Note before: This is an old “Diary Entry” from the Modem-Help site, re-jigged into the etmg format. The original site is now long gone.
...and incidentally makes me a Grandfather. Good Lord. The birth took place at 09:56 am GMT on Tuesday 15 January 2002 at The Portland Hospital for Women & Children, Great Portland Street, Westminster, London, England.
Micaela wasn’t due until a month or so but Liisa went to her doctor for her regular check up & the doctor discovered that she was already 3 centimetres dilated. Now, I need to apologise immediately to all men & virgins reading this — that’s virgins in the old sense, of course, those women that haven’t given birth — but mothers seem to love this kind of deep gynaecological detail, and I’m just the reporter. Liisa was admitted to the maternity unit immediately & at 01:30 am on Tuesday contractions began. That’s 8 hours of birth-pains. 8 hours, for crying out loud. I know that many births take even longer, but I wouldn’t even want orgasm to continue for that length of time.
After these 8 hours Liisa’s cervix had dilated further (10 cm I seem to recall her saying) but the doctors made their decision and a Caesarian was arranged. Davin stayed in the room (a modern father, of course) and the nurses screened mum’s tum and the doctor wielded the knife, and suddenly Liisa’s worries about stretch-marks were redundant.
Davin was born by surgical intervention also, although in his poor mum’s case it was an episiotomy (faint hearts look away now). His birth was induced by the use of drugs dripped into his mum’s bloodstream. The doctors & nurses will tell you that this was done for sound medical reasons, and the fact that it allows a day-time birth, rather than the more usual (and more costly) night-time birth, was not a factor. Both mother & baby suffered mightily during labour. After a very long time — I recall it being days rather than hours — Davin finally began to appear. The top of his head was visible but the final opening still wasn’t big enough. If he was pushed out at this point... The doctor announced his intentions & the boss nurse declared she wanted me out of the room (yes, I was an early version of the modern man). It was my wife that wanted me there & there was no way that I was leaving. The doctor had a quick word with me & said that he was OK with me staying, which settled matters. Now, I don’t know if episiotomy is the correct word — I’ve looked through all my dictionaries & reference books, including Gray’s Anatomy (which doesn’t even mention Birth, of course) and cannot find it (double-checked afterwards, and it is) — but the procedure was a cut that started at the vagina & ended in a curve around the rectum. The cut itself wasn’t a problem for Davin’s mum — the relief of the pressure of his birth almost certainly over-shadowed it — but the prick of the needle giving the local anaesthetic caused her to scream. Davin appeared shortly after, blue, and with the birth cord wrapped in an Anaconda embrace around his neck & shoulders. In my emotional memory of what happened next (rather than reality) the doctor placed a foot against Davin, gripped the cord with both hands and wrested it off his body. In fact, reality was not much different — only the use of the foot is missing! It took 2 twists of the cord to get it free, then shortly after Davin parted from his mum & sucked his first breath.
(Faint hearts can look back again now) In spite of my presence at Davin’s birth, on reflection after all these years I do not think that fathers should be present. It is something that has nothing whatsoever to do with men. Clearly, mothers need friends in the birth-room, but the only reason that the father is the only friend is because of modern isolation. Davin’s mum screamed at the prick of the anaesthetic needle because nobody involved thought to explain what was about to happen. I spent agonies at the dentist until I found one that would apply a skin anaesthetic before use of the needle, plus give an explanation of what was going to be done. Humans are unique on the planet in being more than their bodies — we are brains & minds & souls & spirits as well, and all need to be included in on whatever is happening. Doctors & nurses only seem to see bodies — it is probably how they cope with what they have to do — but this is a very one-dimensional view.
Finally, talking with my father gave yet another view on these affairs. I was born at Hedon Road Infirmary (in Hull in 1949), and my father’s first view of me was when he returned from work & found me snug ‘n’ warm in an attache case in front of the fire (my mum’s innovation). Fathers at that time, you can tell, were utterly ignored by everyone, even to the point of being expected to carry on working through everything.
--------- Alex Kemp