By Ginger | September 13, 2000
And there was me thinking I’d seen some interesting stuff. I must have asked God for an interesting life somewhere along the line, and in the true tradition of being careful what you wish for, I certainly got one. Witnessing your baby arriving into this world is pretty spectacular on any level, let alone when it gets as traumatic and as scary as this shit.
I’ve got a baby! I’m a dad! That ambassador of all things violent and cowardly in my life as a small child. That paragon by which all things are measured in the transition they call manhood. I didn’t have a dad until I was too old to really have a use for one, and there I was sitting in waiting for my turn to add to the list of possible embarrassments to the term fatherhood.
Meeting God in a dentist’s waiting room is a pretty accurate description of the amount of trepidation I felt. It’s a feeling of hopelessness beyond anything you could have nightmares about. After settling into the long labour, and thinking this was an ass that could be made mincemeat of, the real world kicked in with a force as familiar as any sudden dread ever previously felt. The pain that the brave mother (aren’t they all? Damn right they are!) had to endure became too unbearable to continue the ‘natural’ approach to deliverance, resulting in an epidural (a tube inserted into the spine – one scary fucking procedure guys. Do not watch). And as the waiting started to feel like it would go on forever and ever and ever, little Jake decided this would be a cool time to suddenly sneak up on everyone and show up. Bang!!! From boredom to birthing in seconds. Or at least that’s how it felt.
Dilating like a mothermother, and speeding downstairs in a lift seemingly a century older than the hospital it operated in, this child seemed intent on doing things his way even before his arrival. The chances of your first baby landing on the predicted due date is, by all accounts, pretty slim. But this guy obviously plans to use rules like toys, so he arrived bang on time. Delivery wasn’t helped by a fever that Angie was going through in the later stages, setting the baby’s heart rate racing out of normal rhythm… still, all’s well so far.
OK, so the looks of derision from the delivery staff when the father turned up with dreads poking out of the top of his regulation hospital-green paper hat bordered on shock. Rock ‘n roll births aren’t as common as they used to be apparently. The doctor in charge of containing the ensuing panic was a man called Dr Teo (of St Mary’s Hospital, Lindo wing, Paddington, WC2, should anyone need the best at any time… hey, send him a card if you’re touched!), who ranks as my number one most impressive man in the history of awe (knocking Keef Richards from the top spot after a run of 35 years, no less). Dr Teo rapidly realised that the baby wasn’t coming out, even with the aid of the most brutal looking ‘plunger’ device seen since the illegalisation of burning witches, and the heart rate was plummeting rapidly. When the baby retreated back into the womb, twisting around and tangling itself in the umbilical cord, the decision to perform an emergency Caesarean operation was swift and unavoidable. And a truly harrowing experience, even from my side of the experiencing… and thank fuck for that epidural.
To see your girl sliced across the lower stomach and a doctor reach right inside and pull out your baby is something that there are no words to describe. Shock doesn’t even skim the brim of the surface. Wonder usually describes something that you take photographs of to show your mates. Even joy merely explains a bundle of emotions that you feel. But this feeling isn’t even expected, let alone digested, and leaves the observer in a state not unlike an out-of-body experience. On acid.
Jake arrived armed with an un-wrinkled face (one of the few cool side products of a ‘Caesar’, as well as what someone charmingly called ‘honeymoon freshness’ – you figure it out!) and a heavy mass of black hair. Very blue and very weak, but very much happening. Unlike the scene going on behind me where a young girl was losing half her body’s worth of blood as claret sprayed in every direction and a bunch of bags and tubing, designed to be on the inside, lay sprawled out upon her stomach… for around 50 minutes while the womb became healthy enough to have the various organs placed back inside and arranged in their proper order.
Saving Private Ryan was anaemic in comparison.
And then the sewing started. Man, those doctors don’t know the meaning of fear and deserve medals every time they do this shit. Stretching, stitching and stapling, and then back upstairs to the relative sanity of our room where the true miracle of this whole thing came full circle and baby took to breast. Man, this sight beats anything. Seeing God, boarding a UFO, awards ceremonies, giving awards to people that deserve ’em… nothing is this gratifying. It proves that Nature has it all under control and anything that seems unfair in Nature’s world is all part of one grand design. Nature kicks ass.
Well, little Jake is fantastic, Angie is doing better than a girl with a bellyful of embroidery should be expected to fare. And me? I’m convinced that no matter how bad it gets, it can always improve. And if it can improve, it can be fantastic. And if it can get fantastic, there’s a very great chance that it’ll get so good that you’ll sometimes have a hard time believing that it’s you living it. And you’ll get a little pang of guilt that’ll last for a second or two, until you realise that you deserve it; you deserve everything that’s coming your way.
Stay in there, kids, this ride is a lot crazier than you could ever guess. Life man, life. Everything else is stupid! It may be be hard sometimes (and sometimes really hard), but bravery in the face of adversity sure pays back good.
Yours… proving it over and over again.