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"If I’m honest, it was a rollercoaster for me. It was both incredible and awesome, whilst also scary and totally beyond my control. But that’s the thing about birth. You’re there and you’re doing what you can, but you have no control over anything. That’s a really hard place to be. I kept worrying about something going wrong, and I had to work hard at keeping those thoughts away. I remembered from my prep how important it was that I wasn't feeling negative or worried. My favorite part was being at home in early labor. Perhaps it’s because we were in our own space but I felt like I was taking care of her and protecting her. In the hospital, with all the machines and the staff, you can feel a bit insignificant. I just kept by her side and tried to encourage her. I just really focused on being calm and making her feel safe and supported. Afterwards, Maria told me that she couldn’t have done it without my support, so I guess I got something right!"

"This was our third baby. For our first I was totally unprepared and out of my depth. I just remember not knowing what the hell to do. We also had a doctor who was quite abrupt with Pia and hardly noticed I was there, so that made us both lose our confidence. Our second baby was born by planned cesarean for medical reasons. I wasn’t allowed to be there and that had been really tough. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so powerless as watching Pia being taken into the operating theatre. So this was going to be our last baby, and after six years already of being a father, and being a bit older and a lot wiser, I wanted to really be a part of this birth. I wasn't tense about it like I was for the first two.

In the end, Pia had to have a cesarean. After about 16 hours of labour, it turned out that our daughter’s head was positioned in a way that made it impossible to be born naturally. It’s really unusual, but it happens. Unlike the previous cesarean, I was allowed to stay with Pia. It was a crazy and incredible experience. Luckily I’m not squeamish. It sounds like a negative story, but it really isn’t. For all those hours that Pia was in labour I felt like we were a real team and I felt so connected to it all and surreally calm. The staff were fantastic and did everything they could to avoid it being a cesarean. They checked in with us every time there was any kind of decision to be made, and they were really kind and respectful of Pia and of me. I feel like actually we were really lucky."

"Our first birth was a difficult experience for both of us. In retrospect we were a bit naive and just followed what we were told to do. Polly was induced and had a very hard time. I was a bit clueless. I'm a calm person by nature, but I felt quite panicky and I forgot just about everything we did in the antenatal classes because it was just so intense. For our daughter's birth, Polly decided to take a Hypnobirthing course and we chose a different place for the birth. The course was brilliant for Polly and gave her a lot of confidence and techniques. I learned some really good tools for labor and I felt like I understood it all much better. There was a conversation around induction this time too because our daughter hadn't yet come at 41 weeks, but after the last experience, we asked to wait a bit longer, and luckily labor started two days later. It was a really different experience. I think that the second time is probably always easier. I feel like we just had a lot more knowledge and resources. So I was able to help Polly stay relaxed and she was absolutely amazing.'

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