In the beginning was the word, and the word was Genie. In the unlikely event you’re reading this blog and you don’t know me, we had a baby! That’s right, hiiii! That was a bit of a bolt from the blue wasn’t it?
Jean Genie arrived on Saturday the 20th May at 12.35pm after Claire had been in labour for some 18 hours. We’d actually been in hospital since the Monday, when Claire’s waters had broken, only we discovered by the Friday that the amniotic sack had only torn, which was one reason why our little munchkin was taking his time. The other reason might be that he’s lazy like his dad. He was induced for a third time on Friday night, then we sat there watching Have I Got News For You and then listening to tunes as Claire waited for the contractions to start. Turns out we were in it for the long haul.
I tried to stay awake throughout the night, but as I say, I’m lazy; the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak, meaning I dozed off for 20 minutes at a time. I think what surprised us most though was being introduced to what they called “the second stage of labour”. The nurses left around 8.30am for an hour and a half and we sat in a darkened birthing chamber, assuming most of the hard work was behind us. I’m using the first person plural pronoun but in fairness it was Claire doing pretty much all of the work. We’d been told in hypnobirthing that the image of women screaming in agony was pure Hollywood, but when it came to the crunch it was just like Hollywood, but with 20 more nurses huddled around than you might expect. In fact maybe it was more like a rugby scrum with a vagina.
After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, Claire was told to push harder or we’d be thinking about a ‘c’ section. She sorted her technique out and the way she persevered in all that pain, well let’s just say I’ve never felt quite as proud of anyone in my life. And speaking of firsts, the moment Jeanie arrived via a large pair of tongs was one of the most profoundly strange ones I’ve ever experienced. It probably was for him too. There was all this build up and tears and pain and then he popped out in an instant, his face and perfect little body covered in blood. He had these incredible blue eyes staring out through the coat of red, and I don’t think he even let out a cry. He looked like a tiny devil and I thought “what have we done?” We’d let the Genie out of the bottle and there was no going back in (which to be fair, pissed him off more than anyone else).
I’d always assumed when a baby arrives you’d feel drawn to a new member of your clan, but for a moment I was struck with the idea that we’d summoned this demon, and suddenly we were being thrown together, as if we’d not chosen him and he’d not chosen us. Who is this wild little man anyway?
I went off to watch them weigh him, scared, and then the doctor said, “you can touch him if you like”. I stroked his little pink pigeon chest, and just the memory of beginning to bond with my boy for the first time brings tears to my eyes. The little man looked absolutely stunned, like a building had fallen on him and he’d somehow squirmed out of the rubble. He had scratches all over his face, like John McClane, and he sat there patiently staring about the place as they examined him and cleaned his little body up. It turns out he was a perfect little boy, and as I picked him up I felt like the luckiest man alive. I still do.