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As we both wrote on our perspective on the birth of our first daughter Sorsha we agreed it would be nice to do the same for Willow. Willow’s birth was completely different, in that from the outset we knew she was going to be born via c-section. As soon as we knew we were pregnant again we discussed what we would want to do. In these situations while both partners’ opinions are important it’s ultimately down to the parent bearing the child to decide what happens to their body. As with so many things in our lives Karen and I were in sync and we both agreed that a c-section was the best way to proceed. I’m not about to get into the debate about the best way to have a child but based on our experiences it was definitely a C for us!
We arrived at Ninewells in Dundee at 7:30am. I was born in this hospital and it was nice to think that Willow and I came into the world in the same place. I changed into some seriously tight scrubs followed by some more realistically sized ones! Karen changed into a very fetching gown and we relaxed and chatted while we waited patiently to be served. We were briefed by the midwifes, anaesthetist and surgeons between reminiscing about our previous experience and talked about our fears and reassured each other. We took a few selfies and stayed in good spirits throughout. I especially liked the anaesthetist, he reminded me of a WWII spitfire pilot! Very well spoken but without a hint of arrogance.
It seemed that there were more people to be seen that day than were planned and on top of that emergency caesarians as well. Unlike when we were in Aberdeen the issues effecting the NHS were apparent here. The staff were only too willing to discuss struggling to manage the welfare of the people in their care while balancing their own welfare and it was apparent that they always put others first. This on one hand was a testament to the people who look after us day to day however it brought into sharp relief that the organisation clearly needs access to better funding. Issues included a shortage of pumps to drive drips, and more worryingly a shortage of pillows…a shortage of pillows! That kind of blew my mind. Why would a hospital be in a position where something as simple and fundamental as a pillow be in short supply?! I’m happy to say that our care was not affected and we were treated fantastically throughout which was a contrast to our previous experience. However, I would really worry about how that care would have been affected had there been a lot of people needing to give birth that day. Listening to a midwife talk about not having had a chance to get breakfast having started at 7am and it now being 1pm felt entirely wrong. For many industries and services not being able to get breaks would be a break of policy and safety and I can’t help but feel that the full medical profession should find themselves with the support of legislation to support their wellbeing. If every member of staff within the NHS took exactly what they should in terms of breaks I wonder how many more cracks would show? That’s enough of the social political commentary!
We were taken into surgery after about a four hour wait. It sounds like a long time but it passed easily. Karen showed just as much bravery as she did the last time. I don’t tend to get upset or worried in these situations. A bit (or more) of blood doesn’t tend to bother me unless it’s coming from someone I care about. If they are upset or distressed I tend to get caught up in their emotions. Unless I am the primary carer I find myself getting very emotional. She’s amazing! One more time…Karen’s amazing! Everything went smoothly and she was as cool as a cucumber throughout. It wasn’t long before Willow was quite literally pulled out (I like to peek and see what’s going on) and we got to look at our very gory looking baby! Off she went to get cleaned and weighed. She was quickly back in my arms and we found ourselves calmly chatting and joking with the afore-mentioned anaesthetist. Off we went to the observation room where Karen got straight into breast feeding. This was such a wonderful change from our first time around where it would still be days before Karen would get to properly hold Sorsha. After a number of checks on Karen’s vital signs we were off back to the ward and we got to settle in with Willow. Again completely different from our first experience with birth, far from being completely shattered and showing it Karen looked great, and although obviously sore, wasn’t suffering from the exhaustion she had felt after hours of labour with Sorsha.
Karen’s parents came and visited with Sorsha, it was great to see her cooing at Willow and waving as well. She did make a nuisance of herself running off and needing to be chased down but she’s adorable with it. Karen spent only one night on the ward and, mostly I’m sure down to being an experienced parent and having been through all this before, was quickly released the next day. We were all bedded very early and it was nice to have a tiny person sleeping in a basket by the bed.
Despite having been through it all before I’m still plagued by a bit of paranoia and fear. I find myself checking on her often and on occasion stopping to intensely focus on her tiny chest as it almost imperceptibly moves up and down. It’ll all pass soon!
It’s a great feeling having now completed the family, although we still need to get the dogs but let’s not rush that one! It’s been the most wonderful experience watching Sorsha develop into the funny and intelligent little girl she is now and I can’t wait to see how they grow together!
I am blessed to have met such a wonderful woman. Karen has given me everything I’ve ever wanted and continues to give beyond my expectations. What’s really comforting is that I know I make her feel the same. We have a wonderful family and I hope it never changes.
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It’s always really interesting reading Allan’s side of our birth stories! Thanks for writing this Allan, and for being the best baby-daddy and partner I could ever wish for!