Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Birth Part 2: Keep calm and agree emergency surgery

At the point of epidural, my day completely transformed. It was like going to the toilet and stepping back into a different room. Which I could have done had the ward not been so well sign-posted (well done Leeds General Infirmary).

I no longer needed to operate the TENS machine, no more offering water and I didn’t have to attempt to provide words of encouragement. Ana was no longer in the zone over a birthing ball on the floor, focused on her breathing and getting through each contraction. She was sat up in bed and chatting casually to the nursing staff like it was just another day.

If I felt a bit useless earlier, the epidural rendered me even more so. Ana had clearly had a tough day at this point, and I’d had a long old slog too.

So, while she got to know the ladies of the night shift, I settled in a chair and had a little snooze, punctuated by the odd moment checking my phone to see if Manchester United were being beaten by Cambridge United in the FA Cup.

Action stations

Around 10pm everything changed again. As mentioned earlier, it was all about being calm in our room so we didn’t worry too much when the consultant on the ward wandered in for a quiet word.

She explained that some element of distress had been spotted in Twin 2 and they would be keen, if we were willing of course, to get the twins out sooner rather than later.

“Do you mean a C-section?”, we asked.


“How soon?”


“What, you mean right now?”


“Oh, ok then.”

All of this was done so coolly and calmly that we actually didn’t realise until the next day that, at that point, we’d just agreed to an emergency C-section.

As I was half-asleep at this point, the urgency definitely didn’t hit me as hard as it should have. I wandered off to make a coffee to wake myself up and call home to inform the family of the latest, only to be quickly directed into a male changing room to get scrubbed up.

Then, after a quick pre-photo in which Ana and I look two parts excited and two parts nervous as hell, we were off down the corridor to the anaesthetist and then boom, we’re in theatre.

Meeting the twins

While I can remember the nerves and tension in both of us when Ana’s anaesthetic was topped up, I can’t really recall how I felt in theatre. I sat with Ana, held her hand and we just talked about being excited to meet the babies. In the background, Smooth Radio was – rather too fittingly – playing Leave Right Now by Will Young.

It probably wasn’t, but in my head only minutes had gone by in the theatre when a screeching baby was held aloft at the other side of a screen erected to block Ana’s view of her insides. We had chosen not to find out the sex of the twins, so I was asked quickly whether I could see who had come first. I spotted the necessary equipment and told Ana we had a baby boy. Then in unison we exclaimed the name that we’d agreed on weeks in advance – “Oscar!” He was born just minutes before 11pm.

Twin 2 came out just a couple of minutes later and the routine was repeated, this time it was a girl – “Isabel!” She needed a little air to get going but was soon wrapped up and in Mummy’s arms, while Oscar drew the short straw and sat with Daddy. I’ll never forget when he first flicked an eye open to have a little sneaky peek about and try to figure out what the hell was going on.

Meeting the new housemates for the first time

While Ana’s beautiful innards were carefully arranged and slotted back into place, we got time with them both to say hello and introduce ourselves. Smooth Radio continued to provide such a suitable soundtrack that you’d think they were in on the whole thing. You’re The Best Thing by The Style Council was given the whirl at one point while I stood with Oscar, just elated.

Once out of theatre, I made what has been described to me on several occasions as an excruciating phone call to the family. Apparently I was supposed to just tell them the names and not go on about the limit to a couple of visitors out-of-hours and how only the mums were coming in that night. But whatever. Nothing wrong with getting the admin out of the way first, yeah?

Looking back, it is funny to think of how much of the time in between the birth and now is so jumbled and fuzzy in my head, yet I remember the events of when Oscar and Isabel were born so well. Our journey essentially started on a Thursday morning and lasted until the end of the following day.

For me, it was huge lesson in patience. For Ana, it was no doubt one of significant perseverance. The birth did not go how she would have liked or planned, but we always knew that things may change and we would have to go with it. But we did it. Well, she did it.

We’ll also be eternally grateful to the staff at Leeds General Infirmary for their work, particularly in spotting the concerns regarding Twin 2 – our little Isabel. She was ready to come out but was agitated that her brother was blocking the way, the cheeky blighter.

We feel incredibly lucky that both of them left Mummy OK in the end, even if it was to Will Young.


  1. Ah thats so lovely. Nice to see another side of someone have emergency c sec as I had one with Bailey. Being told she was having a bit of trouble and needs to come out, sign this and off I went. Later to find out she had poohed and decided to breath it in and also swallow some. Yum! Robbie williams was playing for me lol

    1. Oh no! Not sure I would have handled something like that!