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The Biggest Dadventure - Isla Ember's Arrival

I had never felt so helpless. Holding a hand. Nodding to a doctor. Getting in a nurses way. Among the host of medical staff were our home birth midwives who had arrived at our house 10 hours earlier who were incredible. They gave us the strength to stick to our guns and keep the plan we had started with. Rewind those 10 hours and Laura's contractions, that had been going for 24 hours already, were getting stronger in the early hours of the morning. We eventually called the midwives and prepared the birth pool while our housemates; Jemma, Mitch and Marco, left for work.

Laura climbed in the pool, massaging, breathing, drinking, eating. Plan A was in full flow, and it was pretty enjoyable. Still terrifying, but enjoyable. Somewhere a few hours along the way something went wrong. Contractions were getting more painful, Laura was fatigued, the midwives were supportive, but now a little unsure. We changed positions, Laura was on the bed then in the shower then in the pool then in the bed, nowhere was she comfortable though. After a big push to get the baby out - who was now clearly stuck and in an awkward position - Laura was in agony with every contraction and I was fighting to stay positive & supportive, while screaming on the inside! We had to revert to plan B, an ambulance was on its way.

Waiting for the ambulance with Laura's parents lasted forever. She was putting on a brave face for them, and they were for her. No one could hide the pain the contractions were causing though, we were in a bit of trouble. Laura couldn't resist her bodies urge to push, and something was blocking the baby's way out so there was a perpetual, repeating pain and no way to stop it. Pretty intense from my view point but probably worse from hers! We climbed into an ambulance where Laura was able to use the "green whistle", a strong pain killer that did absolutely nothing for the pain but made Laura dizzy, confused and upset. We left in the ambulance as our worried housemates were returning from work. Arriving at the hospital was a massive relief but it took a lifetime to get from the car park to floor 6 and the scene of my dramatic opening sentence!

Standing next to that bed was so hard but I had to switch off and make sure we achieved what was right for Laura and I. Laura needed an end to the pain and was even asking for a C-section, a million miles away from our ideal birth plan. I knew if we could get an Epidural then Laura would be able to refocus, and enjoy giving birth the way she had planned, if not in the place she'd prefer. Then in walked the anaesthetist, a hero in this story. We had heard about epidurals taking 6 or 7 attempts, about them not being able to complete between contractions. But this took 30 seconds, we didn't even have to move Laura. And then he was gone and we were pain free... at least relatively. We continued with our business. It still took a good 4 hours of pushing until it looked like the baby was en route and imminent, and there was one more hiccup to come. As the baby was moving towards the exit, so to speak, she got stuck and, once again, we were adjusting our plans.

The junior doctor in the room was insistent that the best route forward was a caesarian section and she left us with that advice. As she left the room, our home birth midwives, ever our advocates, suggested that a more experienced doctor would be more likely to have the confidence to try a suction cup to help us on our way. So, Plan C was a suction cup... 3 midwives, 2 doctors, a worn and scared husband and an exhausted mother-to-be... pushing, pulling, encouraging, screaming, tearing (too much?), and crying. After a good hour of further "birthing", a few minor complications, and the Royal Darwin Hospital's first and only tug-o-war competition we met our amazing daughter, Isla Ember Morgan - only an hour after I had first seen her head! The feelings of relief and joy were incredible, I think I was almost in shock about how I felt - totally indescribable. I think Laura was in a similar state as she hardly noticed the doctor busily stitching away as she was cuddling the new love of her life. There was a crazy amount of blood loss and the few hours after Isla's arrival were pretty tough for mum and baby, but nothing could detract from the new joy that had entered our lives.

I've tried to be really honest and open about the birth and how I felt but it's difficult to look back and remember anything other than the feeling as I met my little girl, so you are reading my memories of the day through a fuzzy lens. We had tried to have a busy, interesting pregnancy and Laura had not let her sickness stop us from living our wonderful lives. During the pregnancy we had been to New York, Abu Dhabi and Iceland en route home to the UK to see families and spread our good news and we were still camping in the swag a couple of weeks before the due date. I guess Isla was sticking to theme - making sure her entry into the world was a memorable journey and an interesting spectacle. The video tells the story of the pregnancy, hope you enjoy a quick watch!

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