This blog has been written by a close friends partner. He open and honestly explains how he felt and coped with finding out he was going to be a first time dad after only a month of being together!
Thanks Dan, hope you all enjoy!!
I’ll never forget how, when and where I learned that I was to become a father. It’s probably easier to apply some context first of all- I had recently become single, I was using the dating app Bumble and I was ‘having fun’.
My situation: 27 year old, living (and working) in central London. I’d just accepted a fast paced, exciting new role in advertising and had just escaped a slow moving, boring relationship. It’s safe to say I wasn’t using tinder or bumble to find a girl to impregnate any time soon.
However, having landed on my feet receiving plenty of attention from ‘The fit but gobby blonde’ as I had subcategorised her amongst friends I was back in a relationship.
We’d been seeing each other for just over a month, I had even considered putting her on my Instagram so we were very much in honeymoon phase and if we were honest we knew little about each other deep down other than the fact that we were quite happy to rip one and others clothes off at the drop of a hat.
In September I went to a posey PR event through work in the equally posey area of Shoreditch and was pleasantly pissed on Whiskey Sours when I decided to call it a night. I arrived at my newly titled ‘girlfriends’ house ready for another cute night together. A drink, a film, something to eat then off to bed for more of what I was becoming very happily accustomed to.
“Take the dog out” she told me upon arrival.
No snog but OK, we are a month in maybe it’s ran its course I thought.
“And when you’re back we need to talk.”
Bugger, she must have read my phone again.
“What is it why can’t it wait?”
“Just go and we’ll talk when you’re back”
I phoned my best friend, I hadn’t cheated, I hadn’t been messaging other girls I had done none of the ‘go-to’ stuff she might have previously been able to pin me for, what on earth could be wrong? He (my best friend) couldn’t guess for me either so I decided to face her.
Strangely my first reaction was selfish relief, IT WORKS! My sperm is swimming in the right direction and all the rest of it. Selfishly and a sign of my maturity that was my first thought.
My second reaction was to ask my girlfriend to take another test, because of course she couldn’t have been sure, this had to have been a joke or a mishap, silly girl.
She proceeded to show me four ‘pre-peed on’ positive pregnancy tests. Damn she’s good.
My final reaction was to be deliriously happy, this was after all the girl I’d fallen so had for so fast, she was quickly becoming my new best friend and I couldn’t last a day without her. What I’ll always remember is her saying to me “I thought you’d be mad at me.”
Disclaimer: I’m not a great boyfriend, not perfect anyway, but the fact she was saying this tore me in to pieces. How on earth could I blame her?! Mad at you? Mad because you let me penetrate you? Mad at you because our Biology teachers were right and it turns out that condoms are indeed a true threat to egg fertilisation? If she was saying this for attention it worked.
It’s safe to say that at that moment, I knew this was the girl I wanted to be with for the rest of my life and thus carrying my child was an added bonus. A bonus feature I thought might not come into play quite yet, but a bonus feature none the less. My brain was now a cacophony of noise and worries, but over-riding it all was pure excitement.
I’ve grown up in a large and loving family, so there’s always been babies and or kids around, I’ve always been moderately aware of the fact that in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted children, probably from my early twenties onwards. I’m sure it’s my amazing childhood that’s played a big part in that.
That said, I did think I’d be having one with a girl I’d just met on a dating app, a wonderful girl, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t even think she was comfortable eating her dinner in front of me yet, let alone giving birth with me sat in the front row!
The opening stages of pregnancy were complete and utter hell. The Mrs had a pre-booked trip to Hawaii for two weeks, by this point she’d completely gone off the idea but I was encouraging her to go and after much deliberation and tears, off she flew to the other side of the world for two weeks, with my baby inside her.
What followed were two weeks of panic, more tears, falling out and making up and repeating the cycle. She was an emotional wreck, understandably worried at any slight change in her body and the peak of it all came when she started bleeding for a few days. A trip to the Hospital followed and a million teary eyed phone calls later, everything was confirmed to be fine and our baby’s first scan came at just 2 weeks.
We nicknamed him Popcorn at this stage, one thing I loved about pregnancy were the inside jokes and references that were between me and my partner, one of the joys of pregnancy is you are forced to share as much as possible. We shared already, but pregnancy without doubt brought us closer together.
Speaking of which, I got to know my future mother in law pretty well over these few weeks, due to the time difference I was finishing work and she (the girlfriend) was just about waking up.
Waking up meant I’d be receiving an earful of panic and worry and it was becoming increasingly obvious that my girlfriend was frustrated by being so far away from me. I didn’t see it that way I must admit I didn’t cope well. I needed someone to turn to, someone who understood.
My girlfriend was waking up to the sight of a thick dark blood coming out of her lady bit, and she called me straight away. I was in London half the world away and felt completely hopeless. She was upset and there was very little I could do other than use words to try and reassure her, truth is I was shitting myself. I’m no midwife but I knew blood was a bad sign.
I wasn’t swiping right and dropping one liners any more I was fully out of my depth. She was calling me and telling me how badly she wanted her mum and quite frankly I wanted mine too.
A second trip to the hospital followed and another day crippled by anxiety. I only ever pray when I want something, I bet Jesus is sick of me. “Oh here he is Mr part time prayer” I bet he thought. “Not heard from you since your GCSE Maths Exam pal.”
My prayers were answered and mother and baby returned safely after what felt like 87 years away. Never again.
The following three months were OK (ish) in comparison. Mostly the Mrs was throwing up and wanted corned beef all the time. Not ideal but a breath of fresh air from the initial chaos.
Birthing partners, here are a few of my personal key take-aways to keep you from going under in the first trimester…
· Morning sickness is real, NEVER tell her she is faking it!
· Hormones may vary from time to time. E.g I love you, I hate you and repeat.
· Your own feelings no longer matter
· No seriously you’re feelings are forgotten about, start getting used to it
The second trimester will be better I was promised, and it was in fairness. Time flew by and eventually she stopped being sick.
She grew, he grew, happily and healthily and he kicked and punched her tummy like a man possessed. Another thing I learned here is that women are obsessed by the whole baby kicking thing.
Once you’ve seen it once, twice, three times it’s more or less the same thing. I hold my hands up I got bored of acting amazed by something I’d already seen a million times.
“He’s Kicking Look”
“Oh yea amazing babe!”
“You’re not looking”
I was looking, I’d looked, I always looked I don’t have a death wish. I’ll always remember that part of pregnancy. Getting a bollocking for missing a kick.
It’s different for fellas though, undeniably so. We don’t get pregnant for one, I cannot and will not begin to imagine what it must feel like to grow a human being inside you. If God exists he most definitely is a woman. I think the truth is women are more fascinated by the kicky stuff because it’s happening to them.
That’s that covered.
My Mrs had decided that Hypno-birthing was the route of choice and I was fully behind her, fascinating concept and I could highly recommend it to anyone. Hypno birthing classes were 2.5 hours long, so I loved that they started at 6:30pm after a long days work.
I didn’t turn up one time because I’d been on a bender, I think this was my ‘shit birthing partner highlight’ although my better half may have other entries.
We learned how breathing through birth was the key to a calm and controlled labour, we meditated, I learned back stroking stuff. We drank tea and sniffed lavender oils. It was like Woodstock for pregnant people without the drugs.
I learned how to inflate a birthing pool and get the water to the right temperature. Soon, after weeks of preparation and explaining to our parents what Hypnobirthing was, we were ready to bring our boy into the world, in our flat in East London Which fittingly is where the origins of Hypnobirthing began.
That leads me on nicely to some other key takeaways for the second trimester fellas’s
· You still fancy her no matter how big she gets. Don’t you?! Yes you do.
· Her hair is definitely growing and her skin definitely looks clearer (to be fair it did)
· Turn up to Antenatal – if nothing more you get to look at diagrams of fanny’s
· Remember your feelings don’t matter, they still don’t matter, not one bit.
Birth didn’t go as we’d panned nor how we’d have hoped. I was completely prepared for it not going to plan, we had been made aware of the stats around a ladies first birth and preparing for the worst.
By this time my partner was so invested in Hynobirthing that it wasn’t wise for me to eve try and remind her that it was unlikely to go to plan, at least for her first baby. There were times when I’d think – Should I manage her expectations a bit more here? But on reflection what good would that do her? None.
Which is why when twinges did finally come I equally didn’t want to get her too over excited. “He’s going to be here tomorrow! I’m on the way!”
That text came from the mother in law, it was too late for me to say calm down and don’t get over excited because if nothing did happen in that immediate time I knew my girlfriend would have felt disappointed.
Too late, the Mrs was dilating and convinced that he was on his way any time soon. I probably sound like some kind of ‘early onset of labour party pooper’ here, if such a thing exists.
I wasn’t trying to burst anyone’s bubble, truth was, I’d listened to what the mid wife had said in antenatal and in Hypno, chilling was key, I knew that, we all needed to chill and the baby would chill and everything would be chill.
I looked around at the situation at hand, the whatsapp notifications from my girlfriend and mother in law. Nobody was chilling there was no chill to be found. I was excited and I could totally understand everyone else getting excited but I feared if we all got too excited, we’d be setting ourselves up for a let-down. I buckled up for a long few days.
My girlfriends waters broke, in more of a gradual trickle than like you see in the movies. We waited for her to dilate like a child waits for Christmas, but nothing came. I felt sorry for my girlfriend who must have felt so frustrated by everything and I did too, but I needed to try and keep my shit together for all of us.
I knew that a C section was plan B, but I also knew that my girl was so invested in Plan A by now that anything less than Plan A would be seen as a let-down. Hospital loomed.
In the hospital what can only be described as a shit show commenced. The nurse tried and failed to take my Girlfriends bloods, she couldn’t fit a cannula the needle just cut her hand and made a total mess. Given the circumstances the Mrs was at breaking point. She had just been told that our options were a C section tonight or a C section in the morning.
She was desperate to keep waiting for labour but the risk of infection was increasing with every moment that past. Time for a big hug and a team talk I thought. An emotional girlfriend, a tired mother in law and a looming emergency C section, comedy was my only output.
I stripped off, put on some fresh hospital scrubs and proceeded to pretend I was a junior doctor. Next door to us a lady was having a fit and here was me playing dress up. Sod it, it worked the Mrs was smiling away, the mum in law too and for a few minutes at least we laughed together at the situation.
Birthing partners take note, Humour is NOT always the option, there’s a fine line to tread. If you use humour and it works that’s brilliant. If you try it and she doesn’t laugh or worse, she gets angry, for the love of God stop! And commence plan B – back stroking.
Before I knew it we were being led to the operating theatre. My girlfriend was in full gown and they were prepping her for an injection into her spine. I felt completely helpless as they stuck the needle in and explained the side effects. I remember looking at my girlfriend sat on the operating table and I’ve never loved someone as much in all my life.
This is it pal, you need to look after this little lady forever, I thought to myself. And I will.
Ed Sheeran was playing on the radio, the anaesthetist was doing a sterling job of reassuring us both that all was going fine as they got started in chopping open my girlfriend.
11:55 pm, our son was welcomed into the world. 7lbs 3 ounces and he was perfect. I looked down at my girlfriend and our son and I knew the meaning of life. I’ve read blokes saying similar things and never bought into it. Experiencing this made me realise how lucky I am to have these two precious people looking to me for love and guidance and I knew that I had them to do the same.
I had the arrogance of Connor McGregor as I walked out of the operating theatre, I was the man and it was all thanks to my girlfriend. On that note I needed to find her, they’d wheeled her off somewhere and I was alone with our son, holy shit you’re mine! I remember thinking that. It took time to sink in.
Let’s have a look back at some of key takeaways for the final Trimester
· Patience is a virtue
· Stroke her back and rub her feet, don’t make her have to ask
· Get onside with the Mother in law (or whoever happens to be her assistant manager best mate, sister, work friend etc)
· You have successfully forgotten about your feelings by now, congrats.
A truck load of morphine and a sleepless night later we were on the maternity ward, I was being clobbered by midwives for wandering off with our boy but I couldn’t give a toss. I was proud as punch and the Mrs was paralysed so nobody could stop me even if they tried. I was walking around the labour ward with my son in my arms and there was nothing anyone could do to wipe the smile off my face.
In between feeds and nappy changes I was changing maternity pads, washing her down in the shower, all sorts I wouldn’t have imaged doing when we started exchanging pleasantries on Bumble less than a year ago!
The following two weeks at home would test us. Post natal depression is a real thing. Having already known that my girlfriend was potentially at high risk of suffering from Post Natal depression.
A number of factors contributed to my girlfriends suffering, she didn’t get the birth she wanted, she was struggling to breast feed, she was a first time mum and she was recovering from major surgery.
She couldn’t get up when the baby cried so I was doing most of the stuff for the first few weeks, that took its toll on me and I was becoming snappy. She hated me, she was paranoid, she was clearly going completely inwards on herself and after I’d realised that this wasn’t her just being a bitch, I felt so much for her.
True to form I got the mother and father in law involved. At first there was the initial ‘she’s always been a difficult one’ ‘Man up’ type stuff. But when my girlfriend started to say some upsetting things directly to her parents that really hit home.
I couldn’t be any prouder with the way in which she opened up about how she was feeling, and how she’s subsequently coped. From start to finish my girlfriend has been incredible and I can honestly say I took strength from her when I’ve felt down as a result.
Watching someone you love go through that is a strange one. I hated her through some of the times when she was at her worst. I don’t feel guilty though because she wasn’t herself. Literally that wasn’t her it was another person inside her body, that’s how I view it looking back. I regret not being better prepared for it though that’s for sure.
Before you knew it she was back to her amazing self, not that she ever went away, but there were times I worried she never would return. Things had gotten bad, the worst they could probably get without going into detail it was dark, but here we were with our perfect baby boy and we were a family.
Next time around I like to think I’ll be better prepared, it’s something I underestimated-the level of emotional support needed. Empathy isn’t something that comes natural to me and I like to think I got there eventually, but I had some shocking moments.
My girlfriend has the greatest gift of all and I’ll be forever grateful to her as long as I live. We’re not having another one for at least a few years though.