Sunday, August 28, 2011

Waiting for Isabella - prequel

This will be the first in a series of blogs I intend to write about our pregnancy and Isabella's first adventures in the world.  The entries are purely for me to self indulge, to keep a record and to give any future fathers an insight into how they might feel later.  My future postings will be solely from the male (i.e. my) perspective and will largely focus on the challenges people might encounter in cross culture relationships, especially where significant language barriers exist.

Waiting for Issy - The first 6 months

In the initial stages, not a lot changed for me.  Obviously Hanh was experiencing the usual changes women go through with imminent child birth, but she was still going to work everyday, going out with friends, driving her motorbike and generally just living life like normal.  As a future dad, there was very little I could really do at this point.  As many of you will already know, family is extremely close and important in Vietnam, so my wife's sister was around most weekends and as most caring is done by the immediate family minus the men, I felt pretty surplus to requirements.  I just carried on life as normal, working, having a few beers and playing and watching sport.  Of course I was conscious of what was going on at home, it just felt like there was very little caring I could be as everything was already covered!

The final 3 months

At this point things started to change.  Hanh wanted me about a bit more and I started going out a bit less.  Not that I'm always out, but I was frequently busy playing football, cricket, tennis and working so as D-day was approaching I started to cut down on the amount of sport I was playing.  This was helped by the fact I was injured, but as Hanh was becoming increasingly tired and immobile, it also felt right to make sure Hanh wasn't at home alone too often or for too long.  I can't overstate how much on what I did during the final months was based on feeling.  You read countless blogs, websites or go to antenatal classes that tell you what you should be doing, but in my case, it was pretty obvious and a sudden mentality change happened.  It was at this point that I knew that life as we knew it had now changed.

Antenatal classes

Both we went to these classes, I'd heard mixed feelings from other men.  Some thought they were a waste of time whereas others felts they were very informative.  I must admit, I definitely fall into the second camp.  Both Bella was born, I really didn't have too much of a clue about what I was going to be facing or what I had to do.  It's good asking other people about what they experienced, but it so often the case with anecdotes, everyone has a slightly different story so it's difficult to know who to listen to.  The best thing about the antenatal classes was realising that (in particular the men) were as clueless as me.  I had no idea about babies' feeding habits, sleeping and bathroom routines, what colour their poo should be in the first few days, what temperature they should be, that the babies' neck need careful support and that babies are prone to hiccuping.

We only took 2 intensive courses due to my work commitment, but in that time we learned about the signs of labour, what to expect when something goes wrong during the delivery and different pain relief options.  Now, as we have a couple of complications during the birth along with the fact that the doctors didn't speak English, the knowledge about what was going to happen was a great source of comfort to me.  As although I didn't really understand what was going on, it was similar to how the midwife giving the classes said it should go. Therefore, in the midst of the final stages of labour, I felt strangely calm and confident in the doctors as they were doing exactly what I thought they should be.  Without the classes, I think I'd have been a mess.

Not only did we learn a whole lot about pre and post birth, it was just fun to chat to couples at a similar stage of pregnancy to chat about what they were going through.  The best bit for me was that everyone had something different to say.  The women were all experiencing different 'side-effects', feelings and bumps were different sizes.  The men, generally, felt equally useless but excited about their upcoming arrivals.  It was a fun environment to discuss questions that you might find a little embarrassing to articulate in normal conversations.  I also gained a sense of security knowing that I wasn't the only one having 'stupid questions'.

The month before

Imagine, you're 8 years old.  You've been locked in a room for you don't know how long and you have no idea what the date is.  Someone lets you out of the room and says 'It's sometime in December'.  How would you feel every night?  Well, if it was me, I'd be so excited that Christmas is anytime soon that I wouldn't be able to sleep.  Christmas could be tonight, or it could be in 24 days time.  If you understand this, you'll start to understand how I was feeling in the lead in to labour.  Hanh and I had reached an agreement at this time, that she would only call be for one reason, to tell me that our child was on the way.  However, as she was the only one in on the agreement, my heart stopped every time one of my friends called me.  Also, by this point, my wife was struggling to sleep which meant I was too.  Hanh tossed and turned in bed, trying to get comfortable, and I keep waking up in fear that she was in labour.  Therefore we were both getting more and more tired and tense as we just didn't know when our little one would choose to make an appearance.

In the final month, I was definitely at home a lot more.  One thing they told us at the antenatal class was that massages were good for pregnant women and Hanh definitely remembered that part!  However, I don't think I'm very good at giving them because she didn't ask me too often.  What I remember most clearly from this stage is impatience.  We both just wanted him/her to come into the world.  We were tired of not sleeping well, I was tired of constantly being on edge whenever I felt my phone vibrate and generally just tired of waiting!  Well, at 5:30am on Saturday 6th August 2011 (or so we thought), the waiting was soon to be over.

No comments:

Post a Comment