It's been a few weeks since my last post, and for good reason.

Work's been really busy and I've been fortunate to work on some great projects and to collaborate with some exciting companies led by inspirational entrepreneurs. That's partially why I've not been in the right frame of mind to keep my personal blog up to date much recently.

The other reason, for those of you who are tuned in may have guessed based on the timing, is that on the 4th April, 2011 at 6.11am, we welcomed Rudi Brook Schofield into the world. Weighing in at a respectable 7lb5oz and measuring 49cm in length, our beautiful little boy was a picture of perfect health - much to our relief and delight.

The story of his birth, one I've told umpteen times to our friends and family, but one that I hope when captured here in my blog, will live on forever. I wish my parents could have had this kind of tool available when I came about. They may well have captured their thoughts or feelings of the time, perhaps in a notepad, scrapbook or diary, but if they did I'm not sure it exists anymore. Obviously, nothing can beat your parents stories straight from their own mouths, but as in my case, when my father passed away, it would have been great to have even more of his memories captured for my future consumption.

This is but the beginning of Rudi's story.

Rudi was due on Sunday 3rd of April, but despite trying most of the recommended "inducing techniques" - spicy food, raspberry leaf tea, fresh pineapple, long walks (you know which one is missing) by the close of play on the Sunday, there were no signs that he'd be making an appearance any time soon. Convinced that we would be looking at upto 10 more long and dragging days of waiting, we went to bed that night a family of 2 adults, 2 bassets and a bump for the very last time.

At round 12.50am, Cas awoke, feeling a little dodgy, with some stomach problems. After a few minutes on the toilet (not wanting to be too graphic) it became evident that something else was going on, not sure what, but something. I'm not entirely sure what Cas did for the next 40 minutes ir so, but I think it involved more trips to the toilet and standing in front of our full length mirror in the bedroom looking at the bump.

I woke at around 1.30am, to find Cas in the latter position. Not knowing what was going on or even what time it was, I asked if everything was OK. With a slightly excited but nervous tinge to her voice, Cas explained that she thought it might be time - that she was starting to experience the signs of early onset of labour. There was only one thing to do, something any englishman worth his salt would do - wake up and go and make a cup of tea.

We monitored what were some twinges and movements, which very quickly formed into "mild" contractions. Those mild contractions got steadily more intense, but were quick - 30 to 40 seconds. They were also frequent, typically every 4 minutes. Remembering that 1 minute contractions every five minutes for an hour is the "call the hospital benchmark" we were unsure what our situation meant. Not wanting to panic and be too eager to go to the hospital, we went and got out the Tens machine that we'd been given.

What a kerfuffle. I successfully installed the system on the patient, but left the operation to Cas. She couldn't get how it worked at all, regardless of my many thorough and non-patronising demonstrations. In the end, it was tossed aside and discarded as a method of pain relief - much to my relief as teaching Cas to use a gadget whilst in labour was about the most stressful part of the whole thing!

Instead, we also passed time by downloading the BabyBump app for iOS. This enabled me to avidly track the contraction time stats  and feed back the results to Cas. I also took a few not very flattering profile pictures, to use on the app's profile picture page - but we wont go there (unless I receive a decent offer from OK magazine or something!).

After an hour or so, we were still non-the-wiser how far along we were - but presuming that it was merely the start of a lengthy process. Keen to stay relaxed, Cas kept mobile wandering around upstairs, and finding a comfortable position as possible for each contraction - ranging from kneeling, bending over, sitting on the toilet and lying flat. After one trip to the toilet, Cas identified a small amount of clear discharge, which suggested that her waters may have started or had broken. It was at this stage that we decided to phone the hospital.

After explaining the nature of the contractions and going through the checklist provided by the midwife at our antenatal classes, the midwife on duty suggested that the contractions should really have been longer and more intense than those we were reporting to warrant the 30 minute drive to Dorchester hospital. She recommended a hot bath, some exercises and other relaxation techniques. That would have been the end of the call and easily no more said, expcept I chose to mention the discharge we had seen, albeit very minor. To this, the midwife changed her mind and suggested that if we suspected that the waters had broken, then we should start to make our way to the hospital as they would want to check Cas over. We were on.

Again, partly because we were sure it was so early on and partly because we just didn't want to be one of those panicky paranoid couples, we leisurely prepared ourselves and a slow and calm pace. Grabbing the prepacked bags, sorting out the dogs, packing the car, we eventually set off for the hospital at around 4.15am.

By this time, it was clear that the contractions were getting more intense and remaining consistently at 3 to 4 minute intervals. We arrived at the hospital after (if I do say so myself) some very sympathetic driving and unlike most days we'd visited before, had the pick of the parking spaces. Heading gingerly up to the maternity ward, a midwife exiting for a cigarette break said "they're expecting you up there".

On first examination, rather than what we were expecting to here - "1cm, go home, don't be so silly!" - we found that Cas was 7cm dilated and things were moving steadily along. With a fairly thin cervix, it was expected that the last 3cm would go quite quickly. It was 4.40am.

Rigged up to a heart monitor, everything was checked out ok, it was just a matter of time. We were not far away, and it appears, arrived at the hospital just in time...