This week I delivered my own baby – and yes, you have read that correctly.
Clearly it is not something I’d planned or had wanted to do – give any man in the country a choice between pulling a baby out of their wife’s nether regions while lay in the marital bed at 4am or watching Match of the Day and I’m fairly sure they’d choose the latter.
However, sometimes in life – like going to work, having to make small-talk with a neighbour you’re not keen on, or dying – you don’t have a choice.
So let me begin this tale at the beginning. Well, not right at the beginning; that was nine months ago when for once Mrs Canavan didn’t have a headache and there was nowt on TV.
We’ll fast forward to Monday, when within 10 minutes of going to bed – and just as I had begun a dream involving Pamela Anderson and a camping trip, I felt her (Mrs Canavan, not Pamela) stiffen and grab my arm.
“What’s up?” I enquired.
‘I think my water’s have just broken,’ she gasped.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
‘Well either that or I’ve involuntarily wet myself,’ she said sharply before jumping out of bed with surprising agility for someone the size of a Humpback whale and dashing to the bathroom.
This was a tricky situation. Was I meant to follow and enquire after her condition or was it acceptable to roll over and go back to sleep? Naturally I chose the latter.
Two minutes later she returned, switched the light on and holding up her knickers and pointing to a large damp patch, announced, ‘yes, they’ve definitely broken’.
The next hour involved me lying in bed trying to sleep, while Mrs Canavan did a kind of athletics routine around the room, jumping up and down each time another contraction hit, while crying out in agony.
She was so loud that at one point the cat knocked on the bedroom door looking cheesed off and asked if we could let him outside. I knew how he felt.
We went to hospital, but were sent home, something to do with dilation.
A short time later, about 3ish, Mrs C suddenly screamed, vomited, and then, with words I think will haunt me for the rest of my life, gasped, ‘it’s coming’.
I’m not sure exactly what happened next but as I began a short speech along the lines of ‘are you sure, you’re probably mistaken’, Mrs Canavan – now sat with her knees on the bedroom floor, her arms and head on the bed, and her bottom protruding in the air – rang 999.
It was at that point I glanced down and with something way beyond the emotion of horror, saw the distinct shape of a baby’s head emerging.
With the phone on loud speaker, a fantastic woman called Debbie talked us through what to do.
Mrs Canavan was told to lie on the bed. One push later and the head was fully out, at which point I wasn’t sure whether to faint, cry, or to run as far away as possible.
When our first child had been born, I’d stayed up the head end and not dared looked down below once.
Now I had blood and all sort of other suspicious looking gunk on my hands and arms and cradling a small human head.
This was the scariest part for I noticed the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. What’s more the baby was completely lifeless.
The operator told me to stay calm (calm?!?) and to gently remove the cord.
Using a shaky finger I managed, at about the fifth attempt, to loop the cord over his head and untangle it from his neck.
The baby’s eyes suddenly twitched, and it jerkily moved its head and let out a cry. I don’t think I’ve felt such relief since our plumber told us not to spend £2,000 on a new boiler because the old one was still okay.
One more contraction/push and blow me, the whole baby popped out into my hands.
“It’s a boy,” I cried. I knew this not from a physical inspection but because he asked who Man United were playing on Saturday.
I had to wipe his body and cover him with blankets to keep him warm and stick my finger into his tiny mouth and make sure it was clear.
‘Right, the ambulance is almost with you Steven,’ said Debbie in the 999 room, before instructing me to tie some string around the umbilical cord.
The only thing I could think of were my shoelaces, though this was a bit annoying as they were new trainers.
I unlaced my shoes one-handed – a feat, on reflection, I reckon more impressive than delivering the baby – and tied it around the cord, while regretting not going to cubs and learning how to tie a proper knot.
When this was done we could kind of relax, or as much as you can relax when you and your wife are sat in the bedroom at 4.30am on a Tuesday, with a new-born baby staring at you and no one with any medical expertise in sight.
But then, thank the lord, three paramedics arrived and took control. They were superb, I can’t praise them enough, and they were joined by an equally fantastic midwife a short while after, who helped Mrs Canavan deliver the placenta, which she then popped in a plastic container and placed on the windowsill, just next to a family picture taken on a caravanning holiday in Anglesey.
And that was about that.
My son, Wilf Canavan, weighed in at 7lb and will forever be told his father single-handedly delivered him (though Mrs Canavan played a small part too).
The upside of having a home birth is we saved £2.50 on parking at the hospital.
The downside is that we had to bin – because of all the blood – six towels, two sets of bedsheets, one duvet cover and a mattress protector, and spend £110 on replacements from Dunelm Mill… but rest assured, I’ll be taking that out of Wilf’s pocket money when he’s older.
I’m now off to have whatever medical procedure is necessary to ensure I never father another child.
On a serious note, may I just pay tribute to my wife – who, without so much as a paracetamol, pushed out a baby in incredibly brave and calm fashion. She was absolutely marvellous and will forever have my admiration. Though it was, as I will always remind her, me who, technically, delivered the baby…