Cardiff Dad – Dad of the Month, September 2017

We love hearing from new Dad’s, and this week a lovely new Dad from Cardiff sent us this hilarious and honest article! We don’t know who you are, but after reading your story, we’ve decided to award you with our Dad of the Month title, for September 2017! Congratulations!

We’re pretty sure you will love his article as much as we do!

New Territory 

There was a moment five days after the birth of our daughter when I realised my life had shifted direction somewhat. I was walking through Riverside Farmer’s Market in Cardiff, with my mother in law, trying to locate a cabbage suitably shaped to sooth the soreness of my wife’s post-pregnancy-new-to-breast-feeding-breasts. That’s the moment. Right there. When I realised things had changed. Forever. I had entered new territory.

Cabbage, Breasts, and Mother in Law were words I had never expected to combine in the same sentence.

Rewind five days and I was sat poolside, not on holiday, but knelt beside the birthing pool in Room 14a of the Maternity Unit deep within the Heath Hospital in Cardiff where my wife was displaying superhuman levels of strength, grand chess-master levels of focus and a zen like calm.

Meanwhile, I was scrabbling around on my iphone looking for appropriate music to soundtrack the most incredible moment in either of our lives so far. No easy task, but pretty insignificant compared to the miracle my wife was currently attempting – to push another human being out of herself and into the World.

To make things worse my wife had asked me several times in recent months to prepare a playlist of “birth music” for the big day …and it was on my to-do list,”…right at the top…but it had not been done… the baby had come early, and now it was definitely too late. And my iPhone battery was running low. The pressure was on, I calculated this baby needed to arrive in 45 minutes if the music was to last the duration.

When the baby’s head came out it was face down in the water and I was about to dive in and save it (as if I was in Baywatch)  “It can’t drown” said the midwife anticipating my panic, “it doesn’t know how to breathe yet”. 

This was one of many miraculous, mind blowing revelations that had been blowing my mind ever since the NCT classes had begun. Stuff like the baby only seeing in black and white at first. Or that thing about the breasts being able to identify an illness in the child, simply through the contact between nipple and mouth and subsequently providing the baby with new milk, made with a slightly different set of nutrients, that can better help the baby’s recovery.

Mind. Blowing.

The midwives were incredible. There were three of them in action, like musketeers, all situated at the business end of the hot tub. Lined up like slip fielders. They gave feedback, offered tips, encouragement, direction and inspiration. #MidwifeSquad

When the baby finally arrived, I was keen to be the first to identify the sex. Keen to make some sort of contribution to this amazing moment. “IT’S A BOY” I said, at which point all three midwives and my wife turned to me and said, in unison, “It’s a GIRL”.

I had mistaken the umbilical cord for a penis. There was in fact only one penis in the room at that moment and i was it.

In my defence, our baby had a thick crop of black hair, spiked like a punk. My wife held her tight. They looked amazing together.

The birthing pool looked like a crime scene.

“Would you like to cut the cord?” said one of the midwives handing me a scissors and an opportunity to redeem myself. It was more an order than a question. The cord was underwater, there was blood and a substance known as lanugo clouding my view but I went for it anyway, I took three slightly ginger snips at it and eventually cut trough. It was far stronger than it looked.

The next few hours were spent with various experts trying to extract the placenta from my wife, an intricately delicate process, not unlike those soldiers who have to detonate bombs in films called “Hurtlocker”. When the placenta finally slipped out, I was astonished by the size of it. A nurse kindly held it up in front of me and talked us both through its design and functions. I had never so much as contemplated a placenta, let alone seen one up close. Further unchartered territory. The nurse asked me if I wanted to take it home. I declined.

The following 24 hours we moved around rooms and wards, as numerous medical professionals dropped by to measure and weigh, stretch, prod, poke and pull our brand new little girl. In one transit between floors, we entered a lift and in stepped an older, female nurse who saw our baby with her marvellous, full mop of hair, then took a look at me; “She’s got more hair than her Dad!”. 

Good to see that for all the pain and suffering they must witness, these nurses can retain a wonderfully British sense of humor. I looked at the mirror in the lift, and thought about my hairline.

The NHS is like a hotel with the best staff in the world, immaculate 5 – star service with a 24/7 concierge dispensing absolutely expert help, support and advice. The decor, food and furniture, however, is probably a bit more Butlins than the Hilton; walls in need of paint, lifts in need of service, toilets in need of a clean. And the grub in desperate need of a Jamie Oliver campaign.

Fortunately, I wasn’t allowed to sample any of what the hospital kitchens were serving up, because the catering ladies in the Heath Hospital behave like Dickensian characters from a scene in a Victorian orphanage, parsimoniously distributing the slop. Their gruel is strictly not for Dads.

“Tea darling” said one such member of the catering team as she entered our room. “Yes please” I said. “It’s not for you” she snapped back. “There is no tea for you, only for your wife. Partners are not permitted tea or any hot beverages, or any food. It’s not for you”.

Admittedly, I had not done anything anywhere near as heroic as my wife, but surely, they could spare a cup of tea for a partner who’d been sat in a plastic chair for 48 hours. I know the NHS is strapped, but a cup of tea is surely not too much to ask.

I went to get my car. Future dads beware  – parking is a mission at the Heath Hospital. Its like one of those Escape Room paces. Again, not as bad as going through labour but pretty difficult nonetheless.

I had a bought a new car. Especially for this day. And we had bought a new maxi cosy car seat. I unlocked the seat and went to collect my little girl. The walk out of the hospital is frightening. This tiny little baby, relying on us to look after her. The drive home was the slowest, most cautious ever. About 15 mph. The real journey though, has only just begun.

By Cardiff Dad.

*We’d love to hear from more Dad’s as we’re not in this alone! If you could like to send us an article or contribute, please email us at mam@mamcymru.wales

 

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