Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Birth of Marlene: A Father's Eye View

If you have already read my version of Marlene's birth (if not you can read it here) then you will know that there were a lot of people present to welcome her into the world a few weeks ago. It always fascinates me to hear other peoples experiences of the same event. I asked my husband, Ingo and my friend Sam, both present at Marlene's birth, to write about it from the perspectives. None of us read each other's accounts before writing our own and it has been interesting to see the differences in perception of time and sequence of events. It is also incredibly moving for me to read their stories and to understand how witnessing something as powerful as birth impacts our relationships. 

First up is Ingo - he wrote this a couple of weeks ago and me laugh and cry in equal measure. Thank you my love:

"Week 4 after birth. My body hurts, my brain is fried, I am confused, highly irritable and I am fucking knackered. I invented a new word for this: 'fackered'. I am also at times ecstatic and happy. So, this is probably not the ideal starting point to finally write down my 'birth story' but hey... let's go!

Right.. a confession right from the start: I can't remember much. Well, I can remember a lot of snapshots.. flashes.. like a long paparazzi attack - but I find it hard to remember the whole thing as one chronological process. We had a full house this time. Sharmila's parents, Little Leelah, our good friend Sam [a female Sam @misssamlacey], two midwifes and myself. There should have also been two 'One Born Every Minute' producer/camera people but they thank god ballsed it all up and we told them at the last minute not to bother. I don't think there would have been enough room in our 'birth lounge' anyway. So, there we were, well prepared, birth pool fully blown up, sitting there like a midget bouncy castle, ready for attack, with all of the experience of a previous successful home birth, and I was still very nervous and but also excited and relieved that this whole waiting game period was finally about to come to it's natural end. It was the eve of the battle, die Ruhe vor dem Sturm.

Here's what I remember, not what really happened, just what I can now recall:

Me thinking "I can smell it - just like the first time - I can feel that it's just about to happen".

Sharmila calling me upstairs, telling me that 'there is definitely something going on'.

Filling the pool with water, trying to get that water temperature just right but that's not easy because we don't have a mixer tap that is small enough to fit on the connector that came with the hire pool, so the hose is now connected to the hot tap and I need to do that whole pool-filling in a clever way, meaning that I need to think about how much hot water I need to put in now and how much space I need to leave for a cold water top up so the pool is just filled up to the correct height while taking into account the time that will now pass until Sharmila will actually go into the pool, then realising that that's actually totally out of my control, so I desperately try to keep that bloody pool at the right temperature. At some point I just run up and down the stairs, numerous times, down to the kitchen tap and upstairs again, with a massive white plastic bucket, trying to get too cold water out of the pool and new, hotter water back in, always trying to keep that temperature right. Now here's a great tip for you: Put that birth pool hose on a mixer tap.

Sharmila kneeling over a bouncing ball, me massaging/rubbing her lower back, telling her that she's doing great and everything is just fine.

Icelandic music that I've never heard before on repeat. Candles. Water bottle. Lower back rubbing.

Sam doing the same while I run down with another bucket of water.

Midwifes arriving, the main one IS GERMAN [lol], me offering tea but they don't want any.

Sharmila doing some new style brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr noises, riding the waves. More back rubbing.

Midwife suggesting to enter the pool, me worrying that the temperature now might not be right.

Hectic adding of hot water to bring up the pool temperature.

Sharmila in the pool, the in-laws in and out of the lounge, Sharmila's mum with a camera, like a miniature war reporter. Looking back now, I can't really remember what they did. I think they mostly looked after Little Leelah. And Sharmila's dad helped me with the pool saga.

Sharmila still in the pool, then suddenly, MUCH quicker than I suspected.. OOOOOOOH something is happening now... I CAN SEE THE HEAD OF A BABY COMING UP UNDER THE WATER


..and there she is, Marlene. All the Anspannung is suddenly falling off me, it's a total rush now, looking at her little face, looking at Sharmila, this massive wave of relieve and happiness washing over me, people around me, all these people suddenly, Little Leelah shouting "THE BABY THE BABY", Sharmila's mum shooting pics, Sharmila still in the pool, now holding Marlene who is already aiming for a boob. There is an electric atmosphere in this room.. ecstatic, happy faces.

Then slowly back to business.. me cutting the cord, joking that it will feel again like cutting off a pinky finger.. Marlene getting cleaned and weighed, Sharmila moving to the sofa, all the after birth business, placenta, getting stiched up, finally nicking some gas&air.. it really gets very foggy now.. me obviously holding Marlene.. just happy."

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