Sunday, 6 June 2010

Diary of an Expectant Father (Part Two)

In the second of a short series of stories of the nine months before my eldest was born, let me tell you about our second ante natal class. (I told you it was a short series).

Can I take you back to the summer of 2003? It was a scorcher. We had weeks of unbroken sunshine and high temperatures. My bundle of joy was due at the end of September, so AJ was in full bloom during the really hot summer months. We still have the fans that we bought to help her through the days and nights lurking in a dark cupboard somewhere. I don't think we've needed them since.
We were invited by our local PCT to attend ante natal classes for 5 Tuesdays starting with the first Tuesday in August. The first one was the one that everybody expects. You know the one. Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. Well, we were in a class with 11 other couples (actually 10 couples and 1 mum whose partner couldn't attend but who had had children before so was just having a refresher). The room we were in was like the village hall only much much smaller. We just about got 25 of the chairs around the outside of the room. there was a variety of seating. Some of the hard orange plastic type but also some upholstered with arms that had obviously been donated by people wanting to send their furniture that was being replaced to a useful home. There was certainly not enough room for 12 ladies with child to lie down in comfort. Luckily, due to the beautiful weather we were able to take the class outside. It was like being back at primary school when the teacher decides its to hot to work so we will go and do some research on our local environment, while playing rounders or reading a book. It was such a beautiful day and the breathing exercises and relaxation techniques really did their job. I didn't quite fall asleep but i wasn't far off.

Move on a week. The mercury was rising.and it was a very busy period at work. In fact, it was so busy that there had been at least three days that I hadn't been able to scrounge any dinner (that's lunch to anyone living south of Watford Gap). One of these days happened to be the day of our second ante natal class. I just about reached home in time to pick AJ up and take her straight to the class. She had a butty on the way but I still hadn't eaten.(Can you see where this is going yet?)

We were one of the first couples to get there that day and it was nice sitting on the wall in the sunshine talking to other expectant parents. Eventually the midwife arrived and ushered us into the community room. Now I promise that I am not one for rushing to get the best chair for myself. I always let other people sit where they choose and then sit wherever is left. On this occasion I let AJ sit where she wanted and I sat in the chair next to her. It just so happened that she wanted to sit in a deeply cushioned chair. Fair enough. the chair next to it was a wooden dining chair with a padded seat and no arms.

So the lesson started and it was the day we learned about pain relief. I've actually got quite a high pain threshold. I'm not one of those who takes a day of sick at the merest tickle in the nose. I'm more likely to pass my germs to all and sundry. I'm generous like that. I'd also prefer to hobble or suffer than accept any offer of help  when I fall and hurt myself. When I used to play Sunday league football. we had our game called off one weekend in November. so we went to the local all weather pitch (which was closed due to the frozen pitch) to practice. I slipped up and hurt my arm so I went in goal???? I was bloody good too. Any way, the sore arm lasted a bit longer than I thought it would and exactly 4 weeks later on Boxing Day it actually got quite painful. So after a lovely bank holiday in casualty, I came out with my arm fully encased and my broken wrist at last on the mend.

Sorry I seemed to go a little Off Topic then. Anyway, Pain I'm OK with, Needles, oh I feel faint just thinking about them. I think it stems from an incident in school when one of the bigger boys was throwing a syringe around and it got stuck in my leg.

So on this really hot day when I'd been working very hard and had nothing to eat since breakfast, they started to talk about epidurals (for some reason I just Wiki'd epidural and there were descriptions and pictures and I don't feel too good at the moment). I turned to AJ and said something along the lines of "I'm going to faint". well that's how it sounded in my head any way. If you have ever fainted might know the feeling. There's a slight drunkenness to start with. Like you've imbibed one more than you should have but you know that you could still walk home. Then you start thinking every breath. They're not hard to do but you feel that you really have to concentrate to make sure you get the maximum amount of oxygen to your brain. Then you realise how futile that was because there is nothing you can do about it, you are going to faint.

Well there I was, in a room full of expectant couples and a midwife, slumped on the ground, making no coherent noise whatsoever, but being self aware enough to know that any attempt to try to get to my feet alone would make me look ridiculous. Obviously, I wasn't thinking straight enough to recognise that I didn't have much dignity in tact any way. Luckily I was rescued from my predicament. Eleven fathers to be there so one or two of them were bound to come to my aid. Erm. No. Medically trained midwife would know what to do. Well, if staring and doing goldfish impressions is a technique taught in the NHS she was incredibly adept but i felt i need something a little more substantial. So thank you to the three, 35 week pregnant ladies who helped me to my feet, took me outside and gave me a glass of water (and no, none of them were coming home with me later in the evening).

I spent the rest of that beautiful summers evening sat on a wall chatting to a Geordie bloke who was just glad it was me that had taken the knock instead of him. I think the conversation was mainly about football, but the elephant in the room (or on the wall) was how would we cope with the birth.

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