What were you doing 24 years ago today?
I know exactly what I was doing that day. It’s a day burned into my memories that I will never forget.
It was a gloriously sunny Tuesday and Alison ( my ex-wife) woke me up at 2am to tell me that her waters had broken, even although it was 2 weeks earlier than expected.
I’d heard her get up about 1am and eating rice-crispies and ice-cream which was her craving at the time.
Or maybe she just said that! 🙂
Anyhoo, she woke me at 2 to tell me that her waters had broken, so we called the hospital for advice.
It’s not like the movies you know, there was no mad rush across town with her legs sticking out the back window and cries of “get hot water and towels”.
We were actually quite calm and the hospital told her to relax, have a bath and came over when the contractions started.
At 5:30am we were in Stobhill Maternity Hospital, Alison was happy to walk, but the plonked her into a wheelchair and wheeled her off for a good look-see.
It was a bright summers morning like today, I spent the next 40 minutes looking out of the window watching the sun burn the mist of the Campsie Hills while they checked Alison over and made sure teh baby was okay.
The next 7 hours until Steven was born at 12:30pm were stressful and joyful.
Alison was insistent that she ddn’t want an anaesthetic and she certainly didn’t want an epidural. She wanted to be in control of the birth and to feel the pain, like some kind of idealistic earth mother.
The contractiions got closer and closer and when she was dilated to 10cm they whipped her into the maternity ward, on the bed, feet in stirrups and the full medical team in and out every 5 minutes until the birth was almost imminent.
As the contractions got closer, all that idealism went out the window and she was breathing the pain-relieving mixture of gas and air with increasing frequency.
That last 30 minutes was harrowing, they could see the head, but she couldn’t push, the babies heart-beat was increasing and they were worried about his oxygen content being reduced with the possibility of resulting brain damage.
Despite the pain-relief, Alison was in agony, I was holding her hand and smiling, telling her that everything would be okay.
But I felt useless, impotent, all that pre-natal stuff, going to classes about breathing etc is all bullshit.
When it comes right down to it, its all down to the woman to push, the male role was 9 months ago and at this time is purely for emotional support.
The emergency team arrived and the doctors and mid-wives were around us, debating if they were going to have to do an emergency ceaserian?
Don’t mind us we thought .. we”re just the patients..
They started to wheel more equipment into the room, God knows what but an alternative approach was imminent.
Over the next 5 minutes, she was contracting almost constantly. I held her and hand and told her to push, But when there was a gap between the reactions, I had to turn away because I had tears in my eyes and I couldn’t bear to see her suffer.
Fortunately, just as they were going to take her to take her to the operating theatre, my sons head appeared.
A few minutes later, they were pulling him out by the shoulders and lifting hiim into Alisons arms. This little bundle of skin and bone covered in blood and mucus and God kows what.
Within moments all of the pain was forgotten, we were smiling and crying, holding each other as they checked him over and told us that we had a perfect healthy baby boy.
Then they asked me if I’d like to cut the cord, which I’m proud to say I’ve done for all 3 of my babies.
A few minutes later, they had the baby cleaned up and wrapped in clean towels. The doctors were making sure that Alison was okay, adding in a few stitches were she had been torn in the most delicate of places.
I took Steven, even although I didn’t even know his name then and walked around the maternity ward with the biggest grin on my face.
Then I found the phone box, because no-one had mobile phones back then and called my mum and Alisons mum and told them our good news.
I cried that day like I had never cried before, a combination of joy and relief, the most euphoric feelings.
24 years ago, and that wee bundle of joy is now 6 foot 2, handsome, intelligent and qualifed in microbiology.
Today he is driving down to Manchester for a job interview in medical sales support.
24 years and I still worry about him, will it ever stop, probably not. but neither will the joy and my pride.
Do you think that you’re parents ever stop worrying about you?
Of course the don’t. you’re their pride and joy. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what you’ve achieved or failed, parental love is unlimited and without conditions.
So go and appreciate your parents, while they are here. The clock is ticking you know.
Tonight, I’m taking my dad and all 3 of my kids are going out for dinner .. having wrote this, feeling a bit emoptional as I did, I’m now thinking that perhaps I should invite Alison along too .. if it wasn’t for her, then I wouldn’t have my babies and life wouldn’t be so good.
Tomorrow, we’re off on holiday, Rome for a couple of days and then cruising the Mediterranean for a week visting Crete, Sicily, Turkey and Athens.
My son and I are sharing a balcony cabin, my 2 girls are in the cabin next door..
Maybe someday they will read this and know how proud I am of all 3 of them and how much they mean to me.