Dads’ Survival Kit, part 1 – Hospital


After some encouragement from a friend we had our hearts set on an all-natural home birth for our first baby. The equipment had been delivered, tarpaulins had been purchased (blurgh) and we were totally psyched and ready to go.

Then, the coldest winter in 10 years struck (no comments please Canadians).

No sooner had I finished shaving in my new ‘dad beard’ than baby started to arrive.

The midwives wouldn’t attend home births in this weather, so.. a new plan! We would get a taxi to hospital.

We’d been told though that there was a 99% chance we’d be sent back home as labour probably wouldn’t be properly established. So.. a new plan! I would drive us to hospital and drive us back once they turned us away again. Simple.

A fine plan. Straightforward you might think. Until I got the car stuck halfway between our driveway and the road on the ice, completely blocking the pavement outside our house. So.. a new plan! We would abandon our car and get a taxi.

Aside from not being very civic-minded toward pedestrians this seemed like a good idea and we were on our way to hospital. Then I realised that in addition to leaving our car sprawled across the path outside our house I’d also forgotten to lock it. Hilarious. In hindsight. But I can’t say it helped me to remain calm.

This was not in the plan. Any of them.

They didn’t send us home. Labour continued slowly and shortly after midnight (24 hrs in) it seemed like we were going to be awake for a while. So, I rather smugly bought myself a large coffee presuming it would all be over soon, downed it and then promptly fainted.

As the midwives ran from my wife (who was receiving her epidural) to me with a wheelchair and ice chips in a cup, needless to say, I felt rather pathetic. This day was not turning out as I’d imagined.

Epidural led to emergency c-section (where bewilderingly I asked for a pamphlet to read before consenting on my drug-addled wife’s behalf). Goodness knows what I was thinking but this was not in the plan. Any of them.

I had the look of a man who should definitely not be trusted holding any baby.

Skip to the end and, praise the Lord, a healthy, happy baby popped out!  After 33 hours awake, the first pic of us as proud parents is not one we often share – I have the look of a man whose grooming regime involves hair margarine and white face paint and should definitely not be trusted holding any baby.

I (mostly) learnt from my copious mistakes with babies 2 & 3.  But to supplement my hard-won wisdom, I asked my friends for their ‘essential items’ when expecting baby’s arrival and here’s our combined top ten (ok 12)!

I present to you the Dads’ Survival Kit, part 1 – Hospital:

  1. Memorise your wife/partner’s plan A, plan B and plan C for labour.
  2. Energy food / drink / coffee!
  3. Mobile phone / digital camera with lots of free memory and battery chargers.
  4. Lots of cash / loose change – for car parks, vending machines, etc.
  5. Shorts – hospitals are hot! / change of clothes / swimwear for water birth.
  6. Music & headphones / speakers.
  7. Toiletries / toothbrush & toothpaste – I washed my hair in a hospital toilet sink, that was a low point.
  8. Pillow – hospitals are really uncomfortable places and you may be there a long time!
  9. List of everything wife/partner has packed in her bags and exact location of items in those bags. Utter genius – I need this on a daily basis.
  10. Draft text message ready to announce birth (before someone beats you to it on social media!)
  11. Disregard for personal appearance.
  12. Whisky.


By Si Cook (and survivor friends)