So, now we were at hospital and we made our way slowly up to the birth centre. A midwife(maybe – I didn’t know at this point who was who) let us in and we were asked to sit and wait for a while. It seemed like an eternity but was probably 20-30 minutes before someone came to get us and took us to a side room. There my wife was assessed by the on-duty midwife whilst I tried to help make her comfortable and get through the next while.
This room was a normal room as far as I recall. No fancy birthing bed and no pool, either. The midwife did her checks and my wife was 5 cm dilated. So yay, we didn’t need to go back home and labour was properly established. This relived me massively. I believed we would be given the delta between contractions but I still worried we’d be sent back as we weren’t far enough along. By now it had started in my head, and the car journey was such a hassle for my wife that I really don’t think I could have taken a knock-back!
I made the room as comfortable as I could. I put on some hypnobirthing background music, I got some food ready and some drinks. I was helping my wife stand, sit, lie as she wanted (mainly the former two – lying was bad as that would not help the labour now would it? Gravity is your friend…). I was doing as much as I could think of too help, and responding immediately to her needs. She was focused on labour; I was focused on making that as comfortable as I could.
My wife mentioned to the midwife that she had wanted a pool. So this was going to be setup for us, and would take a while. In the meantime we stayed where we were and periodically upped the Tens machine, did various hypnobirthing exercises and let the midwife check us from time to time. In a couple of hours we moved to 6 cm dilation. Not the pace we’d hoped for but still good progress.
As part of this labour started to get real. I don’t want to go into details nor do I need to. But being a very intense biological event it puts stress on the human body. I knew this. I had accepted it. My advice to any man is accept, expect and deal. It’s reality and part of the birth of your child. It is not icky, scary or anything else. You need to be there for your wife/partner. Get over it ahead of time, or straight away. You frankly do not matter. If you pass out and fall over? That’s where you’ll stay. And you’ll be no help to the Mum nor will you see the birth. Pull yourself together, man.
The Tens machine’s limitations were starting to show. Gas and air was requested and provided. I avoided trying any which must be the first time in the history of man that the male birth partner has not partaken. To be fair even had I wanted to (I was focused on helping, not getting air-drunk thanks very much) there wouldn’t have been much time. Contractions were between 2 and 3 minutes and that gaseous cocktail was needed elsewhere…
At that moment, around 7, the pool was ready and we moved rooms. I gathered what I could and the midwives/assistants helped with the rest. Oh, and my pregnant wife of course! I think the birthing pool, and what I guess is act III of our labour can come in a third post…