We had a kid! Spawned a child process!
Having a child is a very strange experience. Being the father I have it pretty easy physically, though mentally and emotionally it’s quite… unique. It’ll take a while to fully digest this mental gear-change and I don’t think I could write about it accurately enough to do it justice, so I won’t attempt to just yet.
Like with most things, theory only gets you so far. You need to experience it to fully appreciate it, and appreciate it I now do.
I expect every birth is different at some level, whether it’s the process itself or the attitudes and reactions of the individuals involved (including family, friends, as well as – and in some ways most importantly – the medical staff, more on this below) but there’s one thing which I suspect is consistent across all births.
Shit me is it tiring.
He was born at the end of May, and I’ve only had the energy to post one small update here since then. In fact, this article has been written in short bursts since the previous one went up because it has been tricky to find the energy to post here whilst we’ve been home (apologies if it reads somewhat awkwardly.) There’s always something to be done, not including the remaining renovation work we still need to do. Being in hospital though? That is an entirely different beast.
We ended up being in the hospital ward for nearly a week. I was lucky enough to be able to escape once or twice a day (to feed the cat, or take receipt of our poorly timed new sofa delivery) but my Significant Other spent every minute inside a single small room. That look on recently rescued miners faces when they see daylight for the first time in months? I bet it was a bit like that for her when we finally left.
What didn’t help our stress levels was the two occurences of building work that went on in that week at the hospital. One was right outside our window, the view from which was simply of a different wing of the hospital across a 20m gap between the buildings, so not exactly a picturesque vista. We had to keep this window open too as it was at least 34C in that room at best. They were running cable or something, and heavy tools were out in use for two days.
The heat in the ward was almost unbearable. I know they keep it warm in there (to keep the little babies nice and snug!) but this was over the top.
It turned out the aircon was broken. This was the cause of the second set of building work. About a dozen intimidating big burly blokes climbing ladders in hallways and going into the suspended ceiling with drills and hammers taking apart metal ducting (loudly) to try and get the ward down to a decent temperature. Having all these workmen patrolling and working, covering everything in ceiling tile dust, couldn’t have been a calming factor for any of the women or babies in there. I felt bad for those unlucky enough to be in a shared room, though (typically) those women get to leave after a day or so at most.
After three days of this chaos they did get everything up and running. Unfortunately this was achieved the evening before we left, so we didn’t really get to appreciate it.
I hinted above that the medical staff’s reaction and behaviour to you is an important element in your perception of the experience. Special and unfortunate mention here for them: they, generally, sucked.
The saying “There are always some bad eggs” is an understatement of such proportions that it gets flipped on its head. We were pleasantly surprised when we spoke with someone who seemed to give a fuck, let alone show compassion. I have a great deal of respect for NHS staff and don’t blame them for being jaded or stressed. They are underappreciated, overworked and many roles are underpaid. But those who show this disinterest would probably do everyone a favour if they moved on to something else. It might kick the government up the ass a bit if everyone on the NHS staff started looking after themselves instead of taking the amount of shit they deal with daily on the chin. Unfortunately, the sick and injured will suffer. Rock, meet hard place.
I know it’s not as simple as that and voting for change is the best way forward. The ward we were on is fairly renown for being not that great once everything goes off-script (as the birth of our child tore up the script then set fire to it, this applies to us) but it’s difficult to fondly remember any part of the birth or the following week. And this sucks.
We’ve got a healthy baby now, though, and that’s awesome. But it doesn’t make the experience okay. There will forever be a bad taste in our mouths when we remember this in the coming years, but for the sake of our sanity, our happiness, and the small human being we now find ourselves responsible for, we have to move on as best as we can.
I expect that as time moves on and he grows (oh, that reminds me: they told us the wrong weight at birth. I don’t know how they got that wrong) I will find myself with more time for this site, and I will no doubt have more thoughts on fatherhood and being a parent in general. I’ve also got renewed focus on some technology stuff now that the home renovation isn’t exhausting us to quite the same level. I’m eager to write up some stuff on that front, too!
Onwards and upwards!
ps. Star Trek Picard looks amazing.