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Father of one (born 1990s), from North-West England

My son was a water-birth. On the whole we felt well-supported by the midwives, although they didn't seem particularly bothered either way whether I was there, to be honest. My then-wife was very brave and got through without much medication, apart from some gas and air towards the end, which made her sick afterwards, although she was pretty compus mentis throughout the labour itself. I remember very strongly the point where he emerged, and being shocked at the sight of him underwater. My instinct was to grab and save him, as if he would drown otherwise - but at the same time I saw how quiet he was, as if he was a water-creature and not quite human at all. It felt as if pulling him out of the water would wake him up, and that he might just like to stay there for a while. The midwife was very calm and methodical and that gave me a lot of reassurance - and it was such a relief to see him lifted up into his mum's arms, with the right number of limbs. At the time you're bothered about how your wife is, as much as by thinking about him in much detail. I was asked if I'd like to cut the cord, which I did - a nice ritual but not an especially emotional one for me...I've heard other dads say they were scared by this, or found it very moving. The bit where I got really emotional was a little while afterwards; his mum had been to vomit after all the gas-and-air and the staff were dealing with her - so I was left holding my son for the first time, all on my own. By this time his eyes were fully open and he was lying calmly, as if he was just taking everything in, staring up at me. Utterly dependent, an open book. His tiny fingers. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it even now - it's fixed in my memory like a moment in a film. An instant where the magnitude of becoming a parent really hit me for the first time. It changed everything.