This is part 1 in a 7 part series.
My wife Sarah, our princess Charlotte, and I
The best laid plans.
Here we are, three days from Due Date, and it’s time to induce.
It feels so surreal and I don’t expect reality to hit for a while. If our first, Charlotte, is anything to go by, that “while” could even take weeks from the time the baby is born.
That’s fine, too, and I intend to write a separate piece about how fatherhood can make us feel, or not feel. But briefly, if you’re a worrier (I can be a worrier), counsel yourself that it’s okay to feel however you’re feeling.
Sometimes it feels like I’m living Seasons 1 to 5 of Family Guy; you know, where Bonnie – the wife of next-door neighbour Joe – is pregnant for five years.
My wife being pregnant has become the norm. I am fully aware that’s not the reality for Sarah, who has a constant, uncomfortable reminder that there is a baby arriving soon.
For me, it’s more of a challenge to fully comprehend. Even though this is Take 2, so much feels new. Take this evening’s induction, for example.
The final scan showed some calcification of the placenta and, among other concerns, Take 2 wasn’t hitting the weight marks he was supposed to, so our midwife decided it’s best to induce. We never had that for Charlotte; we’d made the booking for the induction, but she decided to arrive the day before anyway.
So, it feels like I’m going in blindfolded again and I have a tendency to get more anxious the less prepared I feel. Blindfolded is not ideal.
Being a journalist, asking questions has never been an issue for me. My wife is often stunned at some of the blunt questions that come out of my mouth, so picking the brain of the midwife has been easy. Sarah’s found it helpful, too: I’ve asked questions she’d either forgotten about or was hesitant to ask herself.
Google is a good friend, too. I’ve just finished reading an article after Googling, “induced labour what to expect”.
Other than that, the only thing I can do is prepare for the preparable, which, as the husband, is limited to the practicalities of the whole thing and still leaves me feeling fairly useless.
Sarah and I have been actively preparing Charlotte for the arrival of her new brother, “baby Jono”, for weeks.
That’s been a really important focus; she has been our entire world for the past two-and-a-bit years and I’d hate her to feel her priority place in our lives suddenly takes a hit with the arrival of No.2.
I’ve installed the second car seat in the cars and we’ve bought a scooter board for the pram (Gumtree is amazing); rudimentary tasks, but they needed doing and now they’re done.
The study – my beloved study – has been gutted and converted into Charlotte’s new room, which we made into a big event for her second birthday, so that she could give her old room to Baby Jono. That was a multi-weekend job, but we nailed it.
We’ve organised the logistics of this evening and the next morning, which involve me dropping Charlotte at my mum’s before Sarah and I drive up to the hospital. We’ve talked to Charlotte about it, so she knows what’s coming and is excited for her sleepover.
Sarah has been amazing – overcooking and freezing meals for Charlotte and me while she’s in hospital, and for her when she returns home.
From what I’m told, once the induction process begins (some gel applied) Sarah will get some sleeping tablets and nod off, at which point I’ll return to our house. We’re lucky we’re only 15 minutes from the hospital, so I’ll head back the next morning for the birth.
My mum will base herself at our house after Charlotte’s sleepover, so that all the toys and familiar surrounds are on-hand.
I’ll take back the reins once Jono is born, building visits to the hospital into Charlotte’s daytime routine.
The health insurance is up to date and I’ve reconfirmed we have maternity cover, despite already having had one baby (like I said, I’m a worrier).
Sarah’s “overnight” bag is packed, but I’m expecting to do shuttle-runs between the house and hospital to pick up anything we’ve forgotten.
I mentioned I like to be prepared, and because this is the first time I’ll be flying Han Solo with Charlotte for at least three days, I’ve planned a schedule for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, as well as activities we’ll do during the days. I could have done this on the fly, of course, but it’ll help me make it enjoyable for Charlotte, given I won’t be worried about the “what next?”.
There’s more, but those are the main tasks. I call it being prepared. You’ll probably read this and call it neurotic.
Now, we wait.
I’m not even sure how I feel; it’s such a big moment – the arrival of another new life that’s never existed in the open before – that I don’t think it’s possible to fully prepare, or know what to feel.
But, like I said, that’s okay.
The important part is being there and being prepared to be there. The rest will come with time – whether I’m prepared, or not.
Part 2: The time I cried