Last Wednesday I got home from work and Charlotte mentioned that her doctor would be surprised if she didn’t go into labour that night. I thought to myself, “wow this is really happening” as well as “sure sure TONIGHT I’m going to become a father… nah what does she know” (she's only a doctor after all… silly me). So Charlotte and I decided to go for a walk with Hank the beagle and see if we couldn’t make our doctors prediction come true.
During the walk Charlotte had a few contractions, 45mins or so apart, clearly still very early on. We even went as far as to have her “crab walk” up all the stairs, which apparently opens up all the baby tunnels and gets them ready for delivery. We got home, watched some TV and went to bed.
Quarter to midnight Charlotte shakes me awake and says “I think I’m having real contractions now, less than 5 minutes apart!”
I think I’m having real contractions
Now a few weeks earlier I had been having a conversation with a co-worker of mine and he was telling me about when him and his wife had had their first child. He spoke of seemingly ridiculous awareness of time, and how the drive to the hospital was adrenaline filled and many other things about the night of their first son’s birth. I had enjoyed the stories and understood the reality of those few hours of excitement… or so I had thought.
… “less than 5 minutes apart!” I wake up and it takes me a second to process what she said, but then it hits me: I am about to become a father, a keeper of a child, a dad. I grab my phone, pull up the stopwatch and wait for the next contraction to start.
She grimaces and I start the timer.
She relaxes click: 59s long contraction.
She tenses again click: 4min rest.
The contractions at this point were relatively low on the pain scale (my words don’t tell Charlotte) and we were excitedly and nervously chatting during the contractions about the exciting morning to come.
After about an hour or so the contractions were starting to get more painful so Charlotte moved into the shower for some hot water pain relief. Still the contractions were “bearable” as she continued to speak throughout the entire contraction.
Word of the wise fellow first time dads, you learn in prenatal to check for the talking of the mum. If she can speak through the contraction, you probably aren’t ready to hit the hospital quite yet. Find some topics ahead of time, the best thing I cam up with on the spot was “spell my name” and “spell your name” and other silly boiler plate questions, to which the regular reply was “I don’t want to spell my name AGAIN!”… be prepared.
Finally around 215am, over two and a half hours of contractions, Charlotte was getting a little more uncomfortable, but still able to chat through them. I assumed we were going to be a while longer (all descriptions of the stages of labour clocked this stage usually longer that 2 hours), however between 215am and 230am the contractions went from a 4 to a 9 on the pain scale without warning. Charlotte looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “we need to go to the hospital now, I need something for the pain”.
We need to go to the hospital now!
Unfortunately this whole time I was sitting with Charlotte seeing as I assumed we had a few hours to go, so the cooler wasn’t full, Hank the beagle was not away or fed, and not everything we needed was near the door. The next 15 minutes was the most harried running around I’d ever done: it consisted of having 2 minutes or less to sprint around the apartment grabbing, packing and preparing until Charlotte yelled my name, at which time I rushed back over to her to help her through the next contraction.
Finally at 245am we made it down to the car and started off for the hospital and by 315am we had checked in, had a curtained off be bed in the labour unit and were waiting for the nurse to tell us how far along we were and if we were going to be sent home or given a room.
After what seemed an eternity it was our turn and the nurse walked into our stall and started asking us questions. After the paperwork was filled out in little spurts in which Charlotte could speak, it was time to hook up the heart rate monitors and have her exam. The nurse got everything prepared, Charlotte rolled over and the nurse examined her looked up at me and said “looks like you guys aren’t going home anytime soon.”