I make no apologies for throwing in a recent memory at this point. This is something which happened exactly three years ago today – the birth of my son, William.
Every parent will tell you that the birth of a child is a special thing, and try and convince you that theirs was more important and special than the next person’s. I am not going to try and do that. There are a lot of babies born every day. This, however, is the only one that I can remember.
It all began around about lunchtime. Caro was now ten days overdue and we had been called into the hospital to see if there was any prospect of her giving birth in the next couple of days. There were then a number of surprising events.
First of all, Caro was surprised to be told that the contractions she was experiencing didn’t mean that she was properly in labour. She was given the choice of going home and seeing if anything happened overnight, or being induced there and then.
I was all in favour of the first option. Aside from anything else, England were playing Samoa in the Rugby World Cup later that afternoon and I really didn’t want to miss the game. So I was surprised when Caro opted to be induced.
And then there was the surprise Caro got when the oxytocin kicked in and the proper contractions started.
Things after that all seem to run together, although in reality they took several hours – which I know for a fact because I watched the best part of three rugby matches on the television in the labour room whilst all of this was going on.
There were the odd funny moments, like when Caro failed to appreciate that you were supposed to suck the gas and air, not blow into it. Or the number of times that her mother – who was there as well – managed to be sitting at the business end when the doctors tried to carry out an internal examination.
But there were also the tough bits. Seeing someone you love in pain is never nice (although it was also funny watching her try and avoid swearing in front of her mother). Or standing there, watching the heart rate monitor go haywire with every contraction.
Fortunately, we had a wonderful midwife who spotted the problem. Even more fortunately, the consultant in charge of the maternity unit had come back into the hospital, seemingly on her way to a dinner party. She took one look at the readings and declared that an immediate caesarian was the only option, and that she would scrub in and supervise the operation, too.
Things then happened very quickly – well, apart from the bit where Caro had to consent to the operation. Despite the fact that she would probably have signed anything at that point – operation consent, bank accounts into the name of a nice Nigerian, letter requesting husband’s transportation to Australia – the doctors spotted that we were both lawyers and insisted that she read the form thoroughly. At the point that she signed, we were rushed down the corridor to an operating theatre, leaving poor Ann, Caro’s mother, in tears.
I was given a blue gown, head cap and clogs to wear. By the time they got me back into the theatre, Caro was already laid out on an operating table ready to go. Everything then went remarkably calm. There was a big screen over Caro’s midriff, so we couldn’t see what was going on. All we could hear were surgical instruments clattering, whilst the anaesthetist chatted and Caro anxiously watched the monitors that someone had thoughtfully left in her line of vision.
Then we heard it. A cry. THE cry.
Caro smiled for the first time since she’d been given an epidural about three hours before. The someone said “Well, that’s definitely a boy”.
Moments after that, a small bundle was placed in my arms. My first, unarticulated, thought was “Oh, sh*t!”. William’s first thought, on the other hand, was to snuggly up to Caro and try and feed. By sucking on her nose. The poor lad never did take to breastfeeding.
There was one more task before Caro was wheeled off to begin being a mother. William was taken over to a table under a heat lamp, where a midwife carried out a sort of MOT check on him, counting off his fingers and toes, spinal vertebrae and so forth. Fortunately, they got that bit correct, which is more than can be said for when I asked them to convert his weight in kilos into pounds, and they initially told us he as 10lb 10oz (which would at least have explained why he had trouble getting out).
I’ve now got three years of memories of William to write about, and I’m looking forward to many, many more years of them, too. We are trying to teach him not to be greedy, but I am not ashamed of being greedy for a lot more memorable moments with him.