The drive to the hospital took about 45 minutes. The whole way there I was panicking I would miss it, oh how wrong I was. When I arrived, Darcy’s mum was laying in a bed, high as a kite on Entonox. Entonox, also known as gas and air, is quite honestly fantastic stuff if you don’t happen to be giving birth. Its a pain killer that you breathe in through an odd look tube, and it has some interesting side effects. It’s kind of like being on poppers except without the chance of getting ‘too relaxed’ in certain areas – your head goes all floaty and you start talking nonsense. I am told that in comparison to the pain of giving birth its a bit like trying to put a plaster on a gun shot wound, but for me sitting on the sidelines it was awesome.
The midwife said it was going to be a while and she wasn’t wrong. 9 hours we waited without an awful lot happening. Luckily I had brought my laptop along and Darcy’s mother slept a lot of it so I managed to get through an entire season of the walking dead. Weirdly enough, watching zombies rip people apart and eating them was not the most gory thing I got to watch that day.
As I got about an episode or so into season two, things started to kick off. I could tell because Darcy’s mother was awake and the abuse was starting to increase. Its amazing how the miracle of birth can changes ones perspective. Ordinarily, had someone called me the things she was calling me, id be inclined to take offence, or at least give her some abuse back. In this particular case I thought I’d keep my mouth shut and just smile nervously from out of arms reach.
Whilst the miracle of life is mesmerising to witness, I won’t lie, it isn’t pretty. I kept away from the business end unless I was told to come and see something important (the head, the legs etc.) and for the most part just kept on with the encouragement. The actual birth part of the birth only took 15 mins, and before long she popped out and the midwife literally threw her onto her Mother’s chest. She was perfect, gross, but perfect.
It’s a feeling I cannot describe, I was crying my eyes out looking at this little thing, trying to ‘un-see’ whatever it was she was covered in, quietly shitting myself as to what on earth I was supposed to do now I’m ‘a dad’ and yet, it was the happiest moment.
Afterwards there were various different bases that needed to be covered. Darcy was given a vitamin K shot, which, more than anything else, just makes you want to smack the nurse right in the chin as she flippantly jabs your new-born with a needle. Darcy was awesome and didn’t cry once. I cut the cord which was weird and spongy. I was surprised was how much of the cord is still there after you cut it. It’s not like you make a nice flush cut at the belly and thus produce a belly button, oh no, you leave about 5 centimetres of this fleshy cord on the belly and after about a week it sort of dies, drops off, and smells like a stretched ear lobe. The nurse (at my request) let me put on a pair of gloves and play around with the placenta which was covered in blood and had been ignominiously thrown in a bowl on the side like a spare part. It felt a little like a slimy balloon in water and was again, gross. Apparently you can do stuff with the placenta – it has all sorts of nutrients in it. Some like to bury it in the roots of tree, some slightly more insane people like to eat it which I find a little weird. I mean, are you supposed to cook this thing up in garlic and serve it with chips and a nice pinot noir? I didn’t ask, either way it was a no from me.
After her Mother had a rest, it was time for Darcy’s first bath. I felt a little bit like a spare part during this bit as the midwife came in and did most of it, I just stood around with my hands in pockets asking shit questions like why does her head look squashed and why doesn’t she have finger nails? I thought these were valid questions but the answers from the nurse had ‘shut your trap idiot’ written all over them so I went and got a bottle of tango orange from the vending machine round the corner. After the bath we had the photographer come round and try and take photos of us, Darcy’s mother and I both tried to hide our snorts as the dopey bloke started using phrases like “how about one of the happy couple”?
I sat there for hours while Darcy’s mother slept, just holding Darcy and experiencing all kinds of emotions. Her head was so squashed from the birth that if I closed my eyes a fraction she looked like Yoda. (I wrote as much in the baby book when we got home, Darcy’s mother was less than impressed). After a while, a nurse (that looked like like a bulldog licking a stinging nettle ((ok actually she wasn’t that bad but after she told me I wasn’t a fan)), came in and told me It was time for bed. I put Darcy down in the hospital cot and turned to the nurse waiting for some explanation as to where I would be sleeping. With no finesse at all, she told me that they don’t cater for Dads. I very nearly lost my shit and threw my tango orange over her head, but not wanting to upset the 15 other mums and new-borns, I left without argument. Not quite sure what to do next, I nicked a blanket off a trolley and went and kipped in my car. Mum and baby slept ‘soundly’ in the hospital, Dad slept like a bag of nails in the car. A perfect tableau to remind me where Dads stand in the scheme of things!