Dad's the word: How fathers cope

When David Cameron's wife Samantha gave birth to their third child this week, he told the world it had all been 'very exciting'. Here we ask other famous fathers how they felt on the big day, and hear tales of stress, terror, medical emergencies - and pure joy
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The Independent Online

Toby Young. Age 42, writer. Father of Ludo, one, and Sasha, two

I was present for both births. When Sasha was born, my wife Caroline was induced. I left her in hospital about 11pm, when visiting hours ended, and I wasn't allowed to stay overnight. I got the summons at about 6am. When I arrived about 7am, it turned out she had been in labour for seven-and-a-half hours and had had quite a night of it. I did feel a bit shitty about that. She wanted me in the delivery room, but I had to sit in a corner with my back to the wall, so that I couldn't see what was happening. My wife didn't want me to see the baby actually being born, she was worried that it might permanently tarnish her sexual allure.

I sat taking notes on my laptop. I have a blow-by-blow account, which I've reproduced in my bookThe Sound of No Hands Clapping, coming out in September.

I really liked being handed the baby... she opened her eyes and I was the first person she saw. [But] I'd counsel any men in the same situation to at no stage say that they are at all exhausted or slightly tired, because their wives will remember and torture them with it for the rest of their lives.

Julia Stuart

Tony Parsons, 52, Writer. Father of Jasmine, three. He also has a grown-up son with his first wife, Julie Burchill

My daughter, Jasmine, was born six weeks early, at 34 weeks. My wife, Yuriko, had pre-eclampsia, so for more than a month we had been hanging on for as long as possible, with tests every day and constantly fretting about how big the baby would be.

In the end, the obstetrician told us it was time and, after all those weeks of anxiety, it was over very quickly. Yuriko had to have a Caesarean - and the funky young nurses told us to bring some music. By the time Jasmine came out, the first track on Chilled Ibiza Volume One hadn't finished.

I was unprepared for watching a Caesarean - you hear all this too-posh-to-push crap but, in fact, it's major abdominal surgery - it is a hell of a thing for a woman to go through, and lots of them have no choice. So to see Jasmine and to hold Jasmine was... magical is the only word.

She weighed under 4lbs, but she came out screaming. She had to be in an incubator for three weeks, so she went straight from our arms to the intensive care unit. But, once we held her, we knew that she was going to be fine. JS

Wayne Hemingway, 45, Fashion Designer. Wayne and Gerardine, the designers who founded Red or Dead, have four children aged eight, 15, 18 and 19

I was with my wife during all four births. It felt totally natural because it takes two to tango when it comes to babies. The world has opened up and changed since the time of my grandparents or even my parents. It used to be frowned upon for a man to be emotional. Today, I'd say it takes a cold man not to show his emotions at the birth of his child.

You think you can stand there and help by holding her hand, but they must hate you at that moment when they're giving birth.

Our first child was born during the World Cup 1986 and I arranged for a space by the bed to put a television. We managed to watch at least two matches during the labour. Our third child was also born during the World Cup, in 1990. I remember watching a match in the Red or Dead store and having to leave because Gerardine went into labour. For me to break away from an England match shows how emotional the birth of a child is. We planned everything together when we had our first child, but you become more relaxed with time. Our fourth child hasn't even been christened yet.

Danielle Demetriou

Shane Osborne, 36, Chef and owner of Pied-a-Terre, Charlotte Street, London, W1. Became a father 13 months ago when his partner Julia Miller, a carpenter, gave birth to Rose

I was present at Rose's birth and it was the most fantastic thing in the world. Julia had a really difficult time. She was in labour for three days and had to have an emergency Caesarean. You do feel a bit like a spare tit during a birth because they're in so much pain and there's nothing the father can do to help. I was there holding her hand the whole time - apart from one quick trip home for a shower.

At the end, when they had to perform the Caesarean, they put up a screen so you couldn't see what was going on, which was probably a good thing. As a chef I'm not particularly squeamish and you'll generally find my hand up a grouse's arse every November and December. But it's a different matter when it comes to your girlfriend on the table.

I was the first person to hold Rose when they lifted her out of the womb. I put her on my shoulder and it was the most amazing feeling. Julia was exhausted after the birth as you'd expect, absolutely shattered. But it was the best thing that ever happened. I've never been so happy.

Danielle Demetriou