Can I tell you a few baby things? A week ago, our second son, Nico Robert Salvatore, was born. It’s been just great to know him so far.
He came about ten days early. My wife said late on Thursday.
“Mm, you better be ready, I think this baby is coming tonight.”
I readied myself, but I still fell asleep. At 2.30 am I woke to find her moving around the room.
“I think it’s happening”, she said.
I got up, got dressed, took her bags down to the car. Last time we had a kid, it took ages, a long protracted labour. So we weren’t in any particular rush. We took our time getting in the car and getting off.
(luckily, we had a friend staying, so our 3 year old could sleep on..)
Marisa phoned the hospital to say we were on the way. By this time, the pressure down below was really building. She mentioned this on the phone, and mentioned how frequently the contractions were happening.
“You need to pull over NOW,” the lady said. “You’re having the baby. I’ll send an ambulance.
So we pulled over at St George Cross in Glasgow. A little street called Clarendon Place. It occurred to me that if we had the baby here, we’d have to call it Clarendon. Clarendon! How do you shorten that for football?
The lady hit me with loads of questions about Marisa and her condition. She had lost loads of blood at the last birth – that’s what worried us most this time. If she was going to have the baby here, would there be blood?
“This is a lot of questions! Is the ambulance on its way?” I asked rather anxiously.
“I’ve already sent it. But you need to get your wife into the back seat of the car just in case.”
There was a team of workers fixing streetlights, parked opposite. Wonder if they knew what was going on? Could they see my wife bundled rather unceremoniously into the back seat with the door still open, about to have a kid.
“Have you something to wrap the baby in if it comes?” the lady asked.
“There’s an old sleeping bag here”
Just as my wife positioned herself for pushing, and I uttered some useless placations, the ambulance arrived.
The two men got her in there, and told me to make my way to the hospital.
“Don’t try to keep up with us, we’ll put the lights on”, they said.
Never one to shirk a challenge, I shot off before them so I could beat them there.
It occurred to me that if she had the baby in the ambulance, delivered by the men, we’d have to call the baby ‘Jim’ or ‘Charlie’. Maybe both.
They passed me on the motorway, lights flashing. I got in just behind them. I was delighted that for the first time I got a space in the maternity lot. I relayed this information to my wife as soon as I caught up with her (on the trolley, whizzing along the hospital corridor) but she was incapable of sharing in my good fortune at the time.
My wife was in a high degree of discomfort when she reached the labour suite. Our midwife was Marie. (contrary to the films you see when couples seem to have built up a steady and intimate relationship with their delivery doctor over the months and weeks before, we just met Marie right then. And it didn’t seem to matter.)
“Give me the gas and air!”
“Are you having a contraction?”
“Here it is. Breath deep, Marisa!”
“I want an epidural!”
“It’s too late for that.”
“But it’s so painful!” she sobbed.
“You’re having a baby!”
My wife afterwards said that it was the most primal thing she had ever felt. An overwhelming mix of pain and force to get the baby out.
She had an epidural last time, that is, an injection of local anaethestic into the spinal chord, which numbs the nerves and helps with labour pain. It’s necessary in some situations. This time it was deemed not, and things happened much faster, much stronger, and perhaps it might be said, more naturally, than the first time.
Nico got his head out. Lots of dark hair.
“You’re half way there!” I said, gripping my wife tightly.
“More than half. 70%.” said another lady. She must have ghosted in sometime.
One more strong push and the baby was out. Marisa’s pain turned quickly to overwhelming joy. She held the baby, all red and raw and bewildered.
“I never have to go through that again!” she yelled.
Everything was great. I cut the chord, we got cleaned up. Marisa even had a shower, while I swaddled the wean. I looked at him. I wasn’t quite sure if he looked like a Nico, the way that our first so obviously looked like a Denny when he was born.
“He doesn’t really look like a Nico to me. Are you sure about the name?”
“Don’t fuck with me.” My wife said, or something along those lines. I didn’t want to fuck with her. I figured, she had done everything, she could call it Wilberforce Dandelion for all I cared. We had decided on the name before hand, and that was that.
I do love naming things. Of course I do. I get to name songs, and bands, and films and records. It’s fun. There is a lot in a name. Or at least I like to think so.
Marisa wanted an Italian name this time. She made lists – ten for a girl and ten for a boy. Then she found out she was having a boy. I looked at the boys’ list. I didn’t much fancy them. Italian names are quite frilly. But there was Nico. And Nico sang “I’m Not Sayin”, so that was good enough for me.
We bunged on Robert, my dad, and Salvatore, Marisa’s brother. I loved that Salvatore was in there. Saviour. Like Nico came to save the day.
At 6am, we sat quite peacefully in the labour suite. They didn’t have a bed for Marisa upstairs on the ward, but she was quite content to stay in that quiet room. She was in a really good mood, not just because of the baby, but because of all the laughing gas the midwife gave her while she gave my wife some stitches.
“I’ll need to cancel the band meeting.”
“There’s no chance I could just pop along for a bit is there? It would be fun to tell them all.”
Good time to ask.
“Go to your band meeting.” she said
So like a man who had drunk too much on an overnight flight in economy, I staggered out into the cold morning. I drove back to town, got some life saving eggs, and tottered into the meeting at our rehearsal room, at 10am.
I had left the studio the previous night at 11. Everyone was chatting, catching up, talking about DIY, and the track that we had just finished the might before. We sat down to start the meeting.
“So, Marisa had the baby..”
Everyone jumped up to hug and congratulate. It was a good to suprise them. It’s rare these days that you manage to surprise anyone! They always hear stuff through the grapevine before it even happens..
So that’s about it. A very husband-centric view of events. And I never even got to tell you how delighted and mystified I was to receive three pairs of Nike trainers through the post that morning. (even though I’d only ordered one pair) And that they’d arrived on the same day that Nico had. (Nike is the root origin of Nico)
I will add one thing, and it’s a spiritual observation. It happened with the first kid, and it happened with this one.
When you have a child I think it allows you to feel a little bit like God does. You made something, you love it with an overwhelming love, and you are charged with caring for it whatever happens.
I don’t know whether it’s hubris, but that’s the perspective that came to me. It helped me to feel how much we all must be loved by God. Because God is surely able to muster a stronger and purer love than we ever can. Yet the love I had for both my kids was instant and all encompassing.
It’s just a thought, but it feels true to me, so I’m passing it on.