Our Birth Story: A Dad’s Perspective

Two days ago, our little guy turned one! Can you believe that? One! Jesse has officially been part of our lives for a whole year. Where has all that time gone?!

Today we celebrated this wonderful milestone with our closest family and friends at Jesse’s first birthday party.

All the festivities has me reminiscing about our amazing journey into parenthood. From right back to when we first kicked off trying to conceive, to falling pregnant, Jesse’s arrival into the world and those first few days and weeks as new parents. It all still seems so clear in my mind.

So following Renee’s last blog post, I thought I’d give my perspective on Jesse’s birth story. Because let’s face it, how many birth stories have you read from the perspective of the dad?

The last weeks – The calm before the storm

I was loving the fact that I had access to a permanent designated driver ever since we had found out that Renee was pregnant. It was just a shame I didn’t take advantage of this fact more often.

In all seriousness though, in those last weeks of Renee’s pregnancy, we were both starting to get very excited about meeting our little bundle of joy. But it wasn’t just excitement that was starting to build inside me. It was a mixture of emotions that included excitement, nervousness, joy, panic, elation, fear… you get the picture. I was excited but freaking out at the same time about becoming a first time dad.

Renee and I would constantly talk about the impending labour. We spoke about the birth plan, when I should start my parental leave, what kind of labour we thought Renee might experience and when the baby would finally decide it was time to greet the world.

In those last few weeks I constantly joked that I didn’t mind when the baby was born, just as long as it wasn’t born on State of Origin night. And if it was, well there better be a TV in the birthing suite, because I was not going to miss Game 1!

On the weekend of the 23/24 May 2015, Renee and I agreed that I should start my leave earlier than I had initially planned. While the plan was to work right up to when Renee was in labour, I started my leave on Monday, 25 May 2015, so we could enjoy some time together before the baby came.

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The day before

We didn’t have much planned for the day. A casual stroll around the shops (or “the mall” depending on where you’re reading from) was the most exciting thing we had planned for the day. Mostly because we wanted to keep things as relaxed as possible to not put any undue stress on Renee.

After walking around for about an hour, Renee looks at me and tells me that she thinks she’s been having mild contractions the whole time we’ve been at the shops.

“What?! Really?! Do we need to go to the hospital?! Your water isn’t going to break in the middle of the shopping centre is it?!”

I have a slight tendency to overreact to certain situations sometimes. So after Renee assures me that it’s nothing too serious and that perhaps we just head home, I calm down we head off.

For the rest of the day, Renee kept me updated on how she was feeling, how intense the contractions were, how far apart they were and whether she needed me to do anything for her. There didn’t seem to be any consistency to the contractions with regards to how far apart they were, although they were getting more intense.

Later that night at around 11pm, as Renee was leaning up against the kitchen bench to help get her through each contraction, I asked again if we should tell anybody or ring ahead to the hospital. But again I got reassurance from Renee that we don’t need to ring through to anyone just yet, as for all we knew the contractions could stop. Plus, our midwife had told us to stay at home until the contractions were 3 minutes apart, which they weren’t.

So on Renee’s approval, it was off to bed for me to get some sleep, just in case things ramped up during the night.

D-Day

Renee gave me an update over breakfast about her night and how she was presently feeling and as she suspected, throughout the night, the contractions eventually began to get lighter and further apart until they faded away almost entirely. Regardless, we had a midwife appointment at 10:30am, so we could talk through what had happened with a professional soon enough.

I remember however that despite how calm things appeared on the surface, I was still a little anxious underneath it all, as all signs were starting to point to this baby making an appearance sometime in the next few days… if not earlier. And so while at the midwife appointment, I again make the joke that the baby better not come tonight because I really want to watch Game 1 of State of Origin. We all have a bit of a chuckle. We then head to Renee’s parents for a quick visit.

We barely last an hour there before Renee ends up bent back over the kitchen bench as the waves of pain from contractions start again. Renee’s mum looks both excited but supportive as she comforts her through each contraction. Not long after the contractions start again, Renee gives me the nod that she wants to head back home to ride them out.

I leave Renee at home (again, with her permission) to grab some lunch. When I get back, I find Renee doing what could be described as some sort of squatting manoeuvre beside the bed and in what appears to be a world of pain. Even I can tell that this time, it looks like it’s all systems go. Time to call the hospital!

Again, excitement, nervousness, joy, panic, elation, fear all washes over me and I feel my legs start to shake as I start to freak out. Wow… This is actually happening… Right now… This… Is… Happening… Right now… I must hide it well though, because it appears as though Renee doesn’t seem to notice my wave of emotions. Although, given the state she’s in, I can hardly blame her for taking notice of anything else other than the pain she was experiencing.

And while all this is happening, in the back of my mind I can’t help but think, “dammit… all that joking around about how I didn’t want the baby to come on State of Origin night, and now it’s happening!!!”

So I get all the bags we prepared for the birth together and start packing the car. I hit schedule TV to record State of Origin Game 1, just in case we do end up missing it (priorities right) and we head to the hospital.

The drive to the hospital was probably one of the longest drives we’ve ever had to take. I was a nervous ball of energy. Renee was in tears because of the pain she was experiencing with each contraction. And all I wished was that we could somehow teleport right to the doorstep of the hospital.

We make it. But the battle is far from over. I pile myself up with all our bags and help Renee out of the car. But it’s even a slow journey up to the maternity ward with Renee having to stop every few minutes to ride out yet another contraction. We make it to the maternity ward counter and our midwife team is called. Renee gets down on her haunches while holding onto the counter for another contraction when one of the midwives appear and says “Wow, looks like you ready to go then. Follow me.”

In the birthing suite

My first job was to call Sharon and Lia (Renee’s mum and sister) to ask them to come straight to the hospital as Renee wanted them both there for the birth. From that moment on my sole responsibility was making sure I helped Renee as much as possible and whenever she needed it.

And like that it was on… like Donkey Kong!

It was such an intense experience. I often felt a little helpless, as I watched Renee have to push through waves of pain as each contraction got more and more painful. I got her water when she needed it. I helped her move around the room when she needed. I let her squeeze my hands so hard at times that it felt like she was about to break my fingers off. Actually, at one point her mum took over the hand holding and I think Renee did cause her some finger damage!

But I wasn’t going to complain about a single thing, because I knew I’d probably get a slap to the face.

The most annoying thing for me however, was the fact that I must have either been nervous or I drank too much water heading into the birthing suite, because I remember having to go to the toilet nearly every 20 mins. It was quite inconvenient, but whenever I did need to go, Sharon and Lia were there to continue to help Renee through the pain.

I couldn’t believe how well Renee was coping with labour. She wanted the birth to be as natural as it could be and with the exception of a little gas, she did it completely unassisted. And I don’t think I’ve ever told Renee this, but the midwife must have had more faith in Renee than she had in herself, because she turned the gas off well before Renee knew it was off.

And then, at 7:50pm, our beautiful boy was born. Wow… A wave of emotions flooded through me. There he was. A boy. So tiny. So beautiful. All 6lb 2oz of him. Renee caught him in her arms, brought him up to her chest and held him close as he took his first breaths. I nuzzled into them both. So proud of Renee for what she had just done. And so completely overwhelmed with what was now in front of me.

A little while after he was born, I had the pleasure of cutting the cord. And then not too long after that, I got to have my first cuddle of my new born son. Skin to skin. Just me and our baby boy. At that point, I remember thinking how tiny and delicate he was. I was so worried that I was going to break him.

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When the midwife had left to complete some paperwork and Renee and I got some alone time with him together, we started thinking about what we should name him. We didn’t want to rush naming him if we didn’t feel the names we had picked suited him. But, as we did already have a few combinations picked out, we thought that now was a good opportunity to go through them.

Once we got to the name Jesse Jack Barton, we immediately knew this was the one. It fit perfectly. He even looked like a Jesse Jack Barton.

And so as if it was always meant to be, we both looked down at Jesse Jack Barton. Our first child. Our son. Our life.

Like Renee said, I’ll never forget the moment my life changed forever. The moment in that birthing suite where I met our beautiful baby boy for the first time. The moment I fell madly in love with our sweet little Jesse.

My dearest Jesse, happy birthday!

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