So we were talking about the imminent arrival of baby number two in six-ish weeks time, when my OH sighed dramatically: ‘I’m absolutely dreading the labour,’ he said.
My first thought? ‘You cheeky bugger! What the heck have YOU got to worry about?’
Then, when I thought about it more, I conceded that, although they still have the MUCH easier end of the bargain, it can’t be pleasant for the partners either – in a completely different way, of course.
Don’t even get me started on the actual pregnancy, when the OH gets to do exactly what they’ve always done – including get drunk, munch on prawns, blue cheese, and coffee til it comes out their ears, and tie their own shoelaces – while we look on enviously (and a little bitterly) for 9-10 months.
But once the big day arrives, I can see that it must be hard for them to see us in such pain and distress, to know they’re partly responsible for getting us in this situation in the first place, yet not be able to do a damn thing to help. Because, once things get going, they’re pretty bloody useless really, aren’t they?
I wouldn’t have wanted him NOT to be there, but after a certain point in proceedings, I was so oblivious to anything other than pain, that if he’d nipped down the road for a pint and a curry, I’d neither have know, nor cared.
Bless him, he tried his best to help, but in reality he just kind’ve made things worse. Our situation was slightly strange because I was kept in the pre-labour ward for much longer than normal while waiting for a bed to come free, and for my labour to ‘progress’ sufficiently (which it never actually ended up doing, resulting in an emergency c-section).
At one point, very aware of the much-less-pregnant women either side of me who’d just come in for overnight observation, and were probably freaking out at the sounds coming from my cubicle, he suggested I perhaps keep the noise down just a touch. ‘Don’t f****ing tell me to shush!’ I remember screaming.
Another time, about 30 hours in, the contractions were on top of each other and I was hunched over the side of the bed when – without warning – a soaking wet flannel was suddenly slapped across the back of my neck. Again, a nice thought in principal, but I wasn’t expecting it. Not only did it scare shit out of me, but rivers of freezing cold water began pouring down my back. ‘Get it OFF!’ I yelled, hurling it to the floor.
But there were times when he was invaluable. When I was in a fog of pain and exhaustion, and ready to throw myself out the nearest window (literally!) he was the one demanding a bed in the labour ward for me, and assuring the midwives I wasn’t just being a wimp – that I really was having proper contractions. ‘Oh yes,’ they finally acknowledged when they strapped the monitor-thingy on me. ‘They’re actually quite strong, aren’t they?’
As the labour continued, and nothing happened the way it was supposed to, it must’ve be really scary for him to hear the docs talking about emergency surgeries, and haemorrhaging, and blood transfusions. I was in cloud-Cuckoo land by then, and too exhausted to even register what they were saying.
So, on careful reflection, I’ve decided that he does have a small right to be nervous about labour too. But he’d better make the most of my concession now, because once those contractions begin any empathy for him will go straight out the window – and so will he, if he tries that wet flannel trick again!