When you are about to escort a convoy down to Kuwait, through a country that is thoroughly less pleasant, your employer (the one with the green or brown dress code) gives you a series of ‘actions on’. These are a series of actions (duh) to be taken if a particular event happens. So, there are actions on vehicle breakdown, actions on getting a puncture, actions on loss of communications and actions on separation from the convoy. Then, in great depth, there are actions on contact with the enemy (that means getting shot at. Not sending a text). What to do if contacted from the front, from behind, from the left or right, from the left and right at the same time. Actions on getting vehicle immobilised by an IED, taking casualties THEN getting contacted from both sides (I was never truly convinced that one was survivable without outside intervention, either armoured, gunship or divine).
Well, I’d like to think that the training worked (thankfully most of it wasn’t needed). The constant drilling of actions on meant I felt I had a mindset of preparedness. Before a patrol I knew what kit I needed to get ready. Then during it I always knew where each piece of kit I had responsibility for was. I knew where the spare batteries were for the comms, at what time they were likely to go flat and what to do if they broke. I knew if we were to come to an explosive halt which bag I would grab, what my comrades were expected to do, which way to exit the vehicle under multiple different scenarios and what to do when I got out out. By reducing as many as possible scenarios to a drill meant vital, life saving, actions would happen as swiftly as possible, and the soldiers’ capacities to use initiative and problem solve was available to deal with anything truly unforeseen.
Now, Monique is 33 weeks pregnant and I want to get myself into a similar state of preparedness. I will always be able to visualize where the car and front door keys are, the route to the hospital, where we will park and how many steps to negotiate. We want to have a home birth (which is only OK to have after 37 weeks apparently); so if an ambulance needs to come (God forbid) I will know how they will get in and out. I want to, no, sorry, make that I NEED to know about each stage of the labour, so if I can have a role to play, no matter how small, I can get prepared to play it perfectly.
Having the baby will not be a dangerous as being in Iraq, but I want to be better prepared now than I was then. Because this isn’t a convoy of trucks going to Kuwait. This is my wife and child.