Paternity Sweet

I read in the Daily Telegraph last week* that there is a move for men to ‘stay away from childbirth’ as their presence make the process more difficult for women.

And, “… some women prefer their partner to be standing next to them at eye level and giving support there rather than putting pressure on them by peering at the business end which is not always the nicest place to be. ” Nicely put DT. Although it then goes on to quote a father-to-be, who found himself at (as we say) the business end, and described it as like seeing your favourite pub go up in flames. All of which does start to say something about your typical Telegraph reader these days.

Anyway, I’m not sure at all that I agree. Certainly, (and especially for first-timers,) a man’s visit to a maternity ward while his partner is in the throes of labour is a pretty daunting experience. But there are many many things that you learn for future visits :

– You are not the most important person for the next few hours. In fact, you won’t be for several years. More importantly, as a couple, your ‘special time’ is fairly old news to most people who work on maternity wards.

– The birth plan that you lovingly produced after reading Dr Miriam Stoppard’s books** on childbirth is completely and utterly useless.

– Especially the bit about ‘no drugs’. Given this is one of the few times in your life where you can have an open mind on using drugs, you may as well. Note, these are not for sharing.

– And ‘Sarah Brown’s Healthy Pregnancy” is utter nonsense, cover to cover. Especially the bit about knocking up a quick fruit cake as you go into labour. As the youth of today say, WTF.

– And the soothing cucumber baby wipes that you packed to mop your partner’s fevered brow. What on earth were you thinking of?

– Slightly more useful is the snacks and chocolate. But remember that these were for sharing.

– When she says something like “YoucompletebastardI’mneverlettingyoucomeany- wherenearmeagain”, stand back. Don’t attempt to argue. In fact, if possible, avoid eye contact, but don’t go too far the other way and start reading a book.

– Speaking of which, even if there is a TV in the room, don’t ask if you can switch it on. Even if there is a really important match on***. And probably best to keep the Blackberry out of view.

– Remember, every hilarious observation in this situation has been made a thousand times before. Possibly on this shift.

Things to watch out for post-birth:

– If, post birth, your wife tries to walk around the ward, and someone asks when the baby is likely to be born, you are allowed to deck that person. It’s the law.

– When your baby is presented to you in a green blanket, it means that your partner has been in surgery, not that you’ve had your first Alien. Although we did wonder for the first couple of years.

– The nurses will insist on carrying the baby out of the hospital. All the way to the waiting car, which in the case of Emu#1, was a deathtrap, masquerading as a minicab. Which was a good way to demonstrate that from now on, you’re completely on your own.

And remember to feed, but also remember:

– The NCT is populated entirely by well meaning people. With an agenda. That isn’t necessarily yours.

– Sometimes things don’t work out right. And then, and possibly only then, you should be grateful that the Tesco’s down the road is open 24 hours.

*Now, I never thought I’d start off a sentence like that. But I also remember reading Bill Gates’ column on knowledge, where he said out of principle he would read information that didn’t interest him, to widen his understanding of the world. So I thought I’d try a fetid out of touch broadsheet. Also, there was a free bottle of water and I was thirsty.

** Pah! Pah! And Pah! Again.

*** For Emu#1, a comfortable 1-0 win vs Coventry City, just prior to beating Bayern Munich in the UEFA cup. Yes, that’s Norwich City. And Bayern Munich. In the UEFA Cup.


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