This is a guest blog post written by my partner Chris.
Nothing could have prepared, not only, me but also Cartier for our labour adventure. Now I call it an adventure because to me that’s the most accurate way of describing the whole labour process.
By now, I’m sure most reading this will have read Cartier’s labour story and how she views the whole adventure. After I took the time to sit down and digest her thoughts on it, I then wanted to share my own. Please keep in mind that writing down my thoughts and experiences for the world to read is a huge step for me but I also believe it’s something that really isn’t talked about in the dad world.
Leading up to Sahara’s birth I was lucky enough to have had a couple of work mates who were also having their first child. This was a huge help to me as I had some others to talk to about similar experiences in regards to how our Mrs’s where handling and reacting to the pregnancy journey. However, on the flip side of that, us men, well we don’t often share with each other if we are nervous, sad, anxious or just in general feeling a little lost. I will admit now and I’m sure at the time Cartier could tell but I never truly let on a couple of things. One of them being that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. And two; that I was extremely nervous, excited yes, but extremely nervous.
There were lots of nights driving home from work, I would ring mum or dad and really question if I was up for the task and if I could handle being a dad because up until Cartier went into labour it was all pretty easy physically for me. I would help out more around the house where I could see needed it, I’d occasionally have to be the one to get off the couch for a minor reason, like getting Cartier a drink, and lastly I would also remind Cartier that she looks amazing. So, in all honesty all the way up to labour for dads-to-be, I believe that physically it’s pretty easy but it’s the mental and emotional side of things that get tough.
I have always been someone to keep my feelings to myself other than when I really want people to know. I mean in my eyes I could see Cartier putting her body though the ringer and also having those emotional swings where one day everything is great, everything it tracking well and then other days where she feels as if nothing is going right. Therefore, who was I to complain considering my body wasn’t changing, I’m still moving freely each day, I’m not tired all the time or throwing up. In fact, I would joke with people when they would say “Are you nervous?” To which I would reply “Ah, it will be easy, babies only sleep and eat!” And sometimes I would believe myself when I said it. When I look back now I realise I was a little foolish and not very helpful to Cartier’s state of mind by brushing such a major event off and dismissing it like that.
As most of you will have read on Cartier’s labour post, she had to be induced. Now the way I thought things would flow on from there and how they actually unfolded were completely different. I am not sure why, but I thought “Ah yeah, she will be induced, I’ll cruise home and chill out, pop back in at 6AM, by about midday we will be holding our little girl in our arms.” Hooley dooley, how wrong was I!
Now for the people that know me, it’s a well-known fact I’m a little rough around the edges, very blunt, and nothing seems to bother me too much 99% of the time. A few people joked and said “Becoming a dad will soften you, and wait until you go through labour…” Again I brushed it off and said “Ah I’ll be right. I’m not the one that has to do all the work.” And yes that is true, but I didn’t realise the emotional rollercoaster I was about to be on would take such a toll on me.
Cartier was taken down to the birthing suite around midnight and I got the call to come on in; at the time I was sitting on the couch at home playing PlayStation and hadn’t slept since I got out of bed at about 6AM that morning. I grabbed my backpack with a change of clothes, head phones and charger, and headed in to the hospital.
Upon arrival I saw Cartier sitting on a fit ball nice and calm with the baby heart rate monitor strapped to her belly. My first thoughts where “This isn’t so bad.” I set the room up with a few tea lights, some music and just settled in for whatever was about to happen. Again, I won’t go into step by step as Cartier has already covered that. The first big shock for me was as things progressed, I could see Cartier in more and more pain. That was enough to make me feel pretty unwell because, like anyone, you hate seeing the person you love in pain. But I kept a brave face and reassured Cartier that she could do it, that she was doing the best job ever (even though I had nothing to compare it too). As time went on, really the only thing that changed were Cartier’s pain levels; our little girl was being quite stubborn and didn’t really want to leave where she had been hanging out for over 9 months.
To me this was surprising because if you are going to be induced then surely that means things will happen quickly and controlled because a doctor has bought it on right? Once again, it’s all these little details that no one really talks about. I do have mates in Tasmania who already have multiple kids, but do you think we ever really talked about this? In no way is that a dig at those dads either, I just honestly think it’s quite taboo for dads to talk about their feelings and what they went through in their labour adventure.
As Cartier’s pain levels kept rising and Panadine Forte, the happy gas, and nearly each offering the doctors had to try and make Cartier more comfortable, were not working it was really starting to get to me. Not many people have seen me fully break down because it just simply doesn’t happen but when Cartier looked at me and said, “I want to go home, I want my mum,” it broke me, it literally smashed me down into a million little pieces. I started crying but you know that type of crying where you try to hold it in and not let anyone else see it. That soon left me with my face buried into the bed next to where Cartier was laying; I was holding her hand and saying “I’m sorry,” as if that was going to fix it.
Nothing could have prepared me for what it felt like when the person you care most about in the whole world is literally begging to go home and to be with her mum who is on the other side of the world. It was only when our student midwife Annie put a hand on my shoulder and asked “Are you ok?” and then went on to say “You are doing a great job, go and have a couple of minutes outside and pull it back together.” Honestly this was the lowest part of the labour and the part that up until now I’ve pushed down and tried not to give much thought.
After pulling myself back together and realising that I need to be there for Cartier to help get her and our baby girl across the line I went back into the room, and I believe things started to progress. Cartier agreed to having an epidural which I was unbelievably relieved about. Cartier wanted a natural birth with no drugs, no intervention and although that just wasn’t going to happen, she still was doing the best job through my eyes. Once the epidural want in, things quietened down a lot; Cartier and I went back to having normal conversations and really just waiting around for the next progression in meeting our daughter.
When the time came to push, 3 midwifes where present. I kinda expected a doctor there but no there wasn’t, and I believed all was tracking well. I still feel like the actual birthing part of labour for me went by pretty quickly with a lot of me switching from one side of the bed to the other to stay out of somebodies’ way. I remember it was nothing like what I expected, with Cartier laying on her side, then turing to the opposite side, then having her legs in the stirrups. The midwifes do a bloody epic job at keeping calm and being informative at what stage Sahara was in birth.
Once seeing her head appear, it was almost like with the next big push a small lifeless baby was out and in the real world only to be plonked onto Cartier’s chest. There was no crying, no screaming. I could see Cartier was starting to panic a little because, once again from watching all the movies all babies come out kicking and screaming! Cartier had started bleeding while all this was happening and suddenly it went from 3 midwifes to about 9 people in a small birthing suite. No one was really telling us what was going on, so I just continued to do my best at keeping Cartier calm and trying to focus on the first few minutes of Sahara’s life rather than the pool of blood that was getting bigger and bigger on the floor and to what looked like to me a whole lot of scrambling to stem the flow.
It’s something I really haven’t talked about with anyone because even now it upsets me to play those images back in my head. After what felt like forever and an unbelievable about of poking and prodding the midwives and doctors slowly started leaving the room and things began to calm down. I could go into a heck of a lot more detail, but I already feel like I’ve written a lot in this blog post.
I guess overall labour was honestly one of the hardest things I have ever experienced, also watching Cartier go though it too was extremely difficult and there were lots of times I wished I could have been the one to have taken the pain instead of her. She’s a tough little cookie but I just hated seeing her go through that so much.
The whole idea of this blog post was too share some of the things I went through with the world so that maybe it helps one bloke or one mum-to-be to ask her man and really push him to explain how he really feels.
I am extremely lucky to be in a friendship group that talks and reminds one another that it is alright to talk about things that men normally don’t. I know I can get onto the group chat and instantly have some mates that will support me; a lot of blokes don’t have that. I believe it’s important that we change the stigma that comes with men and hiding their emotions and pushing them down and not dealing with them.
I will finish up by saying that becoming a dad is the most amazing and enjoyable thing I have ever done in my life, yeah, its bloody scary sometimes and you literally have no idea what you are doing. But believe me when I say I wouldn’t change it for the world! I am one of the lucky ones to have a beautiful inspiring partner such as Cartier by my side to be my anchor and bring me back down to earth when I feel like nothing is going right.
I will be forever thankful of the safe arrival of Sahara Grace Finniss-Hughes and forever proud of the way Cartier delivered her happy and healthy into my arms on the 8th of October 2021.