Two weeks ago I became the father of a beautiful baby girl.
Welcome, Gracie, to the world.
It is a strange and wonderful thing, this fatherhood lark. These first two weeks have been the proverbial emotional rollercoaster; not so much with ups and downs, but more of a permanent up with occasional plummeting downs as emotions and sleep deprivation kick in. This was no great surprise. We’ve had nine months of friends and family telling us what it would be like, and I’m grateful for being forewarned.
That said we were taken by surprise when labour began. Her Indoors had planned two weeks maternity leave before the due date, in which to finish nest building and generally get ready for becoming a mother. As it happened, on the stroke of midnight that maternity leave was due to begin, waters broke and 19 hours of labour ensued.
Seven hours of that labour was at home, with contractions less than 5 minutes apart straight away (I have a notepad with times of every one from midnight to 7.30am). I tweeted at the time It’s not much fun seeing your wife bent double in agony; it’s going to be a long night, especially for her…
The hospital wouldn’t let us come in until the morning. This would be normal for most labours, but the staff were subsequently impressed at how dilated Her Indoors was without any pain relief at all. I haven’t quite forgiven them for that (although they were terrific once we were admitted).
Not long now… Pretty harrowing, this labour business; epidural FTW! @clagnut
Finally we ended up in theatre. No Caesarian thankfully, just good old fashioned forceps. There’s something rather Victorian, if not mediaeval about yanking a baby out with forceps, but it worked – baby and mother were fine (if somewhat battered and bruised) – and a bloody mass was propelled over the curtain in the hands of doctor to mother’s chest. Some time later (seconds? minutes?) I was asked by the midwife “Shall I get your camera?”. Um, yes please.
A few days later we left hospital to return home. A joyous moment. Of course I’d been home a few times in between. We’ve never minded living opposite the hospital, but now it seemed like a particularly brilliant move. Her Indoors even walked to the maternity ward whilst in the throws of labour, and despite having a contraction in the lift up to the thirteenth floor, did so with barely a murmur. I’m so proud of her in so many ways.
At this point I should say a big thank you to the hospital staff, as I tweeted at the time Thank you to all in Maternity Services at the Royal Sussex County Hospital – you were wonderful.
So two weeks of paternity leave have passed. I needed it. We needed it. The first week in particular is just a blur, and the second was required to try and get some normality and routine in place; of course normal is somewhat different now, as is the routine. Right now life is lived three hours at a time, but it’s interesting how one starts to work around the feeds, and life starts to slot back into place. I still feel slightly disjointed from the world, but it’s a constant joy to see Gracie’s inquisitive face and feel her little hands gripping my fingers.
I must say its been a massive help having my wonderful mother-in-law staying with us these past few weeks. It’s what family is for, and would have been really hard without her.
Thank you everyone else for your kind and wonderful tweets, cards and messages of support and congratulations. And if anyone knows a way to search and archive @replies within a date range I’d be very keen to hear about it.