Over half way on the long commute from the country to the town I got the call, “Come back. I don’t want to be on my own.” When a pregnant woman commands, you obey by reflex. I spun the car around and rushed back. Past experience (the little man) has taught me that these things can happen very slowly and rushing is futile. Then another past experience(the little lady) has taught me not to drag my feet and dither, these things can happen fast and catch you out. Experience has taught me nothing.
Back at the cottage the lovely Sharon was convinced that things had begun and a new soul would arrive any time between soon to several days…….
We went for a walk. It was a slow walk near shops, supermarkets, civilisation and the closeness of hospital care. We walked and talked and waited. Later we picked up the little people and headed back home to try and pretend everything was normal.
In the morning nothing happened and we pretended again. The usual Saturday pancakes, the usual Saturday lunch. We went walking again, this time beside the river to try and let it wash away our worry. I remember the water was high and chaotic: a torrent in full force after weeks of building volume saturating everything around it. I remember it that it felt like my anxiety. It didn’t sit with me like a metaphor. Too real. Too raw.
After the walk I dropped the lovely Sharon off at the hospital and drove off with the little people leaving her alone. That was difficult.
Granny and Granda arrived to look after the little people and I returned to the hospital to join the waiting. We waited and waited until I had to leave the ward. They gave me a blanket to sleep in the waiting room. The room was full of light and noise, and cold. Outside in the night was dark and much colder. I choose my down sleeping bag in the frozen car, until the lovely Sharon’s fancy motion detector car alarm threw me out and back to the waiting room. Another expectant father slept beside me with his portable radio and his snoring. I few hours later I fell asleep for a half hour until my phone rang: the pain had begun.
So much pain. Nobody can ever know someone else’s pain. We can pretend to sympathise and empathise but it is nothing and futile. I can’t begin to understand as I have never experienced it.
I cried when I heard his first cry. His was a reflex of breath and a gasp at the air, a grasp at the life around him. Mine was a reflex of my anxiety and joy bursting in an uncontrollable way. It caught me by surprise but was glad to feel it. I cut the cord and the cutting merged old memories with new ones.
Two days later we were all home and we were a family again; a bigger one. I honestly can’t remember what we did for those few days at home. I guess we reminded ourselves how to look after a tiny baby. We didn’t venture very far as it felt like our whole world was there at home with the little people and the new, littlest, man.