Malcom’s story (father of two)
‘The birth was absolutely sensational. It was complicated because my partner had been through a very long labour and I had a strong sense of “Oh my god, my partner’s just gone through this absolute hell”.
‘But when the baby was sitting on her, quite happy and contented, I was just happy in my role of keeping an eye on my partner. All three of us were together, and it was working out.’
Rosco’s story (father of one)
‘The birth was a mixture of exhilaration and relief. It’s pretty incredible – the slimy little baby just popped out. They’re so gorgeous and so amazing.’
Max’s story (father of five)
‘When my first daughter was born, I was overwhelmed with emotions, but I can’t say every one of them was positive. It was hard to know what to feel. There was excitement and joy, but there was also some worry and some fear about whether I would be a good and loving father.
‘What would happen if the “powerful, life-changing love” everyone talked about didn’t happen for me? But I realised that for me it was a building, gradual thing. Over time I found my own way into the new role and everything was fine.’
John’s story (father of twins)
‘During my wife’s labour, my chief thinking was making sure that first, she didn’t die and second, my sons didn’t die. But she came first. I guess this fits the role I have always felt, being the first and last line of protection. For me, childbirth was one of those moments when I stood between my family and the universe, knowing I might be powerless to do anything, but ready just in case. This was my first thought and fear when my wife told me she was pregnant, and it stayed with me every day until the birth.
‘Despite this, I felt quite calm through the birth, although my wife was exhausted and lost a huge amount of blood. Her growing paleness was my number one thought.
‘I enjoyed helping her push. I laughed inside at the looks she gave the doctor when he told her to push again and again. Even now she resents him, I think, but I thought he was solid.
‘When my boys came out, they both did the same thing, which I will always recall clearly. Twice the nurse held a boy up to me, and twice his eyes were open wider than I thought possible, looking straight into mine. They seemed very ready to take it all in, and I felt that we immediately knew each other in some kind of cosmic and primitive way.’
If your partner needs a caesarean – emergency or planned – just having you there in the operating theatre will reassure and comfort her. You can also help by knowing what’s involved before, during and after the operation.
Toby’s story (father of two)
‘You always see guys’ faces beam when they talk about birth but I didn’t think I was really ready for meeting my son. I didn’t think it would open my heart as much as it did. When the obstetrician was pulling him out, his little face came up. I’ve got quite a big nose, and I looked at this little head and I said, “It’s definitely mine”, because this big nose was covering half his face.
‘It was unbelievable. The world stopped. There was absolutely nothing else that crossed my mind and absolutely nothing that I could think of other than how miraculous this was.’
Rick’s story (father of three)
‘We’d had an emergency caesarean with our first child, so it was pretty much a no-brainer that the twins were going to be a c-section. To compound that, one of them was breech so it would have been quite an effort for my partner to make everything happen naturally.
‘l was just up there comforting my wife. It was pretty cruisey. The staff walk you through what’s going to happen, and you’re not at the business end. You don’t see the blood and everything, and you just need to be there to comfort your partner.’
Aaron’s story (father of one)
‘The thing about planned caesareans is that they are scheduled. You get told, “It’s all going to happen at 7 am”, and all the mystery and suspense disappears. That’s a funny feeling.
‘With caesareans, you’ve gotta be prepared to hear some noises that are pretty extraordinary, like squelching noises that are horrifying when you think about what they really are. There are noises that make you go, “Wow!”
‘The amazing thing about caesareans is that you get to hold your baby first because your partner is being stitched up.’
Michael's story (father of one)
‘Incredible! Just absolutely incredible. You look down at this little person and see them in your life suddenly, and it’s … very emotional.
‘It’s a very odd thing because in a caesarean, you’re in an operating suite so there are bright lights and you’re wearing weird clothes, but it’s an extraordinary moment that you never forget. Just enjoy the moment.’