Episode 11

#11 Birth Story – Kelly and Anthony The Matrescence Podcast

In this episode, Kelly sits down with her husband Anthony to walk through the birth of their two boys, born in 2008 and 2010. It's an exploration of a couple well into their relationship and parenting journey as they recount the stories, emotions and very different births, one in Australia and the other overseas.It's a rare opportunity to hear a dad's story, in his own words and experience the interplay of funny anecdotes, difficult moments and honest emotions.Don't miss this episode.

Transcript

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[00:00:00] Kelly: [00:00:00] The birth of a baby is a defining moment in a woman’s life. 

[00:00:14] Bree: [00:00:14] But what about the birth of a mother?

[00:00:16]Kelly: [00:00:16] That’s right when a baby is born so too is a mother

[00:00:20]Bree: [00:00:20] This transition from woman to mother has a name it’s called Matrescence. 

[00:00:25] Kelly: [00:00:25] This developmental stage is as powerful and irreversible as adolescence, and yet few women have ever heard of it.

[00:00:32] Bree: [00:00:32] So let’s talk about it. 

[00:00:33] Kelly: [00:00:33] Let’s talk about it. Each episode, we will bring you honest and thought provoking conversations, evidence-based research and knowledgeable guests in order to help you emerge a more powerful and aligned version of yourself. 

[00:00:47] Bree: [00:00:47] So join us, your hosts, Kelly and Bree as we attempt to make sense of our Matrescence  journey and to help you make sense of yours.

[00:01:00] [00:00:55] Kelly: [00:00:55] In  episode, I’ve roped my husband, Anthony, into telling our birth stories with me. You’ll have to bare with me as I do jp around a bit, miss some important things and generally get in the way of letting him tell the story. I had no idea I’d be so nervous interviewing my own husband, but the result is beautiful. An honest and thoughtful account of our births through his eyes.

[00:01:25] I hope you enjoy it as much as I did getting to listen to my own birth story through the eyes of my husband.

[00:01:35] So welcome and thank you for joining me today. A bit of an interesting one to sit down and tell our birth stories  together I’m here with my husband. 

[00:01:46] Anthony: [00:01:46] Do you need me to say something?

[00:01:49]Kelly: [00:01:49] How excited you are to be here with me today? 

[00:01:52] Anthony: [00:01:52] Yes, I’m very excited. 

[00:01:55] Kelly: [00:01:55] Great. So if you’ve already listened to some of our earlier podcasts, you will [00:02:00] realize that I have two boys aged 11 and 12 currently.

[00:02:04] So we are going to talk today about the story of each their births briefly and also about the loose context of our parenting over those last 12 years. So starting with the eldest We had not planned to have children. So finding out that we were pregnant more as a surprise, which meant that we had a really condensed period of time to work out how we wanted to birth, where we wanted to birth, how we wanted to parent, and to get really clear about the alignment of values and what was important to us as we went into this really important phase of our life.

[00:02:36] So before we go into the birth itself, I just want to ask you. What do you remember about that moment? When I said I’m pregnant and what were the feelings? And you can be very honest because I know this was not one of those wow yipee moments you

[00:02:52] Anthony: [00:02:52] Well,  I think you touched on it earlier, we  certainly weren’t trying for a child and we’re about to move overseas.

[00:02:58] So there was [00:03:00] the added I suppose, complexity around that. But, you know, for a long time, I’d always wanted to be a father, but when it comes and it’s not planned, it’s still a shock.  I knew I was with the right person, so that wasn’t a concern, but I knew things were going to change in my mind I had bigplans for when we lived overseas and they had to be re-thought through I can’t say I was disappointed I was probably. Thinking back, or I was still pretty happy, but you know, it’s those mixed emotions that you go through, is this good? Yes, it is. How’s it going to affect us in the future? Going into this period of big change for both of us. So it was a real mixed bag and a lot of ups and downs, I think. 

[00:03:45] Kelly: [00:03:45] Yeah. No, but that’s good to your perspective because I don’t ever remember us thinking, Oh, this can’t happen. It was like, Oh, ITs happened. What are we going to do now? And what does it mean?

[00:03:55]Anthony: [00:03:55] Yeah, and obviously there’s options for people [00:04:00] that, we all know about, but it was never an option not to just continue on. , that was, that was the big thing. And I think because I knew I was with the right person and the time was never, probably never going to get better. We just took the ball and run with it.

[00:04:17] Kelly: [00:04:17] Yeah, so fast forward. And we ended up going to the UK getting enrolled in midwifery led care under the national health service over there and you attended many of those appointments.  I think we were really lucky and I touched on this in another episode, we were very lucky to go into that system because we really didn’t know what we didn’t know, but that bubbled up a bunch of information, which helped me write my birth preferences, which at that time we called a birth plan and reading back over those and even watching our videos, I think both of us were reasonably informed for first-time parents about what was going to happen and the options now that by no means prepares you for labor, but at least we knew what we wanted out of that birth [00:05:00] process.

[00:05:00] And in particular, my fight to be able to have a natural birth, given that I had a prior medical history and being allowed to go into the labor in wards. So it all starts with a friend of mine arriving on the Friday night. I worked right up until I went into labor and a friend of mine who wanted to be at the birth.

[00:05:21] And at the time I had never really heard of people having someone outside at the birth which is ironic now that I’m, planning to be a doula. But a friend of mine really wanted to be there. I asked Anthony and he said, yeah, that’s fine. To be honest, neither of us were that comfortable with it, but we also weren’t uncomfortable with it.

[00:05:37] It was just like, well, if you really want to, I suppose it’s okay. So she kept having a dream that the baby had come, even though I thought it was going to go late. And we, she arrived on the Friday night and we proceeded to have a really good time. So cooked dinner, had a few drinks. And do you remember what happened on that night?

[00:05:59] Anthony: [00:05:59] , I [00:06:00] think her and I got into a drinking contest, which was, seemed like a good idea at the time. And clearly it, uh, it wasn’t, but you know, I think going back a step All of those classes that we went to I think that you were in a really, we were in a really good place, I think London, maybe because of its population and its access to universities and all of that sort of good stuff.

[00:06:25]They really had a lot of programs in place that helped us through it. But I’d say to any dad out there that you still feel like the third wheel no matter how many of these things you go to, your wife’s obviously the pregnant one and you’re going on to support her, but you do feel like the third wheel and sometimes you don’t feel like you have a voice and that’s not something that comes from your wife or partner, but I suppose it comes from within yourself. I know it did for me. I sort of had to just go along with the process, I [00:07:00] suppose. But maybe that was part of my insecurity. Maybe that was because it was my first time, because I think with the second time it does get easier, but the first time.

[00:07:10] You’re really like a deer in headlights to a lot of these things. And obviously you go to certain appointments by yourself without me because there’s no need for me to be there, but obviously it can be a bit of a weird time for the male, I suppose, because all the focus is on the female and and probably rightly so, but I’m just saying that for anyone out there that is feeling this way it’s probably normal, I think, from speaking to other fathers as well.

[00:07:39]Kelly: [00:07:39] Yeah. That’s a good point. I know, I suppose this is why this is such a powerful conversation I never really thought about, there’s no preparation for fathers at all. We go along and the woman gets poked and prodded and asked, how are you, how are you going? What do you need? But you’re, you are a passenger on that. There’s no. You know, what do you think you need to do to prepare as a father? [00:08:00] There’s only the question of what do you do when the baby comes out? Do you want skin to skin or not, but it’s nothing about that. Mental, psychological, emotional preparation for becoming a father.

[00:08:09] Anthony: [00:08:09] Yeah. And I, I probably could have enjoyed the process more if it wasn’t my first, I think it would have been I would have had the you know the background, but there’s always gotta be a first time. And I suppose in hindsight, to to go through all that was a good thing. 

[00:08:26] Kelly: [00:08:26] That’s so interesting. The women, we feel the same as women. If I only knew what I knew, then, so that’s great reflection. Thanks. 

[00:08:35] Anthony: [00:08:35] So we back to the story. But yeah we decided to get into a drinking contest because. I don’t really know why, but it was like a release of, of a lot of buildup of I suppose, stress coming up to the birth that you probably at the time don’t realize because everyone just thinks you should be happy.

[00:08:55] And there is a lot of stress and, and I must admit I was probably [00:09:00] stressed for your health and the baby’s health, the whole pregnancy, , because, you know, I can sometimes be a half glass full kind of person, sorry, half glass empty, I should say and I worry about things like that. Is the baby going to be healthy, is my wife going to  be safe and, and all of that. , Yeah, I think it was an acculation of all that stress and the baby was so close. So probably not the best idea and I don’t recommend it, but that’s what ended up happening. Yeah. 

[00:09:31]Kelly: [00:09:31] it was one of the funnest memories that I have because the friend that came was a very close friend of both of us and we all got along very well.

[00:09:37] So it was a very funny fun night. Unfortunately what happened was at 6:00 AM the next morning, my waters broke and we were a couple of sore heads hung over heads in the house that morning, whilst I’m saying we’re on! 

[00:09:53] Anthony: [00:09:53] Just  to be clear you weren’t drinking. It was only her and I. 

[00:09:58] Kelly: [00:09:58] No. I was  a [00:10:00] sober observer of a very fun, night and off we went to bed and 6:00 AM I woke up and my waters had broke.

[00:10:07] Now. I also, there was a complication because I had a very heavy  meconi stained waters. And for anyone who doesn’t know, that means that the baby had done a poo inside of me. So you get this green streaking and what it means is that you’re on the clock. So you know that you need to get that baby out within a certain amount of time, which set us on a path for my labor, that I was hoping to avoid.

[00:10:31] So I knew at this point that as soon as I went to the hospital, that I would be not allowed to leave that I would be very closely monitored and I had always wanted a natural birth and to be able to labor at home as long as I could. And so I, then they basically said to me, you need to come in as soon as possible.

[00:10:51]I then roused the troops who were feeling a little worse for the wear but it gave me a really good excuse to focus on something else. Because at this point I [00:11:00] wasn’t in full blown contractions or labor. However, I did have the niggling of the early contractions. So, Bacon and eggs for breakfast as I cooked and we laughed and we drank coffee and we carried on and the three of us all prepared to go off to the hospital, which we did sometime after 10 o’clock that morning, when we arrived at a very large busy central London hospital.

[00:11:21] Uh, and it was quite a different experience. I was not allowed to go into the birth center because of the meconi so we went straight into a room and I began my journey of laboring, but because of the meconi, I was asked to be induced. So that meant I had the oxytocin drip put straight on. I was connected to a drip and a continuous monitor.

[00:11:42] And so things got pretty intense, pretty fast. I’m curious on your memory of that, because to be honest, my memory it’s more than 12 years ago. It’s pretty I guess patchy, I would say. 

[00:11:55] Anthony: [00:11:55] Well, I’ll probably go back a step again and just say that I didn’t think it was a [00:12:00] great idea to have someone else in the room with us.

[00:12:03] And the reason I say that is because almost had this view that it was a very private moment, even though there are obviously other people in the room, but it was a pretty private moment. And I wanted it to be just between Kelly and I. And you know, it was one of those things that in hindsight, it was just perfect to have.

[00:12:25] Cherie there because,   it allowed me a bit of a distraction, you know, your wife or partners in a lot of pain. And going back to what I said earlier, you do feel like the third wheel, you do feel like, what do I do? You know? No one’s telling you what to do. Every time someone comes into the room, they’re asking about your wife, not about you.

[00:12:45] , And, and that’s fair enough. It’s not about me but there’s all this emotion going on as a dad. , and seeing your wife in so much pain and not really knowing what to ask for or you know, what to do. So to have Cherie [00:13:00] there was really good because it added a distraction, but also like simple things. Like, if we wanted something from the local shop, she popped down and got it while I stayed with Kel so I didn’t feel like I was just leaving Kel to her own devices and the opposite I could go outside for a breath of fresh air without feeling like Kel was alone. So, , and with the benefit of hindsight, it was really awesome in that first birth to have someone there as a support person , and so I didn’t feel like I was just You know that invisible person in the room. 

[00:13:37] Kelly: [00:13:37] Absolutely. Because you walk into that room and you don’t leave until the baby’s born. And for us, that was more than 12 hours now for me, whilst I was very much in the thick of labor time doesn’t mean much.

[00:13:50] I mean, it feels like it’s a long time, but yeah. I had no real sense of time or space. Whereas for the, both of you watching and staying there with me, it [00:14:00] would have felt like a really long time to be inside that little hospital room. 

[00:14:04] Anthony: [00:14:04] Well, it was exhausting and there was a concern you know, the nurses and the occasional doctor that came in there was a real concern around Angus’s health  but it’s like football match. You don’t know what the final result’s going to be. So you can’t relax the whole time. It’s a high stress situation, even though maybe you don’t feel stressed all the time, but I can tell you now it is a high stress and, uh, we’ll probably come to it later. But at the end I was, I felt like I’d gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.

[00:14:39] It was tough, even though you did all the physical and the emotional yeah. The emotional really weighed on me at the end of the day.

[00:14:46]Kelly: [00:14:46] Mm. Yeah. So the labor goes on and different women need different things during labor. One of the things for me was I felt this enormous gratitude to Cherie and [00:15:00] I do want to shout out it was amazing that you’ve shared that journey with us. Because you did provide the support to Anthony during that time, and actually you supported each other as well as me, because there were long stretches of time where I was one of those laboring mothers who was like, don’t touch me, just leave me alone, stay away from me most of the time. And occasionally I needed something.

[00:15:21] It was, you know, can you brush my hair or can you rub my back? But for the majority of time, I actually was so much in my own zone. I just didn’t want anyone around me or touch me. So you both providing the safe space for me. Monitoring to make sure I had enough fluid being on-call you needed me, but there was long stretches, which could have otherwise been you having a conversation with yourself and increasing stress levels, as opposed to a bit of distraction.

[00:15:46] And I do remember you making me laugh a lot which I then used in my second birth because I remember how good it felt of They have one of those big lights on a boom arm to look in, at the vagina when the baby is coming out. [00:16:00] And I can distinctly remember being on a birth ball, leaning over the bed, rolling and contraction, labor, looking up and seeing the two of you using it as a microphone and doing some Elvis moves and singing.

[00:16:12] And making me laugh, which gave me a flood of oxytocin and helped the labor come along, which was great. So, amusing yourselves and me was part of that process. And I think that the staff really left the three of us alone as much as they could apart from checking on a nurse. Is that is my memory.

[00:16:29] Anthony: [00:16:29] No, that was probably, and yeah, I think There were times as well, where all I’m not very good at like sometimes when you were being sick and so on. So it was really good for Cherie to be there cause she could support you a bit better than me, and I know that sounds silly, but if I, if I smell vomit, I want to vomit and you don’t want to people vomiting in a birth suite.

[00:16:52] So I just was able to step away, take a deep breath of fresh air and Cherie could just [00:17:00] pat you on the back and tell you what it’s going to be all right. And like those little things, other things probably I remember the most because and it happened in the second birth as well, but a bit differently, but you realize that, Kels body just wants to expel everything before the baby comes and you know, it’s like a poltergeist movie and you just going what the hell am I doing? Like it’s very, it was pretty shocking. 

[00:17:23] Kelly: [00:17:23] That’s one of the things no one ever tells you about birth is that you vomit and there’s poo and vomit, and it’s because your body is getting rid of everything. Getting ready for that. 

[00:17:33] Anthony: [00:17:33] I think for you as well, you had, you were sort of strapped to this contraption. I think it was the medication they were giving you, but you kept thinking you needed to go to the toilet. So you. Waddle out with the uh, what do they call 

[00:17:49] pole thing? 

[00:17:50] And you’d go to the bathroom and nothing would happen anyway, but it’s just because there’s so much pressure from the baby down there that you just kept thinking, Oh, I need to go to the toilet. So [00:18:00] there was constantly this back and forth with that. 

[00:18:02]Kelly: [00:18:02] What I know now is of course that’s very natural and actually many women labor on the toilet, but at the time I was in a very large public hospital and the toilet was down the hall. So I’m stretched. No. So I had an IV drip in, I had continuous monitoring and I’m trying to move around, but But we got through a fairly long labor and because I also did not want to have a medicated birth as much as possible.

[00:18:26]I was induced, but I was holding out and I really wanted to have a natural birth again. I know a lot more now it’s very, very difficult to do that because of the synthetic hormones, the way they bring on the contractions and after a good nine or ten hours of laboring, I got quite stressed and we hit a point where I just wasn’t dilating anymore and the nurses. What the midwives came to me at that point. And they really gave me a pretty hard conversation about if something doesn’t shift, we’re not going to, we need to get your baby out. You [00:19:00] really are. I’m on a time limit now, and you need to consider your options, which at that point is when I decided that it would take some form of medication and they gave me pethidine.

[00:19:13] Now, one of the reasons I didn’t want any form of drugs is because I don’t react particularly well with drugs. And what didn’t you was another funny incident where I was completely off the planet from the  Pethadine, really delirious, hallucinating, telling funny stories, funny for everyone else, but me, but it did kickstart my labor again, because I was able to relax and things moved pretty be fast after that.

[00:19:41] Anthony: [00:19:41] Yeah, I think rightly or wrongly I felt like we were put under a bit of pressure from the hospital staff. And I felt like we lost a bit of power at that time, but, you know, I think you get to a point where you’ve got to trust the people [00:20:00] around you and what they’re saying, but I did feel like, and it was high stress anyway but I felt like that was probably the most negative part.

[00:20:07] I felt like we were put under pressure to do something initially we didn’t want to do. But when someone says to you think about the healthy baby and stuff like this, you know, it puts a lot of doubt into your mind  you sort of have to hand over to them to do what’s right. But I think in hindsight, and this is no criticism of anyone who works in the hospital, but, , they sometimes say things in a way that maybe isn’t very, it doesn’t come across as very sympathetic.

[00:20:40] It was, it was quite pressured. I felt quite pressured by it. Hmm. , and I almost felt like they forced us into something that we didn’t want to do. 

[00:20:53]Kelly: [00:20:53] Yeah and look in the end, be what it may, things moved. And once I recovered [00:21:00] my senses, which took a little while because , the drugs did knock me around a lot then it got into the really, I guess, intense part in the transition to labor and I was then able to get onto all fours and begin birthing the baby. Now, when the head came out, uh, he was quite blue, quite unresponsive. And so again, we hit another situation where they put a lot of pressure on us. Now, again, I know a lot more now than I did 12 years ago, but at the time I couldn’t really see, we didn’t really know what was going on, but they I remember the midwife coming up and saying to me, you need to get this baby out, give it all you’ve got in the next contraction and push the baby out. And so I do remember bearing down and giving an all mighty push to which he came, flying out tearing lots of bits and pieces on the way out. But [00:22:00] he came out and he was quite unresponsive however, I very quickly turned around and wanted him brought to my chest. And you also are, you said, wait, wait, wait, don’t cut the cord because we really wanted him to have an extended period of time to get the cord blood, to which they actually declined that and said, no. No, we really need to take him and resuscitate now again, there’s very new research about the resuscitation and they do suggest you keeping the cord attached.

[00:22:26] However, at the time the decision was made and the cord was cut and he was taken away to resuscitate. And there was, uh, a brief and terrifying period of time, which I actually don’t know how long it was. You may remember more before we could hear the noises of a newborn. Yeah. I suppose for all the dads out there, , when you were, when the baby just sort of started to come out, the midwife asked me, do you want to come and have a look like I was meant to be [00:23:00] excited?

[00:23:01] And I remember thinking, no, not really. I don’t want to have a look. , and I sorta did have a look in that was very, , I know if people think that dads ought to just be like, this is the happiest moment of my life. And it’s just like so weird and surreal even that’s, you know, so beautiful and, and, and, you know, the new life coming, uh, coming out, but it was just like, no, I don’t, I don’t cope well with this.

[00:23:36] And that’s why sometimes, you know, Some dads are probably cope better than I would. And some would probably cope worse than I would. You know, you, you hear the old, , the old saying that dads used to faint in the, in the birthing room. , uh, well, I wasn’t that bad, but I certainly wasn’t as excited as maybe people thought I should be.

[00:23:57] , so that was kind of interesting. [00:24:00] , but yeah, so when the baby came out and you just seem blues, he was like a Smurf and, , , like caught him and just took him away, but that didn’t sort of say anything to us for, for a little while. So I, that was a very high stress moment. Like I think if I had a stress mater on it would have been whatever the maxim is, it was really high stress.

[00:24:26] , so yeah, it did acculate to a, to a pretty, pretty high peak of emotion. And then. They wrap them up and bring them back. And they called me over, , weirdly to show me how to put a nappy on this, this new baby. And, , that’s really relevant at that. Yeah, it was cool. It was kind of really thinking back it was sort of out of place, but, and they weighed him.

[00:24:59] , [00:25:00] so on the, on these LODs I’ll butcher scales, cause it was quite an old hospital. That’s no longer there, , as a hospital, but, , but yeah, that was kind of interesting. And then we had this new baby and, , it was, yeah, it’s just one of those moments where I don’t know. I can’t say I was. I can’t say I was stoked.

[00:25:24] I can’t say I was totally happy. I was just like relieved that he was breathing and that you were, you were okay as well. There’s uh, so then he comes onto my chest for a bit of breastfeeding and there’s one more funny anecdote, which is when they go to cleanup downstairs. I don’t remember the placenta being born.

[00:25:47] No, no, I don’t remember. With him when they were doing whatever they did. , so I, I actually don’t know, but I do remember, , and I’m probably jping [00:26:00] ahead cause I know you’ve got some stories in between, but I do remember, but this lady like a seamstress in between your legs sewing you up all. I was talking to my dad in Australia and I’m looking across watching my wife getting, getting sewn up.

[00:26:17] , that was. That was one of those moments that was sort of so bizarre you couldn’t couldn’t read about it sort of thing. So it was, it was pretty funny. And I can’t remember if I even told my dad at the time, but I still have a vivid memory of that in my head. , and, and one thing about the UK as well, I don’t, I don’t know if they still do it, but they bring in toast and tea after you’ve had a baby.

[00:26:45] , which I think is really nice, but bizarre at the same time. And I think he did, they, uh, I don’t think they did with Jack. No, but, , I think he had something to [00:27:00] eat and then you spewed it up again. , so it was like, but I thought it was, it was kind of one of those kooky things that seems out of place, but it was actually quite a nice touch.

[00:27:11] Yeah. So. Yeah, amazing feelings of, of the birth and, and the first breastfeed. And then we get wrapped up back to the breastfeed because your boob, it was about four times the size of his head, and we do have a photo. , and it’s, you just can’t pull him out. This little mouth is gonna. You know, get anything out of that, cause it’s just massive and swollen.

[00:27:43] And , and as we find out later, he did have a lot of problems with that, but, uh, it was, it was, you know, one of those things that you think it’s all going to be easy and it. Does it all go to plan? No, no, that’s right. And they, you know, they say put the [00:28:00] nipple to the back of the mouth and you think all the nipples, the size of a dinner plate now and his head, the size of my fist.

[00:28:05] So there’s something misaligned here, but, , yeah, so, and every everyone’s different because Jack was a different story altogether, but might be that comes with experience. But, , I think if you get a hundred people in a room and ask them about their birth story, it’s a hundred different stories. So you can read all the generic stuff you want, which is a great base, but it’s not, it’s not going to be how yours turns out.

[00:28:31] So just always remember that yours is going to be a totally unique experience and, and. I can’t, I can’t take, because I’m generally a stressed person. Anyway. I can’t take the stress out of these things, but I wish I could enjoy more. And hopefully you can too. , so before we go onto the second birth, cause I think it’s a good comparison.

[00:28:53] Uh, just when you left the hospital that night. So by the time I got back to my room was he was born about 10 o’clock at night. [00:29:00] We got back. It was after midnight. Yeah. I, uh, I sent you and Sherry home to get some rest. And then what happened? Well, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you a couple of stories and coming back to the hospital as well.

[00:29:15] , but because we lived in London, we didn’t have a car and, uh, we went that far from the hospital. We were actually, I don’t know, 20 minutes on a bus, so we just decided to catch a bus home and it wasn’t a Saturday night, Saturday night. So there were. People on the bus, you know, just, I don’t know what they were on, whether it be alcohol or other, , Panadol or something.

[00:29:47] I don’t know. But there were people on the bus just looking dreadful. , so you’ve just gone through this whole experience and, you know, newborn babies, so perfect. Blah, blah, blah, blah, [00:30:00] blah. And you get on a bus. That’s like a horror show and. Oh, I was exhausted and I was sort of a bit at the end of my tether.

[00:30:10] , and yeah, we caught the bus home, so that was a bit surreal. And then I just collapsed on the bed. I was just, I, I just think we walked in the door and Sherry was sleeping downstairs. I was upstairs. I just basically walked in the door, said, see, in the morning, walk straight, upstairs and just crashed on the bed.

[00:30:29] And, uh, I don’t think I got up till. I really, I just slept, I didn’t get up till about nine o’clock the next day. I think it was, you’re probably wondering where the hell I was, but I was just so exhausted. , which is kind of weird because you know, you, you went through it all, but yeah, I was, I was spent, it’s not an uncommon thing to have that real physical, emotional, and just exhaustion after the [00:31:00] process, but not something that gets talked about very much.

[00:31:03] Well, I came back the next day I caught the bus and I had the capsule that could go in, in a car. So we teased, kills dead for a long time that I was just going to catch a bus home with you. And he was getting so worked up about it. , yeah, he kept offering us the money for the black cab and say, it’s fine.

[00:31:24] The bus drives fine. Don’t worry about it. But, , yeah, I think people thought I was a bit weird cause I was on the bus with a capture with no baby in it. , but I caught the bus and with the plan to catch a cab home. And, , so I went there and , you know, it was great to see Carol and I remember taking a photo that day was just such a stunning day.

[00:31:48] It was a blue sky. It was beautiful. And I remember taking a photo as I was walking into the hospital, just took, took photo of the sky and the, and the buildings. And, you know, just as one of those [00:32:00] memories to say, Oh man, what a, what a perfect day this is. And, , you stuck Angus in my arms and I was holding him.

[00:32:09] And I think people expect you to love your baby straight away. And they expect you to just outpour, you know, this gushing newness of, of love. And, and I was just like, what the hell is? In some ways I was having these conversations, how come, you know, I can’t believe I’m a dad and, and all of that sort of stuff.

[00:32:34] And, and, , it was. I remember thinking I should, they should probably do that be the state of my life, but it wasn’t, it was just such a hodgepodge of emotions that, , there’s a lot of confusion. There’s a lot of confusion and it took me a long time to sort of, you know, and w we’ll probably talk about this some other [00:33:00] time, but it took me a long time to feel like I was a dad and feel like I was, , You know, even a good dad.

[00:33:09] So I th I feel like I was just surviving for the first few weeks and months, I suppose. And, uh, I don’t know if we’ll touch on it in this conversation, but, you know, Angus had a lot of health problems, so it was, it was tough. Yeah. And I think both of us felt like we were surviving. But also partly in our own little bubble of survival with this creature between us, that needed us really a really emotional and tough time that we’ve managed to get through.

[00:33:41] Yeah. But, you know, I wouldn’t change it at the same time. It’s not like, you know, it’s not like anything really bad happened, but it seemed, it seemed bad at the time. It seemed, , like put a lot of pressure on us.

[00:34:00] [00:34:00] So the second birth, we went back pretty quickly for, uh, and the second birth. And I think that was partly me just saying, well, if we don’t do it now, we may never do it. Yeah. We weren’t spring chickens, I suppose. So. Okay. So no point waiting and, uh, pretty straightforward pregnancy again. We had a toddler and pregnant, we had by this stage move to home to Australia.

[00:34:32] So it was really different context, very different pregnancy and birth, but in a country hospital and very different labor because my same thing, my waters broke. First thing in the morning, about eight o’clock in the morning. Uh, we organized for my m to come and pick up. Anger so that we could spend the day together.

[00:34:54] And this time I was really determined that I wanted to stay at home as long as possible and had no [00:35:00] signs of meconi. And so this is one of my favorite things. Do you remember what we did that day? Yeah, we just watched ’em back to back. Billy Connolly. DVDs DVDs in those days, kids, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, but I don’t think it was very anxious.

[00:35:20] , but we just, yeah, we watched anything that was funny. And we had a really nice house. Like we were on a, an ICA block and it was just nice and it was very different. , it was very different to the first, the first birth, , you know, I think two things. One is both of us knew a little bit more what to expect and therefore how to manage it.

[00:35:45] But because there wasn’t that pressure of immediacy of time, we felt we had time and space to be together. We closed the curtains, it was nice and dark. We watched the comedian and we laughed and laughed and laughed. And I sat on a birth ball for the whole time again, which I did [00:36:00] with my first labor. But this time, no monitoring, no Ivy, plenty of ability to move around and, uh, The labor intensified throughout the day we went through the whole day.

[00:36:11] And at some point I think we got to the point where I said, I think we’ve got to go to the hospital, which was about a 20 minute drive away. And if you have had a contraction in the car, it’s not, it’s not pleasant. So you’ve got to find that window. Uh, so we, you drove me to the hospital and I remember walking up the stairs.

[00:36:30] I don’t know why a maternity hospital has stairs. Maybe that’s part of the process of bringing the baby down stairs to get to the floor. Because those days in the UK to what was an old hospital, but made it like, Oh, I suppose I both are both, but, , yeah, it was just very different and it was empty. The hospital was empty, which probably comes as no surprise.

[00:36:55] Yeah, I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure the night that Angus was born in London, there were [00:37:00] 37 babies born on the ward that night in that one ward. Whereas that night we were the only laboring family that arrived at this country hospital. And it was a totally different experience. So I remember walking up to the nurses station and saying, you know, hi, I’m in labor.

[00:37:18] And then doing the usual thing, like. Well, why do you think you need to be here and how long a part or your contractions and started to ask me questions. And I had a contraction right at that second, and I can remember, like, I just grabbed the edge of the nursing station and I was hanging it off it and just roaring out this country.

[00:37:37] Right. Then I think we’ll get you up on the bed. And we walked in. And I sat on the bed and you took a photo of me now, or before that you said, got to go to the toilet and Pew. I remember I ran through the birthing suite and straightaway always. To the toilet vomiting. And it turns out I was actually in transition at this [00:38:00] point, which I didn’t realize.

[00:38:01] And the nurse sort of, , or midwife said to you at the time, go over there and support your wife. And he went, ah, no, she doesn’t want me. And I was going, no, leave me alone. Don’t touch me as I’m emptying everything into the toilet. Well, it’s another, it’s another thing where you do feel like the spare wheel, but you also know your own limits.

[00:38:21] And I knew if kill was going to spew. I just couldn’t handle it. So, and she knew that too. So she was happy to do it by herself, but you’ve got those people around you that you don’t know. You’ve only met five seconds ago, so basically telling you what to do and it’s, it can be unsettling. Yes. Because although I had, , midwifery led care with both of my children, they were in systems where I actually didn’t know any of the midwives.

[00:38:49] So. On both situations. When I turned up on the day to give birth, I’d never met anyone in the room. , which again, I don’t recommend, uh, there’s lots of reasons why it’s great to build a [00:39:00] strong, deep relationship with your birthing team. I didn’t have that. Uh, but I seem to remember you over hearing you say, if I go over there, I’m probably going to vomit on the back of her head and then it’ll be a bigger mess and she kind of had a half giggle and I’m going, no, it’s fine.

[00:39:13] I’m okay. And, and yeah, to take a step back on what I said that. The women there that night work, which is fantastic and awesome and funny, but she was obviously thinking she was doing the right thing by you by sending me in, but we both knew better and we probably were a bit more comfortable this time around.

[00:39:32] Yeah. So I, uh, do the usual and I emptied out, uh, climbed up on the bed. You took a photo and. The time said something like 6:05 PM. Uh, I climbed up on the bed and. I was in the lull between transition and birth. At that point, it was all reasonably calm. And then things kicked up a gear and I was on my hands and knees roaring that baby out again, no drugs, [00:40:00] no, didn’t even have time.

[00:40:02] To be honest, I don’t even think their midwives had any idea how close I was until I got up on that bed. And they were like, well, the babies come. So, , and there is another funny anecdote about, uh, the pushing the baby out. Which I’d love you to tell me I’ve got a sense of this a bit, but, it’s okay. I can put an explicit on the recording.

[00:40:25] , yeah, so Kel was on all fours and, and so I’m sort of up with kill. , I’ll put a shoulder level and she’s, uh, pushing and taking the instructions from the midwife. Uh, he’s saying push and okay. Let’s relax. And, and okay. And then the next one co , sorry, the midwife says, okay, we’ve got to really push this next one.

[00:40:50] And, , you did that and all this water. So sh her, yeah, the lady at damn the end of the bed, all this water just [00:41:00] sprayed out of you on tour. And it was like a, a comedy movie and there were bits of water just. She had quite a large cleavage and that was sort of running down into a cleavage and she just looked and went, Oh fuck.

[00:41:21] And that just cracked me up. I’ll have to listen to Billy Conley all day. I thought that is gold and she was very good about it. And look now I wanted one. Uh, title strangers, bodily fluids over, over them. Let’s face it, but she was, she was just awesome. And, , you know, there was no dramas with that, but it was a very funny moment that, uh, certainly broke the ice for me.

[00:41:46] And, uh, shortly after that, uh, our baby came out, , and just very calm, very much just up on the chest. It was a different, it was a total different level of [00:42:00] stress. It was, I don’t know if it’s because of the hospital of where we are at Armadale and new South Wales, but it was just so relaxed in the hospital.

[00:42:11] There was no, there was no other people, as Carol said, the, the midwives did what they needed to do and then left us alone and it was just peaceful and quiet. And he was, he came out so naturally, you know, there were no complications. So it was like, I wasn’t. At the height of the stress I was with the first one and, you know, various things come with that, like, because I’d been through it with Angus, but, , it was certainly, I just remember it being a really nice experience and probably what, what you’d almost call a perfect birth.

[00:42:50] Yeah, it was, it was enough experience. And I think my, my body was in a much better place afterwards because I hadn’t had the interventions. Uh, I hadn’t had [00:43:00] as much. I don’t even think I had any tearing, honestly can’t even remember, but I don’t think I did. , and, and just a very natural process of, of actually just.

[00:43:10] You know, injecting the baby, according to, to the natural instinct. So, and we had a lot of time to be left alone afterwards just to be with our baby and get the first feed and, and spend time. So, yeah. And it was, and it was earlier in the night too. So it was like, we weren’t exhausted. I could stay longer.

[00:43:30] And then, , yeah, and then I. Then I left pretty much and look with my first birth, you know, they discharged me. Like, I mean, we burst it up sometime after 10:00 PM. , I was just charged by nine or 10 o’clock the next morning, uh, with the first baby that unfortunately was actually in quite unwell. And if I had of known what I know now, I wouldn’t have let them discharge me with a sick baby, but I didn’t know that at the time.

[00:43:57] Whereas with him, they were saying to me, we’ll stay [00:44:00] two or three days. And I was like, No I’m going home and they’re like, no, you can’t go home. I said, just watch me. You know, like I’ve, I’ve been here before. I want to go home to my own home. I’m I’m here. It was funny. And, and certainly not criticism of people, but you realize hospitals are under stress, especially a big one in London.

[00:44:16] They need beds. , so it’s not that they’re not caring. It’s, they’ve got there’s pressures there to, to free up beds. so if your baby, uh, P’s normal, You know, then you’re out of there. , whereas for us, I don’t think any of the rooms were full in Armadale, so it was like, Oh no, stay for a few days. That’s all right.

[00:44:38] And we’re like, nah, we got on higher. We want to be home. , and this in our minds, there’s no reason for us to stay. , so yeah, but it was, it was, it was a really lovely experience and, , and totally different. So. I think we’ve [00:45:00] covered a fair bit. I’d like to talk at another time about our parenting journey with, uh, I guess a bit of change of roles, , in the future.

[00:45:09] If you’re open to doing that with me about your, the times when you were, , the primary caregiver of the children and I was working, but to wrap up today, I’d really just love to hear any, I guess, final thoughts you have about, uh, you know, The feelings of being a dad or the birth process, which is really what, you know, this transition that we go through.

[00:45:34] Doesn’t just happen to women. It happens to men too. We just don’t talk about it a lot. And that’s one of the things I wanted to bring up today, I guess. Well, I think for, for men, you do, and I sit at a bit early, you do feel like, , you know, you’re the third wheel and maybe not as, , Uh, involved as, as, as, as obviously the mother.

[00:46:00] [00:46:00] So you can feel a bit, , uh, I don’t know what the term is, but you do feel a bit left out. And I, I know when after Angus was born, because he was such a demanding baby, there was, there was a level of resentment there as well, because all of a sudden your wife or your partner is, is almost. Almost a hundred percent committed to this baby and selfishly you don’t get any time.

[00:46:30] , so I don’t think it’s looking back. I don’t think that’s abnormal. I don’t think that’s, that’s something that, , that people don’t go through. But, , yeah, it is a mix of emotions because she can feel like, well, why don’t I love this baby? But. You sort of, , uh, fighting those, those things as well. A bit of resentment, you know, and I know, I know people [00:47:00] probably won’t like that because they like things to be perfect.

[00:47:03] And, and how could you not love your baby and all of that? And it’s not that you don’t love your baby, but there is a level of resentment at times because everything that you’re used to and is, is taken away, , And yeah, it is, it is hard to say in hindsight because I wouldn’t change anything, but, , I suppose I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was for the, for the first baby.

[00:47:30] I think I was better equipped the second baby. , and, and what added to that as well? With the second baby, he was an easy baby. He was a lot happier. , he was funny. Whereas Angus had a lot of, , a lot of health problems and, and we have to get through that. And, and, , in hindsight, you know, it’s easy for me to say, I should have been more sympathetic, but I’m just being [00:48:00] truthful.

[00:48:00] There was, there was a lot of, uh, there was a lot of times where I was doubting myself as a father and, and yeah. Having some resentment. And our society doesn’t have a lot of good role modeling or conversations about that. Anyway, it’s not like anyone you ever knew had had that honest conversation about the mixed feelings.

[00:48:19] It’s all slapping on the back and let’s have a beer and congratulations, especially in our society. Yeah. And I think, you know, for me, without going too far into it, but, you know, I didn’t have a great relationship with my father. So it probably did muddy the waters a bit for me as well. And I know I didn’t have that person to speak to.

[00:48:39] , I only in the past while my father has passed away now, but I’m in the sort of four years, , before he died, did we sort of, , retrieve some of our relationships? So I didn’t, I didn’t have that good role model that I could [00:49:00] even just talk to about it. , But yeah, our relationship changed my father and my relationship changed for the better after my boys were born.

[00:49:10] Yeah. It was a great healing moment for the two of you to perhaps bring those boys into his life. Yeah. But I still, even though I had a great last few years with him, I didn’t feel like I wasn’t going to go to him for fatherly advice because I know what I’d been through. So, you know what I mean? So I couldn’t have those conversations with him.

[00:49:28] And that is another conversation, you know, how to learn to be a father when you haven’t been fathered particularly well, yourself, it’s pretty complicated. Yeah. But, , yeah, it was, it was a journey and I wouldn’t change anything, but, , yeah, don’t, don’t think it’s going to be, you know, as I write about in the books, it’s, it’s all an individual.

[00:49:52] And, you know, for me, it’s really amazing that even despite all these feelings you went on in the years, that followed to [00:50:00] look after the boys, through their toddler, years into school, I wanted it to, because I wanted a job where I could stay in my pajamas all day. Well, you were still forced to go out of the house and take them to the park.

[00:50:15] It’s true. But, uh, you know, that’s a big call. It was a bit cool. And look, I loved, and, you know, I grew into that and I love spending time with them. And, , I think any father that gets a chance to take some time off or reduce their work hours, say to four days a week or something, and spend that time with their kids before they go to school, , then do it.

[00:50:44] If you can afford it financially. , Or if you just go stuff, I’m going to do it anyway, do it because they grow up too fast and you know what, when you’re in it, you don’t believe it. And the Tony, when this has [00:51:00] gone to high school this year, that I think, wow. Yeah, I could have missed all of those years.

[00:51:05] Yeah. And all those years, when your boys would be offered adventures, driving up, going in the Bush, hiking, going to the park, going to the beach and playing and just enjoying play together. And you fathering them through those years was just it’s you can’t get it back. No, you can’t get it back. And, and I suppose been with my background with my father, I was always determined to do it differently.

[00:51:30] , yeah. So, well, thank you for sharing. This conversation with me. I really appreciate it. And I know that our listeners will really appreciate your honesty and I hope we can have another conversation. Soon. If there’s free beer I’m here. I can organize that.

[00:51:56] Thanks for joining us for today’s conversation. If you want to hear more like this, [00:52:00] don’t forget to hit subscribe. So you don’t miss an episode. If you’d like to know more about anything we talked about or you heard on the podcast today, check out our website, http://www.birthofamother.com.edu. You can find us on Instagram @matrecsence.podcast.

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[00:52:41] We hope you will tune in next time.

Kelly and Bree


kelly@birthofamother.com.au
brianna@birthofamother.com.au

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