This child of mine did not have an easy journey into this world. But which child does? What a shockingly traumatic experience. I am quite claustrophobic myself. Have you ever been inside narrow caves or passageways in old castles? Those place horrify me. Now, imagine your child’s journey through your pelvic floor with its tiny passage and bones making the journey extra difficult. These brave little ones take on a treacherous journey and at best get welcomed with light beaming into their face, air rushing into their lungs, cold and dry air enveloping their little bodies. Everything so unfamiliar. On the unfortunate event of an old-school midwife or doctor, they get welcomed with a slap on their tiny bottom. On worse occasions yet, they emerge and all of a sudden are unable to breathe and get rushed from hands to hands to be rubbed with a coarse towel or rushed to NICU. Being born is a trauma we have all gone through, yet the trauma of the child is very rarely acknowledged. Sure, we don’t remember it, but who is to say it does not affect us later in life? I digress.
Child of mine took 16,5 hours to make his journey. He (it’s a boy – well done!) started to make a move on the day he was due. Apparently, only 5% of children are born on their due date. We did not fit that statistic as he was born a day after. I went to see my ob-gyn as a regular check-up. As the birth was imminent, she hooked me up to machines that measured baby’s heart rate and my contractions. I lay there attached to the machines, listening to my baby’s fast heartbeat that sounded like galloping horses. I felt uncomfortable, huge and needed to pee. Nothing out of the ordinary.
When I went to talk to the doctor afterwards, she told me I was in labour with a blaze look on her face. Labour?!??!! Now? Already?!! Why can’t I feel it?
Ladies (and gentlemen), I had no idea I was in labour. It turns out you cannot always feel the start of it, but she told me I was further along than the start after poking my va-china with her rubber-glove clad manicured fingers. Like nothing had happened, she told me to go home and call her when I think I need to go to the hospital. What?!?
I suppose the ob-gyn does this daily and it is nothing new. But I was freaking out and could not just go home. Sadly she did not feel it’s important to calm me down or explain things to me.
So, in labour, I walked home in the sweltering heat of the summer. I got home and still felt nothing but hunger. Since I was told I was in labour I decided that I should not cook under any circumstances, so I ordered McDonald’s. It arrived and the thought of it was much better than it actually was, as always. I ate my burger at around 3pm and sat down to do some work. I did not feel the need to take maternity leave weeks before baby was due. I kept working till it was time to go to hospital. What else should I have done? I must also mark here that my dear husband did not reply his phone for hours and I could not give him the panicked phone call I had imagined for so long. “Dude, I am in labour. COME HOME NOW!” Didn’t happen. Instead, he walked in at some point and I just normally told him from my position on the sofa that I was in labour. I loved the look of panic on his beautiful face at that moment.
A couple of hours went by and I started to feel slight pain. Similar to period pain. That pain kept getting worse and worse and worse. My husband had gone to bed to rest from a long day and get ready for a few long weeks. I stayed in the living room to deal with my pain. I took pillows from bedroom and organised them on the sofa, so I could lie there and hug them with my butt in the air. At some point I cut open some grapefruit, but never got round to eating it. It was still on the coffee table when we got back from the hospital. Fermented grapefruit.
Fitness ball helped a bit, so I bounced on it for a while. I paced up and down the room, tried sleeping and hugging more pillows. When I could no longer take it, around 12 midnight, I told my husband it was time to go.
He got up, grabbed the hospital bag I had packed and unpacked so many times in anticipation, thinking I would miss things or have too many. In the end I had too many things I didn’t need and not enough of what I needed. More on that later.
My water broke as soon as I sat in the car. What a cliché. It did not feel like peeing. It just felt like leaking. We had no tissues in the car so I mopped it up with some of my husband’s work documents.
The drive to hospital was pretty normal. Little traffic as it was midnight and not much panic at all. Thus far everything was going without my anticipated panic. I blame Hollywood films for creating a lot of false expectations when it comes to pregnancy and labour. I was given a wheelchair at the hospital and because it was a private hospital my husband had to take care of some paperwork while I was taken to the labour room. I had also called my doctor before leaving home and she soon arrived.
When she walked in I was leaning over the bed sat on a fitness ball and in excruciating pain. The pain felt like a thousand little leprechauns inside my belly kicking it as if to open a door. It was a sharp but spread out pain.
The doctor asked me to get on the bed to check me. She did not tell me she was going to cause me unimaginable pain. She squeezed her fingers into my va-china and basically scooped out a whole lot of slime and liquid. All I could do was scream and tell her to stop and try and push her hand away. It didn’t work. I could hear sounds of gushing and slobbery liquid and suddenly the bed felt wet. This was one of the 3 most horrible things during my childbirth. When she was done I got up again only to get down on the fitness ball. The bed was changed and lots of plasticky material was added under the sheets.
My husband soon appeared and I got back into bed. I got hooked to the machine that measures contractions and it only showed such tiny numbers. The not very helpful ob-gyn told me the real pain has not started yet. I did not fathom how she could say such things when I had already reached my pain limit. Looking at those numbers was depressing, so I stopped. The teachings of my ante-natal class went out of the window. Breathing what? Calm thoughts what? It doesn’t work when the pain is so overwhelming. I was also so hungry, but the doctor told me not to eat.
Time seems to go exceptionally slow while in labour. In actual reality time seemed to move quite fast. At around 2 or 3 am the ob-gyn came and asked me if I wanted some drugs or an epidural.
Before labour I was determined to keep it as natural as possible. I was certain that I was a strong woman and needed no drugs. Giving birth cannot be so hard. Everyone has done it. Cave women did it with no pain or doctors.
Well, I am no cave woman I tell you. When the real labour pain arrived, all my pre-conceived ideas of how this will go down were forgotten. My thinking changed completely. So what if I get some pain relief? Will that make me less of a woman or a worse mother?
I opted for an epidural. It was the best and worst decision I could have made. I believe it made the labour extra long and difficult for baby, but maybe not. It relieved my pain and calmed me right down.
Putting in the epidural was the 2nd most horrible thing to happen to me during labour. The anesthetic shot that is administered before the epidural goes in did not work. There was no time to wait as epidural can only be put in place in a certain time window. I had to sit on the bed with my back crouched. When poked into my spine, my reaction was to leap up. So my husband and two nurses had to hold me down while the anesthesiologist inserted a tube into my spine with no pain relief. I screamed like an animal. This was worse than labour pain.
But when it was in place and started to work, I felt nothing. Frankly I felt high and super relaxed. I wish I hadn’t felt like it. I now feel like my baby was working hard while I was chilling out high in epidural. Now we had to wait for me to dilate enough to start pushing. It did not happen quickly enough, so they administered oxytocin to start the process. In the meantime the machine measuring contractions was now showing large numbers, but I felt nothing. Nurses kept coming and going, but I was still not ready.
Finally, at 9 am it was time to start pushing. As I had an epidural, I could only give birth on my back, working against the gravity. I could not hold my legs, so my husband and a nurse held them. My husband did such a good job that he slightly dislocated my hip. He also kept encouraging me so much that I got annoyed and told him to shut up. I just wanted to push and get it done and not hear any encouraging words.
I did not know how to push. The Eastern European doctor told me: “Push like you are doing kaka!!!!!” So pushing a baby out should feel the same like pushing out a large piece of turd. How very lovely. She kept telling me I was pushing wrong. That I was pushing into my face and not into my va-china. Ladies, please ask your midwives how to push before you go into labour. It was supposed to be natural, but I did not know how or where to push.
When I got the hang of it I started to push with all my might. Everything but a baby came out. I am sure I peed and pooped myself multiple times. I started to regret that McDonald’s now. The doctor was very welcoming of my husband to have a look at me from all angles, so he saw everything. He doesn’t seem to mind and still seems to love me the same despite having seen me poop.
I pushed and pushed and the baby did not want to come. The doctor now started to look worried and I got worried when I saw her hands covered in blood. That is totally normal. She told me the baby’s heart rate is dropping and he needs to come out now. So, frightened, I gave it some major pushes, helped along with some grunts and screams. I was afraid a vein in my head will explode.
When the head emerged, she took my hand to it and I could feel a squidgy piece of skin, which was my baby’s head. That did give me so much strength.
The baby’s heart rate kept dropping and he had the umbilical cord around his neck. In order to make sure they baby is OK, she quickly grabbed her scalpel and gave me an episiotomy. This is a fancy word for a cut between your vagina and anus. Women often get torn there naturally. I was given a long cut, which kept bleeding for weeks afterwards and which now looks like a long blue line reminding me of the day the child of mine was born. She grabbed a ventouse and helped the baby out.
Once out, she put the baby on my chest and husband and I burst out into tears. What an incredible thing. A living, breathing human being came out of my va-china from a seed that lived in my husband’s ball sack. Mother Nature, you crazy thing.
Baby was quickly removed from my chest and the cord cut faster than I thought it would be. His heart rate was still low and he was taken a few metres away to help him. This was a very scary couple of minutes. I saw him at the other end of the room. He was rubbed with a towel, snot sucked out of his mouth and nostrils. I kept asking if he is OK, but nobody said anything. A few moments of deafening silence. When I heard him cry it was all back to happy tears and in a few moments my brand new baby boy was placed on my chest.
Share your birthing story in the comments below!
PS: whoever came up with the term ‘birth plan’?