So it just happens. One night the two of you are out having dinner. The next night one of you is lying exhausted on a hospital bed, the other is sleeping on the floor, and there’s a third individual in the room in their own little bed!
Strange as it sounds, that’s how it was for Charlotte and me. With a C section on the cards, we went to bed the night before our baby was born knowing (and trust me this is an odd feeling) that we were going to be parents the next day!
Whilst the NCT classes we had been to were excellent in preparing us for what to do in a practical sense after the birth, nothing could prepare us for the feelings of that morning as we walked to the hospital ward. As I got dressed in scrubs and Charlotte went through to get her spinal in the operating theatre, I was filled with a mixture of terror and excitement!
After the delivery, I received my first shock. Just before our little one had arrived the anaesthetist had announced that we shouldn’t be worried about not hearing her scream straightaway. However, she came out bellowing! Then, she turned out to be rather purple, rather than a nice pink colour, something that I was unprepared for. I was left feeling a little unnerved until (in our case) the excellent midwife team told us this was normal!
From here, I watched on as everything in the first few minutes evolved in a hectic but amazing way. Our baby was weighed, wrapped up, had her cord shortened, and we finally got the opportunity to meet the little character who is now the most important part of our lives above all else!
You can read a lot of scaremongering info online about how difficult it can be to bond with a baby after a C section, but Charlotte and our little lady got to bond within minutes. Our little one was laid across the top of Charlotte’s chest so those first precious kisses and cuddles were achievable before we were even taken to the post op room.
From the post op room, we were taken to a ward full of other new families (some of whom had been in the antenatal ward a little longer than others but all of whom were no doubt in the same state of joy and confusion as us)!
As our little one started to resemble a more normal colour and we became more confident in giving her a proper cuddle (with skin to skin contact that is so vital), we began the battle of trying to work out as a family how best to work together to get feeding going. I say as a family as my role was to support the two most important people in my life in gaining the confidence to get things going. Of course the real work was done by Mum and baby! For us, this all went well thanks to the help of the hospital staff, but I can imagine how frustrating and demoralising it can be if things go badly or if you have had a very traumatic labour.
Shortly after, we had a visit from the new grandparents and also our first (of no doubt many!) moment of embarrassing our daughter as we attempted to open a mini bottle of fizz without anyone noticing, something that is easier said than done on a busy hospital ward!
We also received, as I am sure many other people do, a bag full of newborn essentials such as nappies and wipes. These proved invaluable as we learned our first parenting lesson: apparently there are two sizes of Aldi newborn nappies and we had stocked up on the size that was too big!
From here, you get to see the first strange and rather incredible poos that are like something out of a horror movie but that somehow don’t do anything except increase your love for your little one and sense of pride that they are doing exactly what they should be doing.
A few hours later, and a few more nappy changes later, we had reached that point where it was time for me to think about leaving. Just as I was packing up, the hospital staff came along and offered us a private room for the night if we didn’t mind there not being a bed for me. Frankly, I think I would have slept on hot coals to stay in the room, so we unpacked all the bits I had arranged for Charlotte to have easy access to whilst I was gone and got ourselves shifted into a private room for the night.
With the adrenaline still pumping through us, the joy of the early hours was not at all diminished. In all honesty, a fair amount of the time spent in the room was taken up by admiring how perfect our little one was (which is of course every parent’s view of their own child but still!).
I then realised that I hadn’t eaten since the night before so had to jog out to get some food (I had planned on eating at home before the bonus of being allowed to stay was presented to me). I had missed the cafeteria opening hours and ended up taking a rather surreal Chinese takeaway back into the room!
From here is where it starts to get really tough and we faced (in our very limited time as parents) probably the second trickiest night so far. All three of us were tired. It was an alien environment. We could hear the screams of a poor lady in labour. We were scared of putting down our precious little one to be on her own, and all of a sudden it was 3am!
We made it through though and didn’t feel too knackered in the morning! Before we knew it, it had been 24 hours since our baby was born – whilst everything was strange and unexpected, this was truly the most magical 24 hours of our lives.