Under the birth stories section of this site I’ve included our birth stories for our girls, Tessa (https://bethedaddy.blog/2019/02/17/where-it-all-began-a-birth-story-from-a-dads-perspectiveno-1-tessa/) and Tilly (https://bethedaddy.blog/2019/02/28/where-it-all-began-no-2-our-little-tilly/). This now completes the set, with the birth story of our most recent arrival, Toby, 10 months ago.
The time before the birth – last days as a four …
Late Spring 2018 and we, our little family of four, were eagerly awaiting the arrival of our third child – a new brother or sister for our girls, Tessa and Tilly.
Karen’s pregnancy had passed by reasonably well, although as the due date approached, she became a little fed up, as any expectant mother will do. The due date was 21 May, which fell right in the middle of a busy month for us, with birthdays for my Mum (Grandma Kate), Karen, Cousin George, Tessa (only a few days after the due date) and Aunty Carly. We were just hoping the baby didn’t come on Tessa’s actual birthday. As it was, and as with both the girls, this baby was late – 8 days in fact. This meant Tessa turned six without having to have her celebrations interrupted by a new sibling arrival:
The build up to the birth was a little more fun this time round. We were a little more relaxed, particularly more so than with our first birth, and the girls were good ages to talk things through. Tessa in particular, aged 6, understood what was going on and Tilly had turned 3 in January, and was a little older than Tessa had been when Tilly came along. Initially Tilly was adamant she wanted a little sister and Tessa was determined to have a brother – cue arguments between the two and potential disaster zone for the one who guessed it wrong (we didn’t find out the sex as with the first two). After a while and when I pointed out that if it was a girl I would be hideously outnumbered, destined for a theoretical life of princesses and pink (though that would never be the case as Tessa is more of a tom boy), Tilly (such a sweet natured and kind little girl) changed her mind and also wanted a brother, for another boy for Daddy. We also discussed names with them both and they decided on Mrs Bublé if it was a girl, or Tornado for a boy. Safe to say, they didn’t make the official shortlist, but that’s what the bump became known as intermittently in the weeks leading up to the birth. All this chat played out to the soundtrack of the Greatest Showman, which the girls had watched at the Cinema and absolutely loved.
A month or so before the birth we’d had a lovely trip down to London to see some close friends – a kind of last hurrah for Karen before the birth – and something for the girls to look forward to and get excited about. We had a great day out at the Horniman Museum and the butterfly garden there. The butterflies loved the bump. The sentimental part of me says that was because they knew there was a little child in there and they loved to sit and talk with it. The realist, however, merely thinks it was a decent shelf to plonk themselves on. Tilly was desperate to have one land on her arm and finally made it and was over the moon for some cuteness overload – as seen from the photos below.
Now as May hit, we were nearing the due date and I was becoming concerned. Not because of the potential clash with Tessa’s birthday, or because of the impending birth, not even because of having to get my work up to speed and in decent shape for me being off on paternity leave – I had a Rugby Cup Final to win with my Club (the magnificent Racing Club de Burnage) 2nd team – as Captain – and the final was on Karen’s birthday weekend. This was not good – a highly hormonal wife who had been pushing for my retirement for a few years now and my chance to follow up a cup win the previous season in my last 1st team game, with a similar victory for our second team! I managed to smooth the road (a compromise was reached and I agreed to go with Karen to her friend’s birthday party rather than out with the lads after the game), and played and we had a remarkable win in a game where I also got Man of the Match! The baby didn’t come early either. Great result all round!
The important rugby stuff out of the way and the early birthdays in May too, we were now almost ready for the arrival. We passed the due date and Tessa had had her birthday party and we were now counting down the days and staying reasonably close to home. Thankfully the weather was pretty good that May. On the Sunday before the birth, we took a trip to Karen’s Grandma’s farm and had a lovely time, the four of us – our last family adventure before we became five. Tilly danced with the lambs and Tessa was chased by Geese and collected a load of eggs – everything was great and we seemed ready. We had hoped a bit of fresh air and walking around might help bring on the labour as the last thing we wanted was for Karen to be induced. Alas, it wasn’t to be, but we had a lovely day out altogether.
When four became five!
I had taken the Monday off work as Karen was due to have a sweep to try and bring on the labour. We’d had a bit of time at her Mum and Dad’s with the girls and Karen had begun to have a few twinges. We did the usual bedtime routine with the girls and Karen’s Mum (Grandma Anne) was on standby in case anything happened in the night. Then things seemed to pick up pace a little. Contractions began and we had the tens machine out and the birthing ball and in the early morning around 2am, Grandma Anne arrived having received ‘the call’. We had spoken to triage and Karen had taken some paracetamol, but then bizarrely, everything stopped – it was some kind of hideously unfunny false alarm. Grandma Anne took up camp in the spare room and, in a scene of utter anti-climax, we went back to bed. At least I was able to get a bit more decent sleep in, so I couldn’t complain too much!
The next day, Karen’s Mum went off to work and we muddled through trying to pass the time and wait and things began to slowly happen. The contractions picked up, the birthing ball was bounced upon, and I used my best Daddy day-care skills to entertain and distract the kids (as well as distracting myself!). As things escalated, our friend Danielle came and took the girls off before Grandma Anne finished in work and we headed to Stepping Hill Hospital in the early afternoon.
Once there, Karen carried on like a true professional birth-giver. She was hardcore again, gas and air only and the birthing pool. I resumed the tennis ball in the back which I had deployed well with Tessa’s birth and we had the Greatest Showman soundtrack playing in the background to keep matters moving. The soundtrack is actually quite apt for a birth:
- The Greatest Show – well it certainly is …
- Tightrope – well that’s what you’re walking as a birth partner – anything said out of turn could fuel a primeval rage from which there is no return.
- A Million Dreams – the main one being will I ever be able to have proper dreams again given the sleep deprivation that is about to follow once this birth has happened?!
- The Other Side – No thanks, I’ll stay where I am up top with Karen and leave the midwives to do their bit down below, thanks very much.
- Rewrite the Stars – Unless you’re Mystic Meg, I’d suggest there’s no time to discuss horoscopes at the birth.
- Never Enough – Just accept it, nothing you can say as a Dad at the birth can ever compensate for the marathon effort put in by these amazing mothers.
- Come Alive – that’s the reason we’re all here – now get a move on!
- This Is Me – let’s not make a song and dance about it – just show yourself so we can all get safely home.
- From Now On – happiness with our complete family.
The birth dragged on and Karen was shattered and my main concern was trying to get her through it safely. She was doing amazingly well, concentrating on her breathing, using the gas and air in the birthing pool and my job was to continue to encourage her and gee her on as she tired. We’re a good team and that showed again during the birth. We finally made it over the line at 6:51pm, when our baby was born. When the mid-wives held the baby up and we saw he was a little boy, we were completely over the moon and in love with him. A tear or two did cross my eye, mainly out of relief that everything was ok. I cut the chord and we had that brief time together just taking it in. Here he was – our little boy – Toby Michael James Scholes. Toby was our boy’s name right from day dot and both the girls would have been a Toby had they been born with a winky! His middle names are taken from my older brother Michael, who died when he was just 22, when I was 19. I had always wanted to use his name as a middle name if we had a son and this was our chance to do so. And here he is – our little whopper, born at 9lbs 3ozs:
Toby also followed suit by looking fairly like his sisters at birth – although he was a little blonder than they were on the day he was born. Here’s a shot showing the three of them on the day they were each born – three peas from the same pod indeed!
After the birth, we had a minor issue as the placenta didn’t follow as planned. Karen had to have an epidural so they could deliver the placenta and she thought it was amazing! She was gutted she hadn’t known this prior to all three births as she would have opted for it each time! Ah well, the woman is incredible and I am so proud of her for delivering each of our three babies safely. It turns out the placenta finally came away anyway, but this meant I had some time with Toby on my own, which is always a special time. Karen then went off to a ward with three other beds and the other husbands were all in attendance, two of whom had nodded off already! I stayed for a while until she was settled, but we were both agreed I would be better off getting some sleep and being at least some use the next day, so I headed home. It transpired that one of the husband’s stayed the whole night, snored loudly for most of it (whilst his wife struggled with their newborn) and even face-timed family abroad at about 4am! Unbelievable!
The next day gave us that special opportunity of bringing the girls in to meet their baby brother. They had coloured in a sign welcoming him and Grandma Anne and Grandad brought them in to see Toby. Forgive the number of photos below, but they’re too good not to include and will give us chance to look back at a truly special time when our family became complete.
Later that day, we were able to head home and begin getting settled into our new life as a family of five. These were happy, happy times – Toby meeting friends and family, watching the girls fall in love with their little brother (see photo of Tilly with Toby below), and spending time together (with some decent weather too!). Truly special and to be treasured forever. Karen and I are both agreed that our family is now complete and we have no plans for any more. We feel so lucky to be in the position we are and it’s our aim to continue working as a team to bring up our children as best we can, in a loving and happy environment. If we can do that, we’re doing alright. Having Toby has also given me the chance to take Shared Parental Leave, for which I will always be grateful, as I am having an amazing time and intend to make the most of the rest of my time off. So to finish off – a lovely photo of Tilly with Toby and one of the five of us on the day we came home:
Thanks again for reading – no more birth stories now – but watch out for more bits and pieces whilst I’m on my leave!
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