I made Clare smile (even laugh) a couple of times, I held her hand, I pushed (yes, stupidly, I was pushing, don’t ask me why, but I thought it was appropriate at the time) when she pushed at the end, but the credit for this lies squarely with her. I was a spectator at the birth of my daughter. Clare did all the work and delivered us with a healthy, perfect, baby daughter. For that, she will always have my gratitude, my love and my admiration.
"I have two beautiful, high maintenance (I complain about it but deep down I wouldn’t have it any other way) women in my life and I feel like the luckiest man on earth."
I don't think it needs to be said - Emily and I are the luckiest girls alive ;)
This blog is now closed. The story continues over on Flip Flops and Flying Carpets.
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for reading.