We are all just a little apprehensive about giving birth – aren’t we?Especially for the first time. So, women want to hear real birth stories, right? All blood, placenta and episiotomies, yeah? (But then again, I wanted to bury my head in the sand and go into labour with my comfort blanket made of naivety and optimism.) Anyway, for those of you (crazy people) who want to hear real – this is my birth experience.
*Disclaimer: I was on drugs (namely diamorphine) during my birthing experience and therefore can not be held responsible for the accuracy of my memories *
Biggest pre-birthing fears
The truth: I was shitting myself, about shitting myself.
That is a real problem right there. Yes, yes, the midwifes and doctors have seen it all before… but my husband hasn’t! Divorce papers are in the post. I found the whole idea of the poo mortifying.
Number two (pun intended) was not being in control of myself. What if I found myself wailing around the hospital like a humongous, delirious, rabid elephant? Mortifying.
Number three, being cut. Who likes the sound of that? A scalpel down there! I didn’t know much about the process, I just knew it sounded down right scary and torturous.
My birthing plan:
I didn’t have one.
Well, in my head I sort of did. In my head, a nice, calm, midwife led, water-bath, natural birth was the dream birth. I would be serene, calm and collected, a goddess of natural birthing beauty, who absolutely nailed her relaxed breathing.
However, I decided not to do the official ‘birthing plan’ stating this, because everyone I knew that had ‘the plan’ sorted, was disappointed if they’d had to deviate from ‘the plan’. I wasn’t going to build myself up for a fall. I was going to be open minded and consider at the time what (drugs) was best for me and baby. And looking back, I’m glad of that decision.
To help with my birthing prep information gathering (in preparation to be a serene goddess) I did what every mum-to-be does and spent all my time Googling and Pinteresting stuff like labour, birth, postpartum and what to pack in my hospital bag. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was watching (specifically selected) One Born Every Minutes episodes – I mean that’s ‘real‘ isn’t it?
Post information gathering, I decided I’d quite like to have the option of having EVERYTHING, if I needed it. I mean, I wouldn’t dream of having a tooth pulled out without the option of SOMETHING to help me.
(Hint: Most important part of the birthing plan – a baby moon!)
Well, if serene, natural, relaxed breathing goddess was my aim (which it was), I failed at the first hurdle. I was induced (platelet issues…).
The Induction. Hadn’t given it much thought, I was just glad that we were getting the show on the road. This gladness was short lived. Having the pessary inserted, I’d been told, was ‘just like a tampon’, so no problems there then. Yeah right, a tampon that is the equivalent of a plastic razor blade! Sorry ladies, but you wanted honest reality. It bloody well hurt. At one point my husband said he thought I was actually going to jump straight off the bed.
And the worse bit? It didn’t work.
All it did do was make me more anxious about labour – if I can’t handle the pessary, how the hell am I going to handle pushing out an actual human?
Having my waters broken. With the failed induction under my belt, Thursday evening, it wasn’t until the Saturday morning (whole other story) that I was called in to have my waters broken… Surely, now we were definitely, finally, getting this show on the road…
I’m not going to lie, I was bricking it. A voice in the back of my mind was saying, ‘prepare yourself for this, it’s going to fucking hurt!’ However, it was actually ok. Don’t know why. Maybe, I was lucky, maybe already slightly dilated or maybe I had a great midwife; whatever it was, it was a pain free start to my labour at 11.56am (or sometime close to that). I couldn’t believe how much water there was – I was literally sat in a puddle – thank goodness I didn’t have to mop that off the living room floor!
Getting started. Failed induction – tick. Waters broken – tick. Drip in – tick. Magazine open – tick. Magazine read? Don’t be daft.
I got to about page three. I had prepared myself mentally for the long haul – approximately 1 cm an hour, so at least 10 hours, right? Building up to 5 minutes apart, or so? But to me (with absolutely no concept of time throughout the entire labour) the contractions already felt like they were coming thick and fast.
Contractions. I didn’t say much (that I can remember anyway) during labour; but I do remember saying, ‘That was the worse one yet!’ Only for my birthing partner, aka The Husband, to tell me, ‘No it wasn’t, that one only reached 70 on the monitor, the one before was stronger.’ Well, excuse me for not agreeing with the fucking monitor!
Following this, he asked the midwife, ‘Is this as bad as they get?’ She took one look at me and said, ‘No.’ Great.
She explained that, if she were to ask me a question now, I’d probably be polite and try and answer her, once they got as bad as they were going to get, I wouldn’t. Oh no… wailing, humongous, delirious, rabid elephant here we come!
It’s hard to explain what contractions feel like… a giant belt tightening around your waist (yep, I know, a belt of muscle is literally tightening around your waist, doh.) And the belt gets tighter every time. My mind was telling me – remember what the hypo-birthing book said: relax; tensing only makes it more painful; move about to find relaxing positions; breath through them like your surfing a wave…
Now, I’m in no way rubbishing hypo-birthing so please don’t get me wrong – but I was rooted to the spot and tensing (squeezing the life out of my hospital bed). Nothing and nobody was moving me. The midwife tried, she brought me over the giant bouncing ball thingy and everything. No. I actually couldn’t move. I like to think, I was maybe, in the hypo-birthing ‘zone‘.
As the contractions got worse, I had the diamorphine injection. If I wasn’t already in ‘the zone‘, I was then.
Zoned out, completely gone.
For the next however many hours, it went: contraction, sleep, contraction, sleep and repeat. I don’t know if the diamorphine reduced the pain or just knocked me out so I couldn’t complain about it in-between? And I’m not sure I care either way. (I am just thankful that no elephants were present at my birth.)
Pushing. I remember the overwhelming urge to push. Well, actually my body pushed and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The hubby pressed the buzzer; the midwife strolled in with a ‘no chance’ look on her face. ‘Do you want me to examine you?’ Well, doh!
I guess she was surprised, I wasn’t, that the baby was coming. She’d been insistent that he wouldn’t arrive on her shift – but I guess her luck was in! (I’m not sure the student doctor thought his luck was in though… shell shocked are the words I’d use to describe him by the end of the whole experience – especially when I heard her telling him to come and help down the business end!)
I have very little memory of ‘the pushing’ stage. I must have been doing it for a good while longer than it felt, but I haven’t any real concept of the time. I remember getting to a point where my contractions where slowing, I felt like there was an age between them. This made me anxious – was I doing it wrong? had I left it too long somehow? I was embarrassed that they were taking so long to come. Added to that the midwife was saying, ‘Push harder this time, otherwise I’m going to have to cut you and I don’t what to do that’ (platelet issues…)
At this point my Biggest Pre-birthing Fear Number 1 kicked in (the poo). This is how it went:
Me: I’m going to poo!
Midwife: No you’re not. Big push this time, baby’s getting tired.
Me: I’m going to poo!
I didn’t poo.
I did get cut.
(Episiotomy – actually ok, they used a local anaesthetic first, phew! I felt a big release of pressure and next thing (I knew about anyway) he was here.)
(knackered, drugged, blissfully happy)
*For any Daddy’s to be, a side note for you. My hubby has always been squeamish and had been very adamant he would NOT look down there. But in the overwhelming moments of child birth you will do whatever the midwife tells you to do. Midwife: look your baby’s head is coming. Hubby: looks. Hilarious.*
(Daddy, son precious first cuddles)
Six hours from broken waters to baby. I realise that’s relatively quick. And that’s the end of birthing story right there, yes? No.
Afterbirth and stitches. I had the injection, placenta came out after a bit of a tug. Too busy with baby (and still quite drugged up) to know much about it, apart from: No, I don’t want to see it, cheers very much.
Bit more local and the midwife was stitching me up, under the watchful gaze of a very shell-shocked student doctor. Bit weird hearing her giving him a running commentary of what she was doing, but I had my baby, I didn’t care.
(dressing my baby for the first time)
It was the strangest feeling that night, my hubby had gone home and I was on a ward of mummies and babies. My baby, still in a bit of shock, was sleeping soundly (didn’t last long mind) and all I could, and wanted to, do was stare at him. What the fuck has just happened? Is he really mine? Can I really take this person home?
Well, yep, we did and he’s been our little life changer ever since.
(*Unfortunately for me this wasn’t the end of my story… just three weeks later I was admitted to hospital for an ERPC – read about it here http://www.mymummymanual.com/2016/10/03/birth-the-nhs-and-those-who-work-within-it *)