My eldest turns 10 today so in honour of this momentous occasion I thought I’d recount the story of his birth and why we occasionally tease him about being from Louth. And besides, it is one of my favourite tales!
My wife Niki was due on 30th June 2009 so when we were invited to a friend’s wedding on 12th June I saw it as my last opportunity to let off some steam before my duties as maternity taxi driver kicked in. I knew that firstborns were usually late so I thought it would be probably at least 3 weeks without booze so I planned to make up for it on this joyous occasion. The location was Nuremore Hotel near Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan. I happened to be very familiar with the venue as I had been a country member at the golf club there when the exorbitant fees of clubs in the Dublin area sent me further afield for my fix of fairways and greens!
The day was a very pleasant one and from what I can remember the ceremony, food, company and in particular the red wine were very agreeable. Once the meal was over Niki and I hit the dancefloor hard and in hindsight, the excessive gyrations to Valerie by Amy Winehouse and various other tunes probably had something to do with events in the early hours of the following morning. Not that we went completely overboard I mean we gave “Rock the Boat” a miss! Also given the late stage of Niki’s pregnancy we did retire at a fairly reasonable hour, so I drifted into a happy slumber of the well imbibed. Then the real “fun” began!
Niki woke me at c. 2.30am complaining that she had some form of food poisoning which was causing severe stomach cramps. Knowing how particular Niki had been about her food intake during pregnancy and the quality of the fare on offer in Nuremore I knew this was highly unlikely but in my addled state I wasn’t overly sure of anything. To my shame I initially tried to convince her to sleep it off but when that didn’t work we settled on ringing the Rotunda for advice. It was only when Niki had to hand over the phone to me while speaking to a mid-wife because the pain was so severe that we realised that something was really amiss. The mid-wife stated quite clearly that it sounded like my wife was having contractions and was in fact in labour and that we should make as swift progress as possible to the nearest maternity hospital. So not the Rotunda in Dublin I bleated, no Drogheda I was informed, but what about our costly consultant, tough luck was the response! Then of course we had the issue of getting to Drogheda which was about 40 km away. We were having an argument about whether I (very inebriated) or Niki (in labour with contractions every couple of minutes) should drive, when luckily one of us (take a guess who) had some sense and sought out advice on the matter. As we made our way back downstairs the wedding was still in full swing but luckily we knew that one of the guests at our table happened to be a mid-wife. She had also retired to bed but thankfully was easily woken from her sleep when we came banging on her door. She confirmed what we already suspected about our situation and most importantly ordered us a taxi (thanks Deirdre).
I do remember that the taxi driver was more than a little anxious when he saw his passengers and was told that our destination was Drogheda maternity hospital. Perhaps this encouraged him to drive in a manner that Lewis Hamilton would have been proud of. He was certainly motivated by Niki’s heavy breathing routine in the back-seat. Less than half an hour later we were at our destination. The staff at Drogheda hospital were very nice to Niki, they were less so to her drunk husband. Every nurse / mid-wife / doctor was sent to observe the sozzled, eejit, husband from Dublin who had just been to a wedding. The rest of the labour is a bit of a blur, but I do remember a bath (not for me) and I do remember a gym ball (also not for me) and not much else. At this point I should point out the Niki was using a birthing technique called hypno-birthing which involves focusing on the contractions and working with them rather than against them. It did involve watching some pretty graphic DVDs at a lady’s house in Castleknock but that’s another story. It also meant that Niki wouldn’t be using any form of unnatural pain relief which again brought huge admiration from the assemble mid-wives and seemed to increase the level of scorn for yours truly! Well the hypno-birthing worked pretty damn well because shortly after 10am (after only 8 hours of labour) Aaron John Doyle arrived into the world. Well he didn’t have a name initially because we were still in our name deciding phase but nothing like the arrival of a baby to focus minds. Our world changed forever thereafter.
As an epilogue to this tale when I dragged my very sorry body back home via a very excited Nuremore Hotel I found that my father-in-law had removed the blinds from our bedroom at home, making it almost impossible to catch up on some much needed sleep that afternoon and thus prolonging my hangover that little bit longer. He claimed it was something to do with re-fitting our bedroom but I had my doubts!!