I've said it a few times, but I've been blown away by the response so far from people about TheRegularDad.ie. It's been nothing but positive. On this, a fellow New Dad, Phil reached out.
He's been reading the blog and following the journey I'm sharing and was inspired to share his own story. Having more Dads talking about pregnancy, their own experiences, their role during it and emotions is one of the main reasons for starting this blog/website.
So, in his own words. Here's Phil's story, Another Regular Dad!
Where to begin? I suppose the day we found out we were having a new addition to our family. Would I say I was shocked? 100% I was. I can 100% vouch for the Dealz pregnancy tests. I suppose my mind was racing with lots of thoughts. I never thought a pandemic would have such an impact on our journey, particularly as a new dad.
When we first met the GP to confirm the pregnancy and to get all our ducks in a row, I thought this was the first of many visits for both my partner and I. We managed to get a private consultant, who we would highly recommend. Everything was going well until Leo (Varadkar) made that announcement regarding restrictions, which changed the course of our journey.
The 12-week scan, I remember sitting in the car park in Tesco's waiting for a phone call and a recorded video to see/hear the good news. I remember looking around and seeing other fathers in cars doing the same thing. To hear my baby's heart beat for the first time amazing but also a surreal moment as I sat in the car knowing that I was not there to share the moment with my partner in the room.
A few things will always stay in my mind from those visits to the consultant; the line of cars of new parents waiting for their partners, the videos and the feeling of not being able to support your partner when they most need you.
My mental health did suffer. I am grateful my partner recognised I struggled mentally and gave me the support I needed. For new dads, it is ok to struggle with your mental health just make sure you shar it. We are all in this together.
The due date was always around the corner and it was nice to share moments with my partner like feeling the baby's bump, baby's kicks, buying clothes, buying the travel system, standing in line in Aldi's for baby items (only man in the line), etc. It makes you excited and gives the feeling that everything is getting closer.
The travel system was one of the hardest decisions we have had to make. It took nearly 2 months to find the right one. It's a long journey dads, so be prepared. The one bit of advice, is make sure your partner lifts the travel system no matter how much the staff say no.
Due date (can be a few days over) or as I like to call it "game day(s)", it seems like a bit of a blur even though it was only a couple of days ago. Her waters broke late in the evening which I mistook for a call to kill a spider, which I don't kill as I am scared of them. I went up and I was like there is no spider? No, we are having a baby.
No matter how many things you read, nothing prepares you for this moment. I started to panic, while she was cool, calm and collected. I was running around like a headless chicken putting all the hospital bags in the car while my partner told me to relax, have a shower and have some food.
There was no rush and she was right. We organised ourselves, we rang the A&E in the CUMH and told them we were on our way. No need to rush the driving lads, take your time and get there safe.
We landed at the hospital and into to the main entrance. We filled out the paper work and made sure they had our details and handed over the bags (Make sure not to forget your hospital pack with all your details from your appointments). It was at the moment, I realised that this was going to be the last time I would see my partner until they range me to come in.
I got a bit emotional as I knew my partner was alone and not knowing how she would cope. I was told to wait in the car park for a few hours until she was checked in by staff and see how things progressed. I got the call to go home and relax around three hours later from my partner. Lads pack a blanket for the car, it gets cold in there when waiting around. Make sure to text and ring your partner to assure her you are there for her no matter what.
This part, I like to call the "baby wait game". Make sure your phone is on full charge, as you never know when you get the call. Due to the restrictions you cannot visit your partner in the hospital but you can drop items off to the hospital, to be sent to her room. My advice is to make sure to drop your partner a message to make sure she knows you are thinking of her. These few words can make her not feel alone or worried.
Thirty-six hours later I got the call to come in and yes, I was in the middle of a work call. I brought my bag of tricks with me (which included drinks and clothes) and off I went. My regret was not to pack more food. It was a fifteen-minute journey that felt longer. I parked my car, took a deep breath, put on my face mask and off I went to the maternity hospital.
I landed at the doors, I did my covid screening and I made my way down to the labour ward. I was so worried I was going to miss the birth of our child but thankfully I did not. I arrived just as the epidural was being administered. I am not a fan of needles so I had to look away. The midwife introduced themselves and off I went to support my partner. It was a sense of relief to see her again.
"The arrival" - the baby took another seven hours to arrive. This time I spent listening to my partner, asking her was she ok, holding her hands, on my phone and yes, the occasional sleep. Six hours later "game time" arrived. I will be the first to say, I did not have a notion what to do. I was above the "business end" and making sure my partner was supported. I did not say a lot, I wanted her to focus on the midwife and her guidance.
Lads you are not supporting your favourite team, so no need to scream your head off. I kept my mouth shut and told her she was doing a great job after every three pushes were finished. I cooled down her face and she let me know when I was overdoing anything. Be prepared to hold legs, hand and arms in all different positions. Get a few stretches in beforehand, my knees regret it now. If you feel a bit funny tell the midwife, you might just need a minute of fresh air. One hour and 4 minutes later our beautiful baby boy arrived. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. I got the job to cut the cord and it was a bit weird but great.
The next part I called "the covid time", I got to spend time with my partner and our new baby boy in the labour room while she recovered. We got to take photos, do skin to skin contact (bring a full zip jumper), tell our families and just spend time as a family. You also get tea and toast for the win. Then the most frustrating part is when they tell you, you have to leave as your time is up.
Leaving my partner and our little boy was so tough knowing I will not see them again for the next two or three days. It was a bit emotional for me but still text and ring to make sure they are ok. Then over the next two days, the hospital showed her all the tips and tricks, cleared them for discharged and off we went home. The journey now continues just not with hospital restrictions...
Yes, Covid restrictions are tough and us fathers are not visitors. We and our partners deserve better.