Tag Archives: Dad Stuff

5 years ago.

image

Last night, we had my mate Phil and his family round. Towards the end of the night, we watched some old camcorder footage of times we have shared and of our daughter when she was 1 0r 2. We began talking about when my daughter was born and Phil said his presiding memory of their first visit to our house after the birth was that our house was so peaceful. This got me remembering…

Just over five years ago, my wife Lisa gave birth to our daughter in our bathroom. I look back on the birth with wonder and pride because it was such a great experience and because we did virtually the whole labour without anyone else around. We had opted for a home birth as, after doing a hospital visit, Lisa realised that home was where she would be most comfortable.

The night before, we had been watching Eastenders on the tv, but Lisa felt uncomfortable and went to bed early. Around midnight, we called our midwife to announce things were happening but she told us to go back to bed. (I should say we chose our midwife because she is lovely, wacky and very relaxed and makes you feel confident and able). She then decided to pop round anyway,  just to tell us in person to get back to bed! She left our house telling us that she would be in touch in the morning.

So, it was just Lisa and I at home. Lisa labouring in our bed. We hugged through the contractions and slept in between. This being our first baby, we had nothing to compare with and just presumed that things were moving steadily, but with Lisa slightly fearing that things would ramp up at some point. Every now and then, I would bring Lisa some iced water, or carry her to the loo, or give her a back rub – and the night just seemed to pass, both of us sleepily excited. Throughout the entire labour and birth, Lisa had no ‘medical’ pain-relief. I say ‘medical’ because one of the things we had learned was that if a mother is relaxed and supported, then her body will flood itself natural pain relieving hormones.

Around 8.30am, our midwife rang to see how we were getting on. I said that things were fine and that Lisa was managing her contractions but I had no idea how far things were.Our midwife said she would pop to the hospital and then come over. Around 9.30am, she arrived after having an argument with a hospital staff member about parking. She walked in without her equipment as it sounded like things were moving slowly, only to find Lisa was very close to giving birth! She ran out and came back with her equipment, but then she did nothing with it (- another reason why we wanted her. She was very hands-off and could see how things were progressing just by observing).

Long story short, our daughter was born in our bathroom only 45 mins later. Lisa had her head on my shoulders as our daughter was born and within a short space of time the two of them had their first bath and feed together. In the meantime, the midwife and I made the bed and tidied up and then we all celebrated with cake and champagne! The midwife left and, within an hour or so, it was just the three of us in our bed, Lisa and I just grinning in wonder!

And we stayed like that for a good fortnight. Visitors were kept to a minimum. Lisa stayed in her pyjamas. The curtains stayed drawn and the house was peaceful. Yes, we upset some people who didn’t understand why we weren’t letting them just walk in, but this was important to us. They got to see our little girl eventually, and it didn’t seem to matter after that!

Lisa is now an antenatal teacher, doula and champion for home birth, such was the impact that the experience had. As for me: initially, I told everyone I met every single detail about the birth until Lisa told me to reign it in a bit! And I did come to realise how difficult it is for some parents to hear our story when they have had emergencies during birth or other difficult experiences of birth. I know that somehow,things just went right for us – but I also think we’d managed to make the right choices for us as well. And I do believe that if a mother would feel safest and most relaxed in hospital, then that must surely be the right place for them.

But I also chose to talk about this in this blog because a few of our friends are/have recently been pregnant, and talking to them I found a common thread. People seem to love telling pregnant women their horror stories! Why this is so is beyond me. But it makes me want to tell our story. And to keep on telling it. Again and again. And hope that at least one person/couple is made more relaxed ahead of their birth having heard a good story.

As a dad, I want to tell our story because I was fundamental in the birth. It was a shared thing and I had a key role to play. I wasn’t a spare part, I was involved in every contraction and am so glad that I was.

I want to tell our story. Not to brag, and certainly not because we really knew what we were doing, but because we are evidence that births can be, and often are, an amazing experience.  If anything helped our birth, it was the positive guidance and support we received from our friends, antenatal teacher and our midwife,  and most importantly: Lisa’s and my belief in each other.

Five years on, I am still inspired by that day and by Lisa’s strength, courage and dedication. And I still grin with wonder!

 

 

Riding without Stabilisers

Today, a very good friend of mine – an idiot called Bob – ran the Brighton Marathon. Next week, he will also run the London Marathon. All in aid of ‘Children with Cancer UK’, and you can sponsor/donate if you follow this link. But just to recap – Bob is doing two marathons a week apart. And I have no doubts he’ll do it.

Bob is one of a select bunch of friends and colleagues who I love because they are all about encouraging others to be the best they can be. I mentioned yesterday that my wife has taken to running in a big way. A large factor in this was Bob, who has encouraged her and gently pushed her to going further and faster in her running. She recently ran a half marathon after having entered a few 10k races. If you had said to her a year ago that she would run a half marathon, you’d have been called an idiot (probably).

I have another very good mate, Phil, who has done the same for me. We’ve done loads of mountain challenges together, and Phil got me round a mountain marathon orienteering challenge whilst I had suspected bronchitis! He has been a constant encourager with regards to getting fit but also with challenging myself in all areas of life, and his favourite phrase is ‘What’s next’? Whatever you achieve, he wants you to think about what your next challenge will be.

Today, I took my little girl out for her first bike ride without stabilisers. At first she wanted me to hold her arms as she slowly pedalled. I pointed out that she’d need a little speed to balance. She trusts me, so she sped up a bit. Soon, she was riding with just one of my hands holding the back of her hoodie. She could actually ride better than she realised, because I was barely providing any support. Every now and then she noticed this and, in order to test that I was still supporting her, would lean to the side so I had to take her weight. If I told her that she was doing it all on her own, she wobbled.

Whilst I was running alongside her though, I thought of Phil and Bob and other encouraging friends. And I was glad that somehow, I was instilling belief into my little girl. I know it might seem a bit dramatic – most kids learn to ride a bike around her age. But I was thinking beyond the bike riding. I hope to be someone she looks back on as an encouraging friend as well as dad. I hope to be a dad who made it safe for her to muck up and fail. One who spurred her on to be confident and excited about what she might achieve.

One of my proudest ever moments was taking her ice skating for thevery first time a couple of months ago, and on her second or third lap she suddenly started doing these awkward little split jumps as we skated round hand in hand, each one coming with the slight risk that we both fall down and I crush her little body under my weight! I asked her what made her start jumping and she just smiled and said ‘The idea came in my head, so I thought I’d try it’.

That’ll do me.

By the way – Bob, I hope you have a really great race on the 22nd. You idiot.

http://www.justgiving.com/Bob-Smart