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Three’s company

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The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

All going to plan Frankie and Éamon will have a baby brother or sister in the New Year.
Aisling is eight months pregnant, and Frankie reckons Santa is going to deliver a baby on Christmas Day. We’re trying our best to put a good word in with Santa to stall the ball until January.
Aisling reckons I’m only doing it so the baby will have a very advantageous date of birth for sport! Perhaps I am, but I love Christmas too, and I don’t think either of us are keen on spending the Christmas in hospital.
Except, of course, it might just be Aisling in there if the baby arrived early.
The current restrictions on partners accompanying their wives or girlfriends to hospital for the delivery are among the many challenges of expecting in the middle of a pandemic.
Up until last week, partners were not allowed at any scans. That has been relaxed somewhat to allow partners attend the 20-week scan – the dreaded ‘anomaly scan’. The foetus is now developed enough for the sonographer to see whether development is going along expected lines. It’s a time when bad news could well be delivered. The need for the support of the partner for that procedure is considerable.
You can’t help but wonder how many expectant mothers went into that scan in recent months and were handed crushing news with no partner or relative there to support and comfort them. You’d also think of first-time mothers in particular who are experiencing this journey for the first time and could especially do with support.
Thankfully, Aisling’s anomaly scan went well, and so has every scan since then.
I wasn’t able to attend any of them in the hospital, so was missing out on the wonder of hearing the baby’s heartbeat and seeing its movement. After experiencing that with Frankie and Éamon, take it from me, that is a special moment.
Thankfully, there was another way. We had gone to a private ultrasound clinic in Castlebar for Frankie and Éamon, and a visit this time was a must.
The scans are high quality and provide extra reassurance. They also allowed me the magical experience of hearing the baby’s healthy heartbeat and seeing its face for the first time. We could see that this baby loves holding onto the umbilical cord, and so likely to be fond of blankets for comfort!   
When it comes to the birth it will be a different experience this time round too. Partners have to wait out in the car and can only come in when called when delivery is imminent.
At the best of times, men can feel useless than when they’re watching their partner endure labour. That can only be more so the case these days.
Once everything goes well, we won’t mind. We wouldn’t mind the baby being born after January 1 either!

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.