A Dad's Perspective: Meeting Oliver
Leading into Oliver being born, I didn’t really know what to expect. I think I was so caught up in looking ahead that I forgot to experience what was happening in the now.
On April 2nd at 12 am Beth’s water broke six weeks early - we sort of just stood there in shock looking at each other filled with adrenaline on what was about to come. I thought I was about to become a dad there and then!
As we got up to the hospital, we had all the check-ups and procedures and found that Oliver was breech. After a few trips home and back, getting all the forgotten items, we settled Beth in for the night waiting for what was to come.
The next morning, I got the call from Beth. “Babe, it’s going to happen,” she said.
Not long after getting back to the hospital, Beth started to have some really strong contractions causing her to be in so much pain. If there is only one thing you need to know about Beth, it’s that she never complains. Ever. She puts her head down and works hard at whatever she does.
So, to see my incredibly strong wife reeling in pain? Well, it was really something I was not used to at all.
That was the first moment my anxiety started to creep in - seeing my wife in pain and not being able to protect or help her as her husband and a father-to-be at any moment. That was a real punch in the face of reality.
The doctors and midwives all came in, did the check, and I remember him saying “Oh yep, there’s a bum - we need to go.”
It was like a scene from a movie - people coming from everywhere prepping for the emergency c-section. And as we made our way down to theatre, that is when the anxiety crept up closer again.
You see, one of the things I was never told heading into the birth was that when contractions happen, it is normal to lose a baby’s heartbeat on the monitor. So standing there, watching this happen over and over again was heart-wrenching. My mind filled with the worst. “What if I lost my little boy?” “What if I lose my wife?”
We made our way into surgery, and I am thankful and grateful every moment of every day to say it all went well.
There are no words to explain the relief and peace I felt as I saw him and heard his first cry. I felt well again - ready to start this journey.
We got him cleaned up and whisked up to the ward where he would go on to stay in the most incredible care for two weeks.
We weren’t to stay there with him, though. Two days post the birth and Beth was deemed ready to come home. Oliver was born in the first super strict period of COVID in April 2020, so they were clearing beds a lot quicker than usual.
Heading home without our baby was beyond hard, but we had to remind ourselves he was in great care.
We weren’t to be home long, though. That night after Beth coming home, she fainted in the bathroom early in the morning – and this was the moment my anxiety really kicked into gear. I called the ambulance and got Beth up to the hospital, where she was whisked away into emergency care. It was not until she had her tests that I was finally allowed in to see her.
I’ll never forget that moment I saw her - pale and scared.
“They think I may have a clot, babe. I could die.”
My heart sank - I felt immediately sick and weak. We had just welcomed the most incredible blessing into the world, and I was faced with losing my wife.
Incredibly after tests and waiting - everything came back okay, although she was required to stay so they could monitor her overnight.
I remember hopping in the car and just crying - every emotion I had felt over the last two days hit me at once. I had never felt so broken and weak as a husband and dad.
The next two weeks felt like a month - not being able to get out of bed - constantly crying while not being able to eat with constant anxiety attacks.
During this time Beth was trying to find her feet as a mum, heading up to the hospital all day every day to be with our boy.
My anxiety was that bad I couldn’t stay at the hospital for more than an hour each day before getting too heightened to be there. The hardest part of this period was due to COVID restrictions; we didn’t get to see Oliver together until the day we brought him home.
All I can say is bringing him home after those two weeks in hospital together was an incredible experience.
Thanks to my incredible councillor, wife, friends and family, I was able to pull myself out of my down and learn to serve my family.
Eight months later our boy is strong and healthy, and looking back now I couldn’t be more thankful for that time - it taught me so much and prepared me for what is to come.
For new dads who struggle with anxiety, all I can say is it will be okay.
It may feel as though everything around you is falling apart with uncertainty and changes, but looking down at your child can mend any worry.
Get your head ready - you’ll need it.