Daniel’s birth story

It’s been just over two months since my first son, Daniel James Choles, was born. I’ve been meaning to sit down and write the story of his birth, but adapting to the new massive change of having him in our lives has been getting in the way. To some degree Sam and I are still trying to figure out how life works in our new dispensation. Work has changed, social life has changed, marriage has changed …life has changed. Anyway, here is the story of the evening that Daniel James came into this world …

It was Easter Sunday morning, 4th April 2010. Sam and I woke up extra early so that we could get to the eMseni sunrise service. It’s one of our favourite church services of the year. It’s simply spectacular worshipping God as the sun rises. We had debated whether we should go. The last few months leading up to Daniel’s birth were quite intense from a community perspective.

Whenever we were at church we were inundated with people asking questions about when Daniel would arrive (like we could control it?). Towards the end, Daniel was a week late and all the questions and interest from loving church folk just became too much for us to handle. We actually had avoided church for the last few weeks because of this. It’s not that we resent all the attention. I maintain that being part of a loving community is one of the best support structures you could ever have. But it comes with a cost: attention. And at times, all the attention is a little two much to cope with. It became overwhelming for us, so we simply stayed away from Northfield.

So, we attended the Sunrise service with a little weariness. The night before Sam had had some lower back pain and we decided to go and get a Non-stress test done at the hospital that morning just to make sure everything was alright with baba (we didn’t know it was a boy). The service was great, but as soon as it ended we were swarmed with a group of friends asking, “When is your baby coming?” Sam burst into tears immediately. My instincts kicked in and I evacuated her from there leaving a group of friends wondering what had happened.

After the examination at the hospital the midwife at the hospital told us that she believed we would have a baby before the end of the evening. What?! It was finally here. She advised us to go home, relax, pack our bags and go for a long walk to stimulate the labour. We were in labour. We could not believe it.

The rest of the morning was chilled. We enjoyed a nice long walk, Sam packed her (many) bags and I watched some TV. All of this happened with a weird sense of expectation. Sam’s contractions gradually got stronger. I was tasked with recording the time between contractions. Thankfully I found a iPhone app that helped me with that 😉

At about three o’clock the contractions started in earnest. We had decided at the last minute (that morning) to hire Sue, our antenatal teacher, as our midwife for the birth. We stayed in touch with her and her advice was for Sam to get into the bath. This is when I kicked it up a notch and packed the car and made sure we had everything.

Sue arrived at five o’clock to check Sam out (who was in a fair amount of pain). Sue did an examination and suggested we start making our way to the hospital – we’re were officially in second stage labour. Into the car we got, moseyed down the N12 and found our way to Linkwood Clinic with about six heavy contractions on the way.

Sam found her bed in our room while I unpacked the car. Six trips later (yes, we had brought that much stuff with us) we were finally settled in. Baba’s heart rate was healthy and everyone was happy with Sam’s progress. I let some family and some friends know that our baby’s arrival was immanent.

At eight o’clock Sue did another exam, and the dilatation had not progressed much further. Sue suggested that she break the waters to speed things up. After this was done Sam’s contractions went to another level. It was at this point that she started to lose touch with time. Sam did not want much pain control, and only opted to have entonox gas at this point. Boy, she sucked the gas! We actually had quite a bit of fun in between contractions as Sam was pretty drunk as a result of the gas. Sue said to Sam that the gas is like being stoned, and then asked Sam, “have you ever smoked dope before?” Sam said no. Sue was shocked (she it quite a hippie to be honest).

By nine o’clock and many VERY painful contractions later Sam was in transition stage of labour. Brian Smith had always told me not to take anything Sam says during transition too personally. Fortunately, Sam was not too harsh, and persevered amazingly well. The pushing had now started. The midwives and hospital staff kicked into gear.

For the next hour and fifteen minutes Sam pushed, and boy did she push. She endured pain like never before. I was so heartened by how much of a trooper she was. I also had to work hard to keep her motivated. Worship music also helped. I bought an iPod docking boombox earlier in the day and we had my entire Hillsong United playlist playing in the room. There were times when our favourite songs played (Hosanna) just as Daniel was in the birthing canal.

Our gynae, Dr Bassin, eventually arrived in this time and had us take up some weird positions to try and get Daniel orientated better for the birth. I unfortunately cannot post the pics of these positions here 😉

At about 10 o’clock Dr Bassin asked me to help. I had said to him I want to assist with the birth previously.  Daniel started to come out, and as his head came out I put my hands around his shoulders and Dr Bassin said, “Now, pull.” I tried but let go. He was stuck. I couldn’t have to pull that hard – I feared I would pull him apart. Nope, the midwife said … pull. So I did. Daniel finally came out.

As he came out at 22h15 Sam saw him first and exclaimed, “It’s a boy!” Daniel was then put onto her chest and we absorbed the moment. It was overwhelming to be honest. We were both in tears as this messy lump lay on her chest crying. I was full of blood, Sam was full fo blood and Daniel was wearing his birthday suit 😉 The nursing staff busied themselves with other tasks as we took in the moment.

Daniel then got weighed (3.2kg) and measured (50cm) and had his tests done. Everything was excellent. I then stepped out of the room to call my family with the news. My phone had been going berserk with family and friends wanting updates on progress. I don’t think any of them realised that I was not able to be at the phone … the whole delivery experience was hectic. I phoned my mom and remember feeling a little numb, like all the emotions were too much and the result was a numb sounding Aiden. I don’t know how I sounded, but I was exhausted.

The gynae and midwives eventually finished up (they had to also store Daniel’s cord blood for stem cell storage) and left us alone for the first time with our precious boy. We were shattered and tried to get some sleep. Sam hardly slept, and I got an hour so in. We were just so aware of the sounds Daniel made in his crib next to our bed. It was awesome.

Writing this post has been helpful. I’ve always felt that the last few months have not provided me the opportunity to adequately process the birth experience. I’m now feeling like the experience is sinking in.

Daniel is now double the size he was when born. He now dishes out smiles at every opportunity he gets, and coo’s when he is happy.

It’s great being a dad!

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4 responses to “Daniel’s birth story”

  1. Lynda Smith says:

    Thanks for sharing Aiden.
    This is one of God’s most precious moments in life.
    One day, Daniel will be pleased that you recorded it.

  2. Jason says:

    Thank you,

    Aiden, for sharing this, it is great to know that Daniel come into this world with such loving parents (he choose well), and grand parents, and extended family and even those annoying friends with questions and without.

    Now i ask what is going to be hard to get you off the iphone or Daniel off of the Dummy (no rush here)!

  3. Natalie says:

    Great!! Makes me teary! Hopefully one day i experience the same… well sortof! ;p

  4. Lesley says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, its great to read another story of a father so determined to be present. I hope to hear more of your reflections on being a parent – I find it helpful to hear things from a father’s perspective seeing as I have to try, in some ways, to fill two roles. 🙂
    Well done to you and Sam.

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