The contractions began in earnest Wednesday evening, none of those Braxton Hicks affairs, actual, ‘ooh, these hurt’ ones -get me with my ‘Braxton Hicks’ as if I’m some sort of bloody expert. These are, essentially, test contractions… I have to say you learn a lot of new words during this pregnancy lark, not that I can think of any at this moment.
Luckily I was a bit pissed so it wasn’t until the following day the gravity of what might actually be happening began to sink into my psyche. It still didn’t seem real, so I did my best to sort-of put it away. That Thursday evening I spared myself too many glasses of the shitty vino from Tesco, just in case… On Friday morning at 5.30am I woke up in an empty bed with the better half mechanically getting dressed, ‘we need to go to the hospital, now,’ she said with disturbing calm. I really didn’t want to.
Recalling the hours and hours (and bloody hours) that followed the short 6am cab ride to the maternity wing are akin to re-imagining that peculiar mental space that follows a deep dream-laden sleep during which one’s mind attempts to grasp broken narratives and assemble profound, sinister imagery. There was this imposed timelessness that made everything weird and unfamiliar. Against my better nature I tried to read ‘In Plain sight’ (that book about Jimmy Savile) while the back of mind distracted itself by asking why I was reading ‘In Plain Sight’ (that book about Jimmy Savile) on a maternity wing. After a while the back of my mind took precedence. That and that constant disruption from materteral midwives, and my poor missus groaning in agony, wasn’t conducive to reading about a bloke I’d always suspected was a wrong cock.
At 4pm we were transferred to another room (just as spacious, albeit a little more austere) in order for the better half to receive an epidural. Here on in she’d be confined to bed and both her and the unborn child monitored closely. Time continued to move at its own soporific pace, day turned to dusk to night, Savile abused some more girls, I made yet another trip to the Costa/WH Smiths on the floor below and, mostly, fretted. Around midnight, having been in the hospital for some 18 hours already, we were informed that the contractions had begun to slow -not increase as is the norm- and the whole aspect of our predicament took on a very dark turn. Suddenly there were mutterings of an induction (or something) and another drip was hastily attached, the activity in our room intensified along with our concerns, at 1.30am a doctor and one, two or even three midwives began to fuss about my recumbent missus. ‘We need to deliver this baby now,’ said the doctor to her charges. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be sick, I decided that I shouldn’t as it might be seen as counter-productive. I literally thought that, by the way.
On strict instructions from my missus I remained away from the business-end of things, I turned my back on all that stuff downstairs and faced the better-half as she tried to push. Being full of narcotics she couldn’t actually feel anything so was reliant on what she’d been taught in one of those endless pre-natal classes, and not me weakly saying ‘push’. The doctor encouraged her to push with more conviction so she continued to push away as I forced my gaze away from the strange splishy noises southwards. There was a fuck of a lot of red in the corner of my eye.
I wasn’t sure if I was in a position to comment on how things were going when the doctor asked if it was okay if they ‘helped things along’. What do you mean? Forceps? No… Apparently the baby has turned around, throughout the entire pregnancy its been the right way, now, right at the bloody end, it’s back is pressing against its mothers spine. This isn’t good.
Are we going to have a C-section? PUSH! PUSH…!
Would you like the baby, on your tummy? What me? Why would I want a b…
The baby was just lying there, crying loudly on his mum’s tummy, I lost my shit for a moment. I cut his cord with remote viewing which spurted blood all over the blood that was covered in more blood. The room looked like a cow had been hit with a mortar round, the missus looked like she was radiating ethereal light, I looked at everything, I saw the two-foot long stainless steel forceps just out of reach of the smiling doctor. It was properly fucked-up; it was 2am.
I really can’t remember what happened immediately after this, we went downstairs and wound up on a ward by the window and Flora, the lovely big midwife who’d been looking after us all night long, kissed my wife goodbye and went on her way. Christ, what if it’s deaf?
Throughout the night, then morning and finally the afternoon, people came and went, checking in on us and the baby who was sleeping in a little see-through cot. Or blind. I drifted in and out of sleep. Okay, it’s def. not deaf, they just tested… Is it blind though? ‘Probably not’, the doctor said. But it still might be. Fuck, that’s my son! There, sleeping in a cot! And not deaf (and probably not blind).
Over 34 hours later, we were allowed to take our baby home. I called us a cab and 20 minutes later we were walking through the front door with our son asleep in a car seat. How had this happened? (That was a rhetorical question employed to convey an ethereal sense of disbelief. I can assure you, I know exactly what had happened so don’t write in.)
It’s not blind by the way.