My wife Katia reckons the pain is forgotten immediately upon holding the precious newborn. Which is just as well, she says, as it is considerable. If our memories were greater, maybe our numbers would be less.
I however had not forgotten the pain. It had been three years since our boy clawed his way into the world at the conclusion of a harrowing 26 hours. It seems petty to talk of my discomforts when compared to the mother, yet they do exist. Being helplessly embroiled in the suffering of a loved one is no fun.
But, though the memory was dim, we’d been through it all before. We knew what to expect, and dared even to hope for better. Tales of subsequent newborns sliding out scarcely noticed whilst the Mum went about her daily business seemed far-fetched. But there was no doubt that the trend was for a less laborious Baby 2.
As with our firstborn, Baby 2 chose a most inconvenient time to start his home run. The fireworks started at 2am. A friend arrived not long after to baby sit, and we were at the hospital by 5.
We assumed the positions – Katia on the bed and me seated impotently alongside. Memories from three years earlier began to flood back. Various switches, gauges and vials at the bed head. A gas cannister on the floor. Noises of immense discomfort. And a growing tenseness as the hours dragged by.
Frustrated at the perceived lack of progress, we tried various different body positions. Nothing however seemed to expedite proceedings; we just had to tough it out. My wife was clearly exhausted and I found myself full of admiration at her fortitude.
After what seemed an eternity, things suddenly began to hot up. Contractions were coming more rapidly than ever. Indeed, events had accelerated to such a degree that it was now too late for the nirvana-inducing epidural. I dampened a flannel once more and held it to my exhausted wife’s forehead. Please let it come soon and for all to be well, I prayed.
A few minutes later, at 8am, the midwife made the announcement we were hoping for: “I can see the head!” Adrenaline surged and my tiredness was forgotten. “Go Katia, go, go, go”, I muttered (and other such inane encouragement). I checked the settings on my camera, determined to capture the upcoming amazing moment.
The instant when you see your child for the first time really is something special. There’s no need for details, but it was with awe that I watched the milky-black head appear. For some inappropriate reason I was reminded of the movie ‘Alien’.
The long drawn out trial now culminated in a flurry of activity. Our long surprise as to baby’s sex was a surprise no more. There was a cord that needed to be cut, which felt a most unnatural action to me. (Akin to using scissors to lop off a limb). With unsteady hands I had to take care not to decapitate the genitalia. Finally there was the joyous crescendo of passing the child to his mother, and announcing that she had a baby boy.
The trial was all forgotten, and, for just that moment alone, it was all so very worthwhile.