27/05/2012 21:42 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Dad's Pregnancy Diary: The Birth

I'm not sure if it was the pair of dark blue eyes squinting back at me, the tiny tufts of hair on the ears or the little wrinkled hands that looked like they'd been in the bath too long, but any doubts I'd had that I could love my second child as much as my first disappeared in an instant, as Alex came into the world.

Weighing a healthy 8lbs 4oz he was born by Caesarean. While an operation might not have the wonder of a natural birth the euphoria of knowing that he and mum had made it safely through couldn't have been greater.


Once the doctors had decided that my wife needed a planned C-section there was something a bit odd about knowing the date that he would be born. It was in the diary along with the trip to the bank manager and the dentist.


There was something even odder about waiting just outside theatre for the first mother to go in for her own Caesarean and listening to the strange array of sounds emanating from inside including, at one point, what sounded like a vacuum cleaner being used to suck up a swimming pool. They didn't exactly help the tension.

Once it was our turn there was something reassuring, however, about the number of people in the room, all knowing their job and hurrying about, yet still with time to joke and make us feel comfortable.

I felt like an extra from a TV medical drama in my scrubs and tried to say soothing things to my wife. But there really wasn't much that could distract her from the fact that a number of people were busy opening her up and rummaging about, while she remained almost completely conscious.

I thought that by chickening out of cutting the cord and with the screen up to stop us seeing the surgeons do their work I would be saved from the gorier aspects of the procedure. But when one of them asked if we'd like to see our son the second after he came out of the womb we gleefully accepted. Suddenly the screen came down...but the strangeness of seeing a team of people wielding scalpels over my partner's belly was swept away by the first sight of our screaming baby boy as he was lifted up for us to ogle, then whisked away to be cleaned up and weighed.

The worrying wasn't over though. Now out of theatre, my wife continued to have a lot of blood loss and Alex had difficulty with his breathing. Having one of the people you most cherish in distress is stressful enough, but two is almost unbearable. Soon, thanks to the hospital staff everything was looking up.

Later, it felt weird, given that you've just witnessed your wife bring a new person into the world, to be told that "visiting hours are up and you've really got to go home now because partners aren't allowed to stay overnight." Making yourself some dinner and eating it in front of the telly at home after that kind of day seems trivial and somehow plain wrong.

They had to stay in hospital for five days. But while it was annoying not to have them home sooner there was something very peaceful about having the time to just sit there in the ward, cuddling the baby, with nothing else to do than change the odd nappy...and, of course, think of the enormous responsibility of it all.

Not so peaceful for my wife, obviously. No sooner are the stresses of pregnancy and birth out of the way, than the demands of breastfeeding kick in. Those three hourly feeds – or more – are truly punishing. There is nothing that makes me so convinced that women are the stronger sex than seeing my wife keep our baby alive using only her breasts while existing on almost no sleep and a diet which until now has consisted mainly of hospital mashed potato. Humbling indeed.

Looking back over the birth and the pregnancy it's interesting to ponder what the role of a dad is in it all. The fact is that, practically, there isn't much you really can contribute. But just being around, doing all that hand holding - and being interested - is certain to bring you closer to your partner and your newborn.

Here's to a daunting, exciting future...and a lot more nappies.

Huge congratulations James and Tamsin from everyone at Parentdish