Saturday 1 December 2012

The Sunday Parenting Party: Our Birth Story - The Daddy's side

Taming the Goblin

Its time for the Sunday Parenting Party. Please link up your parenting posts - anecdotes, how to, trials and tribulations we want them all, old and new. This week I am linking a post by Hublet:
Our Birth Story: The Daddy's side. 
(Writing about when Goblin was -0.033 months) 

Hublet filling in again, it feels like I am the other Becky and everyone is acting like nothing has changed...

(TLDR: Monko gave birth) 

Over the past few years, when Monko has been telling others about the birth of Goblin, it has become clear that our recollections of the event seem to differ somewhat.
This is probably a combination of things, firstly it being different from each of our perspectives (as you will see soon, I was often chucked out and sent home by the nurses, 1800s style), but also I was pretty sleep deprived and Monko was dosed on opiates.

Since my memory is pretty flaky anyway, I thought it might be good to write down what I remember of Goblin's birth, if only so he can read it when he is bigger.
I will try and get events in rough order, so to begin with I will give some background of the birth plan prep during pregnancy.

As we are in the UK, we benefit from the wonderful NHS.
While it may not have the luxury and futuristic nature of private healthcare it is very good at keeping people alive without us having to worry about if we can afford the bill. The same goes for childbirth in the UK.
While you know you won't get a private room with a plasma TV, you do know that the important stuff will be done well.


During the early days of Monko's pregnancy we had hoped to have the birth in a local midwife run unit which has water birth pools and a more homely atmosphere while still being attached to a hospital in case something goes wrong.

We never considered a home birth, firstly because it seems like a lot of mess to deal with, but mainly because hospitals have all these crazy things like surgeons, operating theatres and pharmacies.
While your own pillows are nice, so is not dying.

This was all thrown out of the window though when Monko developed gestational diabetes and we were told that the birth would have to be in the proper district hospital.
This wasn't a big deal, particularly as I had started to get worried about the community midwives who seemed to randomly mix in pseudoscience with medicine.

An example was listing aromatherapy and TENS alongside epidural in their list of pain treatments. There is nothing wrong with placebos and making your room smell nice, but medical professionals really should give advice based on evidence.
I will add here that the actual midwives involved in the birth were really good, albeit very busy.  

Through a combination of the gestational diabetes, Monko's small hips, and my familial giant head, we were told that Goblin's head might not fit out so they were going to induce the birth at 39 weeks to prevent him requiring a C-section.

This was all rather fun, no panicked rush to the hospital, just an appointment to turn up first thing on the Friday.

I just had a look at our birth plan from the time, here are some amusingly unrealistic lines:
  • "I would like to be free to walk around during labor." 
  • "I will bring a laptop to entertain myself during labor." 
  • "If a caesarian delivery is indicated, I would like to be fully informed and involved in the decision making process." 
  • "I would like to choose the position in which I give birth." 
  • "I would like to have the baby in the room with me at all times." 

So on to reality.

The build up

We turned up at the hospital on the Friday morning with much excitement.  Pretty soon the doctors would give Monko the magic drugs and Goblin would be popping out.
"We should be home by tea time" we said like WWI soldiers headed for the trenches.

We were welcomed on arrival, and shown to the day ward where Monko was given a bed to wait on until the doctor came to administer the inducement stuff.

And that is where we stayed.

Apparently all the labor rooms were full and they didn't want to induce Monko in case Goblin's head got stuck requiring an emergency c-section while they were busy.
I was prepared for this though and got out my laptop for a West Wing marathon.

This sitting around continued until about 6pm when Monko was admitted to the labor ward and finally given her first set of induction drugs.
I stayed until 9pm but nothing was happening as apparently these things aren't as fast as on television.  

This is where we get to my big area of irritation with the antiquated maternity ward mentality.
After sitting with my wife all day, she was finally induced and the hospital chucked me out as apparently men aren't allowed to stay on the ward.
It is rather baffling after trying to get fathers involved with childbirth and their children to send them away based on an arbitrary time.
I am not asking for them to use resources or beds on me, I just wanted to be allowed to keep sitting in the plastic chair already next to the bed while we wait for my son to be born.
Similarly I wasn't allowed to use the hospital toilet, use their tap to get a drink of water, and the hospital cafe was only open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm as apparently babies follow office hours so I wasn't able to buy a drink either.

Feeling like a pariah, I took the hours drive home rather annoyed at leaving my wife in hospital alone.  

By contrast, when my father was in a coma in intensive care with a brain injury the nurses let us camp out both by his bedside and in the waiting room. Even bringing us blankets which we didn't expect since our presence was utterly useless.  During the birth I could actually be some help to support Monko but apparently the best place for me was in a different town.

As expected I got a call from Monko at 6am the next day saying her waters had broken and labor had started.  Her waters had actually broken several hours before but the coven had decided that I still wasn't allowed on the ward until 6 in case my manliness displeased the old gods.

Sixteen minutes later I had completed the one hour drive and was dashing into the hospital to meet Monko being wheeled down to the delivery room.
Over the next 12 hours there followed a gradual escalation of swearing, drugs and medical staff.

Monko was 5cm dilated at 7am which seemed to be good going. She was in quite a bit of pain but started out managing it just using Entonox along with obscenities.

Due to the gestational diabetes and the induction, Monko was hooked up to a selection of drips. In one arm she had the induction drugs and the insulin, in the other she had glucose. This rather limited her movement and made toilet trips a rather entertaining waddling conga line with Monko, midwives, drip stands and myself.

As the pain got worse, and Monko wasn't dilating more they started her out on pethidine.
If you ever get the chance I highly recommend this stuff, I had it when having my appendix removed and had an exciting few hours talking to my knees in a world full of clocks.
The pethidine seemed to reduce the pain for Monko but also made her puke.

Amusingly in retelling her childbirth story Monko proudly told her friends that she wasn't sick at all. I had to explain that not only was she sick, the midwives actually ran out of sick bowls and had to retrieve more from another ward.

By about midday Monko was on a birthing ball having me massage her lower back rather hard. In fact the next day she was complaining that she had these odd bruises and asked how she might have got them, I think her exact words at the time were "Push f*cking harder! No, lower!". 

Some time later, Monko gave up and asked for an epidural. The doctor said she could do it now but suggested to give it another hour and let Monko have some more pethidine.
Monko still wasn't dilating much more (she was at about 6cm) so we were already prepared for a c-section but left it up to the doctors.

Another hour later, still lots of pain and no sign of boy.
I should note that all this time Goblin has been monitored with lots of sensors and has been happily beeping away, there wasn't much going on with him though other than not fitting out of the only available exit.

It was at this point that Monko broke and demanded her epidural.
A very apologetic matron came in and told us that the ward was now too busy (apparently they need to assign you an extra member of staff when you have an epidural) so she now couldn't have one.
Monko responded with her best civil servant subtlety:


Matron fled the dragon and managed to get another dose of pethidine approved above the normal limit.

A while later though a friendly eastern European anaesthetist came in and shoved the requested needle into Monko's spine and all was well with the world.
She had her 4th drip now and promptly fell asleep for the next 5 hours, only sometimes waking for contractions.

 Since there was nothing much I could do while she was asleep, I sat and read my book while the midwives refuelled on the traditional nurse staple of tea and toast.

At about 11pm (yes, we had been there a long time) the surgeon came in, noted that Monko had only dilated to 7cm and decided it was c-section time.

We next get to the issue of "informed consent".
Monko had to be told of the risks of this surgery and then sign the forms giving permission to do it. Unfortunately Monko was stoned off her mind.
This didn't stop the doctor from doing the brief in full despite me having to tell her several times that, since one side of Monko's face doesn't work properly, her eye doesn't close and she was currently asleep.
I listened to the various things the doctor was saying, but since there wasn't much of a choice to make I put the pen in Monko's limp hand and puppeted a signature on the form.
I did ask if I should sign the form myself as next of kin as she was clearly non compos mentis but I was told that Monko should as she wasn't actually in a coma. Which I am sure is of dubious legality.

Things then moved fast.
Monko was whisked off to pre-op and I was taken to the scrub room to change into surgical scrubs and white wellies (which was a little worrying).

Surgery was to be carried out by a tiny Indonesian lady called Mrs Tint Tint (British surgeons don't use the title Dr.).  Rather than worry about the surgery, Monko and I spent most of the few minutes waiting for the set up giggling about her name.

Operating theatres are pretty strange places, particularly for routine procedures. There were about 10 people in the room, but most were sitting around the edge listening to the radio. Apparently this normal as a regular c-section only takes a few people and the rest are just there in case there are complications.  

Monko was already in place on the table with a screen up hiding her belly from her view. I sat at the head end with the anaesthetist.
Since she already had an epidural in they were able to just up her drugs and start cutting!

 It only took a few seconds for them to have Monko open, originally she had wanted to have the screen lowered to watch Goblin being taken out but the pethidine was still making her nauseous so she didn't.  

I scooted round, mainly to see Goblin for the first time, but also a little bit because you don't often get to see your spouse's abdominal cavity. I saw a load of medical stuff and blood, but also a small pink person being lifted out.

Being pretty tired, I didn't click at the time that the staff were saying Goblin wasn't breathing and that this is a bad thing. By the time my brain caught up they had him on the warming table, had blown air into his lungs with a bag and he was shouting in a suitably stereotypical manner.

Another thing I didn't really see the sense of at the time was the nurse counting his fingers and toes and feeling for pallet holes. I now realise that it isn't really these kind of deformities which are the big concern, it is that they can indicate other internal issues.

Goblin was all fine though, he weighed in at 3.82kg (8lb 7oz) and officially emerged at 11:37pm. He was wrinkly, covered in red goo, coneheaded (from being rammed into Monko's cervix for 22 hours) and lovely.

 Monko was allowed to hold him while being stitched up, but passed him to me as she was still spacey from the drugs.

There then followed a small whirlwind of activity while we were moved back up to the postnatal ward.  Goblin was put in his babygrow, we were chastised by a midwife for not having brought a vest, and I was instructed to go out and buy the largest underpants in Christendom for Monko so as not to hurt her scar.

Since we were back in the land of the midwives, I was obviously thrown out of the hospital less than an hour after Goblin's birth, leaving Monko high as a kite and too sleepy to hold Goblin, meaning he had to be taken off to the baby room by a midwife.
It was nice to feel included.

During the night, Goblin's sodium levels dropped and he was put on a drip and moved to NICU. He was put in a side room though as they didn't want his giantness to upset the parents of all the tiny premature babies which made up the majority of the unit.
Confusingly, once Goblin was in NICU things were much easier for me to take part as a man. I could come and go as I wanted, there was a visitors room and crazy luxuries like a toilet. I was able to feed Goblin (they needed him to have formula so they could measure how much he was eating for his sodium levels), hold him, and change his nappy.
Monko on the other hand was stuck 3 floors up so had to be taken down to Goblin for visits. I was still sent home at nights which is very strange.

Home is still all the same but you feel rather guilty watching films or playing computer games because you can't sleep with your wife and child in hospital.


I won't bore you with the next few days, it was mainly us sitting around waiting to find out if Goblin's sodium would improve and what it actually meant.
He was released from NICU after a couple of days so was back in the room with Monko.

Our top UK hospital tip is to develop a mysterious rash while on the ward, requiring you to be moved to a private room in case it is contagious.
It seems Monko was just allergic to something but it did help her get some much needed rest in those first few days.
After 3 days the doctors decided that there was actually nothing wrong with Goblin and some people just have slightly lower sodium levels than others and we were able to go home.

I got to take a very nervous drive home with my precious cargo and we sat down on our sofa, looked at our lovely little caterpillar, and said..

What the hell do we do now?
If you like Birth stories you can find my version of the same event here.
And here are my favourite posts from last weeks linky
And now to the linky


  1. I read your original account, and really enjoyed reading this version. My first baby was born in the UK, and it is definitely more comfortable in the US - especially since I've had a private room to recover in with meals delivered for me AND Mike instead of the high-risk unit recovery room I shared with three other women in the UK. There are things I really miss about the NHS, though - like that, when I had pre-eclampsia, they visited me at home for blood pressure checks and for those first well-baby checks. In the US, I had to take my two-day-old baby to a germ-filled doctor's office for a weight check.

  2. Loved reading this! It makes me appreciate my first birth experience in a German hospital all the more, and makes me hate my second birth experience in a Hungarian hospital slightly less. ;-) Thanks for sharing!

  3. wow - totally amazing to read this from a Dad's point of view! Would love to hear my OHs version of events for both of our baby's births... Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Amazing to read a dad's view point - although if my hubby would have written about mine it would have said "Bored, need a fag!" and thats about all.

    I'm linking up both my BS's

  5. Loved reading Hublet's birth story, what a lovely record it will be for Goblin. You guys did so well, how frustrating to be unable to stay and help when you would have wanted to be there. And what an amazing little fella you brought into the world :-) your story makes me realise that we were lucky that my husband was able to stay throughout, including overnight (although still no toilet and very limited food privileges!)

  6. I love the last line! I'm sure that papa (and mama) figured it out!

  7. It's amazing how moms and dads experience the same event so differently and that they still treat guys like they don't matter!

  8. Wow, this story is bringing back so many memories of my births! What a sweet (and expressive!) little baby- and with so much hair!!!! Congratulations:).

  9. So, so great to get a dad's perspective. Would be great to see more like this.

    Have featured at this week's Friday Baby Shower, thanks so much for sharing, Alice @ Mums Make Lists x


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