This time a year ago I went into labour.
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those posts where I regale you with the gory details of Frog’s birth. I’m saving that for another day. No, what I really wanted to do was offer a word of advice to expectant fathers out there – or any other prospective birth partners.
You see, the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine shot into fatherhood with a bit of a bang – an “explosion” if you will.
Let me explain. It was 8 o’clock at night and my contractions were coming regularly, one on top of the other. This baby was coming and I needed a hospital. So, like the dutiful birth partner and expectant father that he was, the NLM merrily handled me into his unsuitable non-family car and set off for the Maternity Ward. There was lots of heavy breathing from my end and a bit of nervous laughter from his.
We arrived at the hospital and I trundled up the stairs (that’s a lie actually – I used the lift) to the Delivery Suite. The woman did her business “down there” and pronounced that it was still early days and this baby was not going to make an appearance any time soon. Great.
So off we were packed, back home, to get on with the business of dilating to the “correct” width for my pain to be taken seriously. And it was on this journey that the NLM made the error that has haunted him for the past year of his life. I’m never going to let him forget it. Ever.
I was in pain, you see. And I wasn’t particularly happy about being sent back home and told I wasn’t “really in labour” (it bloody well felt like it – if this wasn’t “it” how much would the real thing hurt?). I was tetchy and nervous and far from in the relaxed zen-like zone I had envisioned when drawing up my “birth plan”.
I felt hot and claustrophobic in this ridiculous sporty car that was too low to the ground, highlighting every bump in the road and intensifying the pain of each contraction. I couldn’t breathe properly. I couldn’t focus on the pain.
And then the NLM farted.
It wasn’t just a little trump either. It was a fully fledged blow-off the likes of which a P&O ferry would be proud of. And it smelt like rotten eggs and mouldy sausage. As a new wave of pain washed over me I had no choice but to take a deep inhalation of the putrid air around me. I couldn’t even speak to demand the window be opened.
And, rather than apologise and beg my forgiveness or make some feeble excuse for the wind that was causing me to retch through each contraction, the NLM made this statement:
“That’s your Gas and Air.”
Now, call me ungrateful, but I wasn’t really in the mood to appreciate his offer of natural pain relief. So, when the torrent of pain died away I was left with a burning rage. And it’s at this point that I would like to apologise to the people in the car next to ours at the traffic lights.
I’m sorry for the scene you witnessed which probably left you traumatised for life. I’m sorry for the screaming banshee who suddenly stuck her head out of the window next to yours, heaving in between the bluest language imaginable. You didn’t need to see (or hear) that.
But this is what happens when you mess with a woman on the edge.
So, to all you expectant fathers, do NOT let rip while your labouring woman is in the car with you. And if you really, really can’t hold it in – open the window. If you ignore these two pieces of advice don’t – whatever you do – attempt to disguise your mistake as a deliberate method of natural pain relief.
It’s not funny. And it’s not clever. You have been warned.