Keris Stainton‘s fortnightly column on married life…
I’m now 30 weeks pregnant (with our second child) and so my thoughts are turning to *shudder* the birth. (That’s the problem with pregnancy – towards the end, people say “Not long now!” as if that’s a good thing, forgetting the enormous and painful hurdle you have to get over before hitting the good stuff.)
I’ve got a home birth planned and, although I’m not confident that’s going to come off, I do know I’m not going to be there alone. I was worried, before I had Harry, how my husband, David, would respond to the whole birth experience, but he was completely brilliant.
A couple of weeks ago, journalist Simon Davis wrote a piece in the Daily Mail
about how men shouldn’t feel pressurised to be at the birth of their child. “…there is something extraordinarily beautiful, and primal, about witnessing someone you love giving birth to someone you also love but have not yet met,” he said, before adding that, while most men are “pretty comfortable with the hold hand, stroke hair, whispering bits”, the problem comes with all the other stuff that has come into vogue. “You see, it’s not just about ‘being at the birth’ nowadays, is it?” he says. “Oh no, far from it. No, you want us to ‘catch the baby’ and actually deliver it.”
I wasn’t at all interested in David delivering the baby – that’s what midwives are for – I wanted him there for me. And he was. Yes he held my hand and stroked my hair, but he also made me laugh, which was quite a feat, given the state I was in. He even recited (to the best of his memory) our favourite book, the one we’d been reading to my belly: Hippos Go Berserk. (“One hippo, all alone, calls two hippos on the phone…”)
Afterwards when, as I’ve said before, I was unconscious with an infection, David fed, took care of, and gazed gormlessly at the baby. And then, when I woke up to find I was starving and the hospital had no food (can you believe it?!), he went to the garage and got me a sad-looking sandwich and a Mars bar.
Contrast this with a former colleague who not only did a full day’s work while his wife was in labour (“She’ll be ages yet!”), but then sucked down all the gas and air (until it was confiscated) and then ate the sandwiches his wife had packed for herself.
So while I’m still dreading the birth, I feel lucky knowing that David will be there for me every step of the way. He can’t take away the pain, but he can make it easier to bear. And if things get too rough, I can always inflict a little on him too…