They were nervous about even being at the birth, then their wives went into sudden labour at home — and they had to be the midwife: Meet the dads who really delivered!
- Mark Wrighthardt tried to catch his daughter as she slid out, but she slipped halfway down his arm and went partly down the toilet
- Akshay Misra was ready with his hands ‘like a cricketer doing catching practice in the slips’ to catch his daughter when she was born at home
- Brett Nurse delivered two of his children as home water births when the midwife left at the end of her shift
The birth of a child is a momentous moment in any father’s life. But what happens when the baby decides to make a surprise appearance with no medical help to hand? Here, three dads reveal why Father’s Day has a particularly special meaning for them . . .
I USED TO FAINT AT THE SIGHT OF BLOOD
Mark Wrighthardt, 40, is a full-time father who formerly worked in IT. He is married to Heather, 38, a therapy radiographer, and they live in Dorset. Mark delivered daughter Ariana, now three, in May 2016. Mark says:
I’m very squeamish. When I was a teenager, I fainted when I had to go to hospital, and whenever Heather had a blood test during her pregnancy, I turned away from the needle.
I’d just about geared myself up to deal with a hospital birth, but baby Ariana had other ideas.
Heather was only 37 weeks pregnant — three weeks away from her due date — when she started to experience the first stages of labour.
But her backache then turned to cramps and what we now know were actually contractions.
Three hours later, Heather had a sudden urge to go to the toilet and was shouting at me to ring the hospital to find out if it was safe to do so.
The hospital said we needed to come in. But when Heather asked me to check whether I could see the baby’s head, I could see she was coming.
Brett Nurse, who delivered two of his three children with wife Helen. Picture with (l-r) George, Charlie and Daisy
Mark Wrighthardt delivered daughter Ariana (left) at home as did Akshay Misra when Mina was born (right)
I rang 999, putting the call handler on speaker phone because I knew I needed both hands.
It all happened so quickly that I just had to act. As Ariana’s head came out, Heather’s waters broke and I was waiting to catch her.
As the baby slid out, she slipped halfway down my arm and went partly down the toilet.
I grabbed her and I remember Heather asking me: ‘Is she all right?’
I also remember being astonished at how thick the cord was. As I handed Ariana to Heather, I could hear the call handler telling me to go and get some towels, which is when I raced to the airing cupboard.
I didn’t know the sex of the baby until Heather said: ‘We have a daughter!’ She had to tell me twice as I didn’t hear the first time due to shock.
The ambulance arrived, but it was all over by then. Ariana was born at 5.24pm, only three hours after Heather had gone into labour.
Afterwards, I went into shock. I was terrified for days and didn’t sleep for nights. Now I feel privileged and proud to have delivered my daughter. I never knew I had it in me.
Heather says: Mark is so squeamish that I can’t believe he got through delivering our baby without fainting.
Since then, we have both written down our version of our experiences that day and have emailed it to Ariana on an account that Mark has set up for her.
We plan to give her the password on her 16th birthday.
It’s wonderful that her dad brought her into the world.
Naoko Ikeguchi with her two-year-old daughter Mina
IT BEAT A POLAR EXPEDITION
Akshay Misra is a maritime lawyer who lives in London with his wife, Naoko Ikeguchi (left), a teacher, and their daughter, Mina, now two. Both are in their mid-30s. Akshay delivered Mina in April 2017. He says:
I’ve been lucky enough to do some incredible things in my life. In 2008 I was the youngest Indian to reach the North Pole. But delivering my daughter is by far the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.
It was Easter Sunday and my wife and I had had a relaxing weekend. We’d been out for a meal and to the cinema, and had gone to bed at half past midnight.
Naoko woke me around 3am. She was one day overdue and the labour pains had started. I didn’t panic — I knew from speaking to the midwives that it takes around six hours before labour really starts, so I made sure Naoko was comfortable.
But 40 minutes later, I heard her cry out so I rang the birthing centre. They said we should come in.
I was about to get the overnight bag when Naoko said her waters had broken. I called the birthing centre again, and this time they told us to call an ambulance.
I didn’t panic, even when blood had started to flow everywhere. I called 999, took Naoko to the bathroom and we could both see that the baby’s head was coming out.
The call handler on the end of the line said that I was going to have to deliver the baby myself.
I was ready with my hands like a cricketer doing catching practice in the slips and before we knew it, Mina came out. It was 4.24am. The only moment I felt scared was in those seconds when she seemed to have breathing difficulties.
Akshay Misra and his daughter Mina shortly after he delivered her in the bathroom at home
I realise now that she was simply doing what newborns do when they breathe fresh air for the first time, and the paramedic on the phone reassured me that all was well, but my heart really raced.
I wiped her with a towel and at that moment, the paramedics arrived and delivered the placenta. I had wanted to cut the cord, but I was busy getting towels when it happened. But that’s fine — I’d delivered my baby.
Naoko went in the ambulance to St Mary’s hospital in Paddington. She was pretty weak as she’d lost half a litre of blood, but the doctors were amazed at her recovery.
While the girls stayed in hospital overnight, I returned to the flat and set to work with the Dettol. It looked like a murder scene.
It may sound odd, but I didn’t have any feelings at all for my daughter until the following day.
My job is very pressured, so at times I have to behave in a robotic manner. I think I’d gone into that mode during the birth. It was only the following day when it hit me, and I cried for an hour.’
Naoko says: Akshay was absolutely fantastic. It was the most challenging task that we’ve ever had to face in our married life, and it’s definitely strengthened our relationship.
I NEVER PLANNED TO DELIVER TWO
Brett Nurse not long after the birth of his daughter Daisy. Two of his three children were delivered at home
Brett Nurse, 43, is co-founder of children’s events firm wonder adventures.co.uk with his wife, Helen, 40. They live with children George, 11, Daisy, ten, and Charlie, two in Lymm, Cheshire. Brett says:
All three of our children were planned home water births — but delivering two of them myself was never in any of our plans! It was ten years ago that Helen was in labour with our second child.
The midwife was there, but as her shift came to an end, she said she’d have to leave and another midwife would be along soon. Although Helen wasn’t making much progress, I was uneasy about being left alone. What if she had the baby while I was on my own?
After the midwife left, I suggested that Helen get into the birthing pool to ease her pain. That’s when the action started. Two minutes later, Helen said the baby was coming. I rang the ward and they put me on hold! I couldn’t believe it.
Helen’s dad was at the house, so I told him to dial 999. Meanwhile, I checked Helen and could see that the baby’s head was coming out.
Brett Nurse with Daisy, 9, and Charlie, 21 months, who were both delivered at home
I’d remembered from George’s birth that she’d need to push again to get the shoulder out, so I gently guided Daisy out but she wasn’t breathing. I lifted her towards Helen’s chest and that’s when Daisy cried. It was the longest four seconds of my life.
Once I knew Daisy was fine, I had a mix of adrenaline and happiness. I couldn’t believe that it had all happened so quickly — about 15 minutes from start to finish.
I had no plans to do it again, but in August 2016, Helen went into labour with our third child, and I had a huge sense of déjà vu.
We had the birthing pool, the midwife was here but again she started talking about her shift change. I thought: ”No, you need to be here!” I was a bit annoyed we were being left alone again.
I tried to remain calm, but I couldn’t believe it when, half an hour after the midwife had left, Helen needed to push.
This time it didn’t quite go to plan. Charlie came out and was purple and white. The cord had got trapped and I struggled to free it. Charlie wasn’t making a sound — it was terrifying.
‘The baby isn’t crying,’ I said to the paramedic on the other end of the phone. I remember being told to wiggle my fingers around his mouth to clear his airway, but I was very worried.
By the time the ambulance crew arrived minutes later, he still wasn’t responding, but he cried out soon afterwards.
Ironically, doctors think Helen was so relaxed and the birth had been so untraumatic — for Charlie at least — that he’d been born sleeping.
Helen says: ‘At no point did it go through my head that Brett couldn’t do this. I had every faith he would get me through, both times. He was so calm and encouraging. I couldn’t have wished for more perfect deliveries!’
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