Apparently, in pregnant women, back problems are common. All the bones and bits loosen up with the help of hormones, preparing the body for giving birth. Amazing stuff really. We weren't going for home births, or water births or anything extraordinary. We hoped the baby wouldn't know the difference and went for the standard delivery menu. My girlfriend also left at check in, whatever modesty remained to this point.
Arriving at the hospital, signs we'd never noticed before took on a new significance. They were helpful too, in their own little way as we walked wide eyed towards destiny.
Now just a little detail about the time after 6.00am. Those ante-natal classes were a good idea. We had an idea of what to expect. My girlfriend told me "I don't want an epidural, don't let them give me one; even if I ask for it, which I won't. No epidural". I nodded my head slowly. The ground rules were laid.
Apart from those instructions, I didn't really perform any useful function other than being there. The staff were there to handle the medical stuff, me to cheer on the team. I found it difficult to watch my girlfriend in pain (even natural pain) some of the time. This role was as it should be though; because this occasion, this happening, is a woman thing. To actually give birth to another human is a serious personal milestone and belongs to her.
One thing as the Dad to Be; you learn that having a baby is a serious business. We are really lucky to have access to have great midwives, doctors and facilities in Australia. If something does go wrong, we were in the right place. There are so many places where mums to be have babies in unbelievably bad conditions with little or no medical backup.
The laughing gas stuff was on tap and my girlfriend made good use of it. In fact, as labour progressed she didn't need any elastic straps to hold the mask on. Suction alone was good enough. Some pain killers were given by injection. I had a quick sample of the gas as well, whoa (If only she knew the pain I was in, standing, watching, having my hand and arm squeezed). As things moved along in the last couple of hours, my girlfriend informed me that she had changed her mind and wanted an epidural - NOW. PLEASE? NOW! She was quite controlled about this but the message was clear. What was she trying to do? Make it tough for me? Luckily, the midwives ruled out this option, it was too late. My girlfriend was later happy it went that way; she wanted to deliver as naturally as possible.
Being present when your baby is born is a privilege. You get to actually see what is happening around the world, all the time; to see your child arrive in this world and take their first breath, make their first cry.
Considering my girlfriends low, low threshold of pain, it was a magnificent effort. Considering I'm so tough I eat chains for breakfast, it was more than possible that the mist I saw when our boy arrived, was actually in my eyes.