Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Birth Story, Penned By A New DAD

Eleanor Roosevelt once said "Do one thing every day that scares you".  For us, labour was a little like that. We were scared. Not terrified, but certainly scared about the unknowns; about sharing such an intimate moment with someone else; about whether we would stay upright, keep our lunch down, or descend into complete hysteria. 

We had some prior experience of childbirth - M was present for the birth of one of his nieces, I had done a lot of research and made sure we attended our prenatal classes. We were scared, sure, but we wouldn't have missed it for the world (which is why we arrived 3 weeks early in case something happened!).
We had come to the date of our scheduled labour, 12 May 2014.  Surprisingly, we slept well the night prior. It was possibly the knowledge of it being our last uninterrupted sleep for many years, but we slept through to the 5.45am wake up time, ready for a call from Mandy which would tell us whether the hospital had capacity to accept us for the 7am scheduled induction.

They did.

We quickly showered, packed our bags, grabbed a coffee and hoped in the car on a clear Seattle morning.  Mt Rainier will forever have a special place in our hearts, looming over the Bellevue skyline as we raced over the 520 bridge towards Overlake Medical Centre. Neither of us uttered a word, excited and scared for the day ahead.

We arrived at Overlake at the same time as Mandy & Chris. After wishing Chris a happy birthday (apologising for the small distraction on his special day!) and completing the paperwork, we were in the room. The countdown had begun, we just didn't know how long was left on the clock.

The medical staff broke Mandy's waters at around 8.30am, hoping that would kick her into labour.  It did to some extent, but we needed to add pitocin to get things really moving.  Mandy had told us for many months prior that she laboured long, with her previous births taking over 24 hours, so we were prepared for a long day.  That said, she hadn't been induced before, nor had she given birth to someone else's baby, so there were still a lot of unknowns.
At around 2pm our friends and family in Australia started to awaken.  We had debated about whether we should share the events of the day on social media, but in hindsight I am so glad we did. The outpouring of love and support from almost every continent on earth was truly special, and helped us feel like we were not alone, despite being 14,000 kilometres from home.

The contractions and dialation progressed slowly but surely throughout the day.  By dinner time, things were getting moving and Mandy had her epidural.  Her aunt and birthing support person, Becky, joined us for a walk to Whole Foods to get some dinner and when we returned to Mandy the epidural was in, and she was as talkative and jovial as ever.
The pitocin levels were gradually increased throughout the evening. Every time the pitocin levels went up, Mandy would have a rest, her body seemingly knowing what was ahead.  Contractions and Mandy's dialation increased slowly but surely, and there was a positive energy in the room as we chatted with the nurses and each other about important subjects such as whether the Beach Boys preceded the Beatles, and the intricacies of traffic mapping (thanks Chris!).
As midnight approached, we began taking bets on whether baby would be born on the 12th or 13th.  Things really started to ramp up around 11.30, and as we ticked over midnight, the pushing started. Mandy was focused, putting her every last ounce of energy into bringing this little girl into the world. Meanwhile, we were holding hands, tensing with each push.  As the head began to emerge, we decided we didn't want to miss a moment, and moved to the foot of the bed, where Becky joined us, arm in arm, as we both became overwhelmed,

At 1.18am on 13th May 2014, our gorgeous little girl was born and our lives were changed forever.

Until now, we had been scared to cut the cord but as the doctor asked us one last time, we both felt a sense of responsibility in our new role as fathers. We took the scissors in both our hands, and without any hesitation, severed the physical tie from the amazing woman who had made all this possible, Mandy.  We were no longer a couple; we were a family.
Our daughter Eleanor weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces, was 21.5 inches long, and had a head of hair to rival any adult.

We had just experienced the scariest but most incredible moment of our lives, and we were so happy and grateful we did.
Words cannot express our gratitude to Mandy and her family for not only being with us for this journey, but allowing us to be present for such an intimate moment. Our families are forever intertwined and as I sit here writing this account, my eyes well with tears when I think of the love and selflessness that is required to do what she has done. Like our daughter's namesake, I have no doubt that becoming a surrogate was incredibly scary for Mandy.  But it is love, not fear, that brought us together. By overcoming fear, love has given us Eleanor and made us a family.


  1. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing

  2. Amazing!!! Congratulations Mandy to you :) Thank you for helping others to bring the joy of a new life.
    Single Dad 1

  3. So amazing, and well written! Congrats, Dads and Mandy!

  4. Really great post.. I like This post.

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