Life changes and specifically the one I was hinting at on my last post are important because they act as reminders (whether positive or not) that life is short and for living – changes occur to expedite movement where there is stagnation. So, two things have taken place that will move the rest of my life further along
At precisely 4.50pm yesterday my wife ended an ordeal of almost 3 hours in which she fought to push our son (her first baby) into the world. He was born at home, in our front room because there was no time to get to hospital and the midwife was on scene. I’d called an ambulance, which I swore I’d never do because normal labour isn’t an emergency and you get plenty of warning, but this was different and I misjudged it. She had been in labour for hours but it had been nothing more than a twinge or two every now and again; we both agreed that we were going to go to hospital by car, as per the original plan and the timing looked good – I was measuring the rate of each contraction and her pain score was low but it changed suddenly as I readied the bags for the trip to Maternity. She made another sound – one I’d never heard her make and it was obvious the pain had intensified. Now she needed to push.
I remained as calm as I could but I now had a problem. I couldn’t take her in the car or a taxi because it looked and sounded like she was imminent and the waves of pain were making her stand still, bend over and rest against whatever she could. I had to call an ambulance and I found myself apologising for the nature of the call. The hospital sent our Community Midwife and a young student and both arrived within thirty seconds of the FRU. The poor medic didn’t get a chance to start – the midwife took over, decided to stay put and sent him away, cancelling the ambulance. My wife was going to have the baby at home after all. Another Midwife was summoned and the five of us prepared for an expected quick delivery.
But our baby got stuck somewhere along the way and almost three hours passed as my wife endured the pain and trauma of pushing to the point of complete exhaustion. The possibility of moving her rapidly to hospital was considered over and over again but she was determined to continue at home and, despite my growing fears for the baby (and her), she braved it out and finally delivered little Harry Gray into the world. During the entire struggle his heart rate remained steady and normal, although my wife’s was spiralling and I could feel that as I sat beside or behind her, depending on which position she was trying, supporting every effort she made.
I cut his cord and forgot to keep the cutters, which still annoys me. The Midwives stayed for a while afterwards (they'd been on scene for fours hours by the time they left) and I cannot praise them highly enough. I work in London and have had, to be honest, poor experiences of some Midwives working there, so this team helped change my mind entirely and I have a great respect for the 'old school' that still love their jobs.
Harry is fine and healthy. He sleeps a lot and has yet to feed properly but that’s okay - he’s alive and well and we are both very happy to have him with us. The night ended with pizza and lots of fluids (water and coke); both of us were dehydrated and starving. My wife hadn’t slept for 24 hours and she had endured her pain without any relief – no analgesics were taken at all; no entonox, no morphine. Our Midwife called her the strongest woman she'd ever met.
My second life change will be my career. I still love my job but I have recognised that, even with the best intentions of Universities and professional bodies around the UK, at present and for the immediate future, there is nowhere to go. There’s no prospect of furthering my career unless I decide to leave the frontline, partially or fully. I had never intended to end my working life as a paramedic and quite frankly, society and the related professions still haven’t been able to recognise us as more than just ambulance drivers – even A&E nurses, with whom we are equally banded, can sometimes treat us as little more than the delivery people for their patients. I don’t blame them because all we ever seem to do is bring in one drunken timewaster after another – my God, we even have ambulances dedicated for that task alone, we call them booze buses!
I have decided to pursue my childhood ambition of becoming a doctor and will apply to study medicine in 2011. I’ll still be doing my job (hopefully) until then and I will continue to write the diary of course but I want to achieve all that I can be – I am no longer happy to settle for less because I think my age will be against me. So, it’s onwards and upwards.
This rest (I am on leave and have paternity leave as well) is doing me good. I am focussing on my novel, which will probably be late now and hope to continue writing in the future. The diary won’t disappear but it may change because I have new things to say – let’s see; it’s early days yet.
As for Harry – well, his arrival and the nature of it has reminded me to confine my opinion on pregnancy and labour and the need (or not) for an ambulance to the reality of another person’s life – their pain, their experiences. I will always have opinions but I want to base them on the balance of truth and reality, not generalisation and frustration.