It started on a Saturday evening. Charlie and I were just about to sit down and watch the first episode of Britain's Got Talent when all of a sudden she stopped, "I think my waters have just gone." I was at first sceptical as we had had an episode earlier in the pregnancy where we believed her waters had broken. On that occasion a visit to the hospital and an internal inspection from a scabby armed doctor proved otherwise. But this time I could not dispute it. She stood up from the sofa and a pool of amniotic fluid began to form on the lounge floor. Yep this was definitely it. The sweet smell of pregnant ladies waters was in the air, so we took our pre-packed bags and made our way to the hospital.
An hour later we were on the way back home. Yes her waters had gone, but she wasn't anywhere near enough dilated for them to allow us to stay. Contractions followed swiftly and I spent most of the night listening to her moaning every ten minutes or so. Did I say moaning then? I meant groaning. She spent every ten minutes groaning, yes. By the early hours they were getting too much for her to take, so we picked up the bags again and went back to the hospital.
I want to talk briefly here about those bags and their contents. Charlie packed two of them, one for her and one for the new baby. In her bag she had the following:
• Spare clothes
• Spare underwear
• Labour clothes
• Various personal maternity items
• Paracetamol (remember this)
• My iPad
• Phone Chargers
• Make up
• Spare clothes for me
It was a heavy bag. Then we had the bag for the new baby which contained:
• Four sets of baby grows
• Four sets of vests
• A go home outfit
• About three hats
• Nappies (two sizes)
• Pregnancy notes
• Muslin squares
• A coat
• A cardigan
This was slightly less heavy but not by much. Without a doubt she had packed these bags for all eventualities. They had been meticulously and beautifully prepared, but none the less very heavy to carry.
So we got back to the hospital and we were given a room. This is it; this is the room my son would be born in. Everything was going swimmingly. We had made sufficient progress regarding dilation and the gas and air was on overdrive. It was, to be honest, textbook. But then all of a sudden it wasn't. Charlie was in increasingly more pain as the minutes went on, and not just during contractions. The progress halted also and I was becoming increasingly concerned. After a quick inspection it transpired that Toby's head had moved position. It was now a matter of trying to get a square peg through a round hole.
Soon Charlie was delirious, in and out of consciousness and constantly on the gas and air. At this point it was decided that she would be moved to the doctor led labour ward where we could medically move things along. We got to the new ward and there were midwives everywhere. One was holding her, one was putting a needle in the back of her hand and another was taking blood pressure. It was like a bus station in there. A doctor came in and started to talk to Charlie about what was going on. She was completely out of it though. I'd seen her drink two bottles of wine and be in a better state. He started explaining how the drugs they were administering would speed up the contractions. She was obviously unconsciously listening to him, as quick as a flash she lifted her head and screamed "They (contractions) are f**king coming."
Once we had the drip in her hand it was decided that she was going to have an epidural and an anaesthetist was called for. Obviously I'm very anxious at this point and every minute seemed like an hour. I felt like I had ordered a pizza from Italy itself and I was on the edge of starvation. Seriously though, anaesthetists are like gold dust. There's the impression that you merely whisper their name and they are gone into the abyss of medical purgatory. Nevertheless we waited.
Since we had entered this new room I had spent the majority of my time holding Charlie's hand and explaining to her she can't push no matter how much she wanted to. It was horrible. She was begging for relief every time she mustered the energy to open her eyes. Finally though, after what seemed an age the anaesthetist appeared. To be fair he was fantastic. He administered the epidural with Charlie lying down, which apparently is extremely hard to do. The precision required was unreal and he was extremely attentive. Once the epidural was in and the drugs were flowing, it was a waiting game. Charlie began to slowly come round and the pain she was experiencing was waning. I took this opportunity to try and get past level two hundred and forty six on candy crush, and whilst I was at it I ate half a bag of sweets.
After half an hour or so, the normal Charlie was back and her gas and air use went from constant to occasional. The midwife, who had been monitoring Charlie the whole time and barely left her side, decided it was time to have a look at what was going on. She donned the latex gloves and had a feel. Success! Toby has managed to work his way down nicely and his head was not too far away from daylight. Thankfully she explained that we were about thirty minutes or so from pushing. This was it, she had made it, and in the nick of time.
Now, remember I said not to forget the Paracetamol tablets in the labour bag? Well it was at this point that Charlie was complaining of having a head ache. I asked the midwife if it was ok for her to have Paracetamol and she said yes, so I got some out of the bag. There was a glass of water on the side and she took two of the little red and white capsules there and then. We thought no more of it after that. Little did we know they were to play a big part in the rest of this story.
Twenty minutes after she took the tablets she began to complain of feeling sick. This was not unusual, considering what she had been through so far. Unfortunately the sickness decided to make an appearance quicker than we anticipated, and she vomited all over herself. The problem we had was that the process of physically being sick was tensing all the muscles in her body, and she began to inadvertently push the baby out. I glanced at the midwife and she had a panicked look on her face. She blurted out "don't push don't push" then quickly followed it with "you can't help but push can you?" Charlie shook her head and proceeded to vomit again. By now I had one of those cardboard bowl things that people do urine samples in, and I had cupped it under her mouth. The midwife was scrambling to get some gloves on as Toby's head came into view. She then told me to push the big red button next to her bed, which caused a gaggle of midwifes to come running.
So there I was. Sick bowl in one hand and Charlie's hand in the other, watching as my first born son was vomited into existence.