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Tuesday 10th February 2015

Tuesday 10th February 2015

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Today was the day.
Our baby was considerate enough not to make an appearance before we could watch the new episode of “The Walking Dead’, but that consideration did not extend to “Better Call Saul” which will now have to wait. 
Yet aside from that she maybe chose the worst time to make her imminent arrival known, 15 minutes after I had gone to sleep. We were going to be awake for a long time. But screw it, sleep is for suckers and something we’re going to have to do without from now on and this would throw us in at the deep end.
Things progressed rapidly and we were at the hospital  by 5am - which at least meant the roads were clear for the cab ride. The excitement of knowing what was to come was tempered by the fact that Catie was going to go through and was starting to go through. My understanding from the Old Testament is that pain in childbirth is God’s punishment of Eve eating the apple from the tree of life, which seems a bit harsh. My wife never ate off the tree of life - she doesn’t even like apples that much. Also God must have known that when he put that tree there and told people not to eat from it, they would definitely eat from it, because he had created them with curiosity. It was apple-based entrapment. I suspect God just didn’t like women and wanted an excuse to punish them. But that’s only a guess. He’s a deeply weird character and I am not speaking behind His back. I’d say this to His face. In fact I suppose I just have done. 
My wife is a champion though and she withstood the punishment for a crime that she didn’t commit and didn’t take things out on me in the way that I had anticipated, remaining remarkably unresentful of my part in this. Once we got into the delivery room I obviously had a good go on the gas and air, although it didn’t have effects that I anticipated, only giving me a light giddiness and certainly didn’t put me in the mood to push a bowling ball through my anus. Which is something I had agreed to do for Comic Relief. Not because I like the idea of passing a bowling ball and wanted to do it anyway and anyone who says I do like that and they've seen me do it is lying.
My daughter’s heartbeat filled the room, banging like a drum played by an overexcited monkey, for the next few hours. I hope that heart will still be beating in the 22nd Century, which is a humbling thought. I wasn’t really looking forward to witnessing the birth - I am very squeamish and also love my wife so really don’t like the idea of her being hurt, even if she’s going to present me with a cool, tiny human afterwards. I was asked in advance if I wanted to cut the umbilical cord. I wasn’t sure that I’d be up for that. I thought I should stay at the non-business end throughout and try to keep my eyes shut.
Some women worry that if their husband sees them give birth it might affect the way they see them, but the experience only made me love and respect my wife more. She was a wonder and a marvel and worked hard to get my reluctant child out of her. Once the pushing starts the mother needs a steely determination to fight through the fatigue and relentless course of nature and Catie was steadfast and incredible.
When the time came I did have a look at what was going on. It didn’t make me squeamish and I didn’t  faint, but it was so freaky that my brain was unable to process it and about as realistic as the special effects in the original Total Recall. A screaming human head emerging from another human being is something that you don’t really have much experience of witnessing (unless you’re a midwife) and I couldn’t take it in. One moment the head looked small and dark, then I looked again and it was four times bigger and covered in white and then suddenly this bawling and unhappy screeching infant was out in the world. It felt like an alien had landed. 
I really hadn’t know what to expect and couldn’t picture my daughter beforehand, but evenso, in this first moment, she was not what I expected at all. Perhaps subconsciously I’d thought it would be like a Carry On Film and my child would be a baby in size but have a smaller version of my chuckling grown-up face. Or failing that would look like Sid James. Or maybe I thought I would somehow recognise her. But she looked like a brand new human being. A bit crumpled up and quite angry about what had happened, but it wasn’t like “Oh yes, there she is, my baby.” She felt like a stranger. But that’s what she was. Though not for very long.
I was in a daze and nothing seemed real, but I didn’t feel queasy, I was fascinated, yet temporarily distant. It’s never felt like it was actually happening all the way through the pregnancy, but it was so surreal and my perception of it so skewed that it didn’t feel like it had really happened yet. I cut the cord, wishing that I had brought along some big ceremonial scissors. My wife had given birth but I had freed my daughter from the bonds that had imprisoned her. So I am best.
Very quickly this screaming stranger turned into a placid and gorgeous little person who I did feel like I had known for the longest time. Time slowed right down. She bonded with her mum and then got weighed, which made her furious again, her mouth transformed into a huge rectangle of disdain. But then I got to hold her. She’s a cracker. I am so proud of my wife for what she’s done, in the face of God’s sexism and I am beguiled by this creature we’ve created, who sometimes looks like a little non-human creature, sometimes like a animatronic doll but mainly like the prettiest and best baby there has ever been. If she could write a blog about the day she’d have a lot to say. It’s a total mindfuck what’s happened to her. I understand the biology behind it and none of it seems possible to me. So what must it mean to her, when her previous understanding of the Universe was that she lived in the dark and got her food through a tube? But she can’t write a blog and I didn’t want to podcast her first moments or tweet or even tell anyone else for a while. 
We have called her Phoebe Doris Joy Herring. She weighed 3.36kg (7.4lbs). After her initial umbrage she seems to have a calm and contented temperament and is getting more aware and looking less anamatronic by the second. I am stupidly delighted to have met her, though would have preferred a less violent and dramatic introduction.


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