Me sick, her slipping in and out of consciousness: pretty normal night out, really

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The Independent Online

It was just after two in the morning when Stacey dug me in the ribs to tell me that it was happening.

It was just after two in the morning when Stacey dug me in the ribs to tell me that it was happening. As I was fast asleep I initially had problems working out what she meant and wondered whether she might be claiming her annual marital rights. It turned out to be far more serious; she'd gone into labour. Within an hour I'd stumbled out of bed, managed to get into the car, and we roared off to hospital in Oxford. There is not much place for men in a maternity ward. Fifteen-year-old girls, heavily pregnant, stumble past you on their way for a cigarette. They glare at you, as though you were responsible for their predicament. A few yards further on, heavily tattooed mothers and fathers stare at you as though you were a potential rapist. Signs everywhere warn about baby snatchers, and you are only allowed through doors after weird interrogations through intercoms.

We were ushered into a windowless bunker known as the Terry Waite Room where Stacey was immediately offered a heady cocktail of drugs ranging from the slightly disturbing-sounding gas and air up to the full whammy of an epidural. I was given a cup of coffee and told to try to stay out of the way unless I was going to be sick, in which case, could I leave the room?

I spent nervous hours staring at a poster that gave tips as to what to do to make delivery easier. It featured line drawings of the weirdy beardy couple from The Joy of Sex. In one, the man was clutching his partner in a strange wrestling move, keeping an almost psychotic level of eye contact as the Earth Mother dangled her nether regions into a small blow-up swimming pool. Another showed her swinging from side to side while holding on to the handles of an open door. Even bearded man looked a little lost in this one and contented himself with a stalker stare as he chanted some karmic nonsense.

After about nine or 10 hours of midwives and doctors shouting at him through what I had previously taken to be quite a private region of my wife, my unborn son was still refusing to budge. A decision was eventually made to perform a Caesarean section, and Stacey was wheeled into an operating theatre while I was handed a set of surgical clothing and told to get it on as fast as possible. I knew that the NHS was in difficulty but surely they weren't expecting me to carry out the operation? Apparently not, I was to play the idiot in this idiot/masked medics melodrama. A screen was set up over Stacey's tummy so that we couldn't see the workface and the operation began.

A masked assistant suddenly told me that I looked very much like that bloke off the telly with the big phone. I had to admit that I was the man who made his living in this undignified way. She proceeded to tell me that we had been to school together. Did I remember so and so? This wasn't really the time for Friends Reunited, especially as I had a sneaking suspicion that she was about to announce, mid-operation, that I had bullied her mercilessly and that I was responsible for the shattering nervous breakdown which had led to her faking her qualifications and leading a secret life as a bogus doctor.

Suddenly it was all over. Our son, Jackson, surrendered and came out with his hands up. Someone said that he was the spitting image of me. I took my comparison with a blood-spattered, cone-headed, screaming baldie with as much grace as I could muster. I felt sick, Jackson was screaming his head off and Stacey was lapsing in and out of consciousness; a fairly typical Tuesday night for all of us.

The fake doctor asked me whether I had put his name down for our Alma Mater? I assured her that hell would freeze over before I would subject him to the nightmare of Stalag 15. Jackson must have heard because he suddenly stopped crying and gave me a gorgeous smile. I think we're going to get on.

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