All three children were planned. All were anticipated with love. No gender was known in advance. All three births were different experiences. There were absolutely no similarities.
The first was the most physically demanding. The labour was about 5 hours but seemed to be difficult. Lots of pain and not much movement. Drugs were administered but did not work. I had announced at least 1 hour before birth that I could see its head – and indeed I could see a head with hair. After a lot of further exhausting painful effort the Doctor finally held up the forceps in a threatening manner and this did the trick. The forceps looked both medieval and veterinary and did look frightening. They did the trick and Tom was extruded shortly after without the help of the forceps. But Tom was born drugged and asleep. As soon as he came out he was whisked away to a corner in the room and tubes were inserted in his mouth and throat. After a short time however we could hear him breathing if only like a dentists suction tube. This was a relief. Normal breathing was soon resumed. The Doctor checked him over before he commenced the tiresome duty of sewing Jenny up. After Jenny was sewn up Tom was handed to us. He still had his eyes closed. We both held him close to our faces. He opened his eyes. Looking straight at us. Seemingly in recognition. HELLO. Hello we both said in unison.
Jenny asked for a cup of tea – the first she had had in 8 months. She had gone off tea while pregnant. Tom still looks at us in the same recognising way.
The next birth was on a Saturday morning. Jenny had feelings she wasn't sure of so she phoned the hospital they said to come in. There was no urgency. No hurry. However the moment we walked into the ward area she had a massive contraction and we were shown into the birthing room. We were welcomed by what appeared to be a 19 year old girl. What had happened on the previous Wednesday was that Jenny’s Doctor had been killed in a car accident. We had not been told anything apart that he was dead. I did not exactly ask if the girl was here on work study or what school she went to but she could see my concern and she laughingly explained that she was a Doctor – the Hospital Registrar and she was here to supervise the birth.
And she was wonderful. She took charge straight away. Jenny went into deep contractions close together and The Doctor announced that the birth was imminent. She just had to break the waters. Which she did and indeed the waters came gushing out like a fountain. She then told Jenny to stop pushing as he was coming too quickly. She said she wanted to get the head right. She inserted her hand into Jenny and held James down while keeping Jenny calm. She then said OK push and James immediately came out. He almost shot out. It was like he was coming out of underwater. As he came out he put his hands in the air as if to cheer that he had made it out. He started crying immediately. He was placed on Jenny’s chest while the umbilical chord was cut and he immediately tried to suck. He had dark hair. Lots of it. He was happy to be alive.
The third came slowly but surely. Were they contractions she was having? Should we go to the hospital or should we wait. We went to the Hospital and waited there. Jenny said it felt different. It must be a girl. It wasn't a big thing. We did not mind.
Suddenly things sped up. Jenny said she felt she was not prepared. And there was no Doctor there. He was away on an urgent case. There were two midwives and they reassured her that all was well and they would handle it. And they did. Their technique was to urge breathing deeply with every contraction. Jenny tried but requested gas and took it in hungrily. They reassured her that everything was OK. The baby was pointing the right way. They had their listening devices and they could tell the baby was not stressed. Their listening devices looked over 100 years old but they knew what they were doing. They appeared to be made out of Bakelite. They kept placing them on Jenny’s stomach and listening on the other end. Everything was OK. Just keep breathing and don't do any pushing as yet. Jenny said that she could not help pushing. She was worried she might want to go to the toilet. Not possible said the midwives. Don t worry about it. Just don't push. Jenny said she couldn't not push. "OK, Push" they said. She pushed with relief. And Alexander was born shortly after without too much trouble. He came out like he was still in the foetal position. The first thing I saw was his testicles. There was no mistaking him for a girl. I told Jenny and she was pleased. Another boy. Alex cried for a short while but then seemed to relax and went to sleep lying on Jenny’s chest.