So the ‘natural birthers’ out there set the bar blady high for the rest of us squiff-cervix, baby has a fat head, little sucker’s breeched or run out of amniotic fluid, emergency Caesar kinda gals. Hats off to them though because any birth is not for sissies, and I have to agree with OBB 2 on the previous blog – whichever way your baby leaves the comfort of your womb (natural or Caesar) – there will be pain whether it be before or after … and real pain not #pain.
Because my little sissy had sneezed her first born out, I thought “I’ve got this!” and prepared my vagina’s mind for a natural birth. That faithful Sunday arrived, a week after my rat’s due date (which happened to be a leap year, 29 Feb 2016, so no wonder she stuck it out for so long) and I had my head in the game.
Contractions started 6am with 3 minutes between each one and I thought: – Ok, so antenatal classes have sold us a lemon – these are not 10 minutes apart, ‘pack your bags and wobble on over to hospital’ kind of contractions – these just ‘boyah-ed’ us with some speed and regularity and my waters hadn’t even broken yet. So, I had a quick shower, said farewell to life as we knew it, left home and headed to hospital to meet the Doula whom, in our minds, would whisper the baby out of my vagina and into the world. #shittershownaïve.
So here’s the highlights package; a week overdue, a 4kg fat baby, traces of meconium (baby drops one (poos) in the womb and then there is danger of it ingesting the meconium), aaaaaand a squiff cervix – there was not a stuff that rat was leaving through the main bomber doors but rather via ejection seat.
We weren’t going down without a fight though. Oh my eff did we walk stairs in that hospital; up down, up down, up down, stopping on each contraction to do a sort of strange hula hula motion while I hung desperately off my hubby’s neck. He stood awkwardly looking around while I groaned and whispered out the odd “ooooooooh my f%*k”. All this, in a futile effort to get my waters to break on their own before the nurse launched the crochet needle up there to get things cooking with gas. With this forced water-breaking, came contractions that were ready to kill a man and at one point I remember thinking … death … that would be nice.
On the topic of having a Doula – look, I’m not the biggest hippy out there; I wear shoes, brush my hair and shave my pits on the odd occasion so her purpose was to support two totally shit-scared soldiers in battle and that she did! She was absolutely amazing, even post Caesar, and both my conservative, non-hippy hubby and I would recommend a Doula for a first birth. (Topic for a later stage).
One very memorable moment for me was when our Doula suggested we hit the hospital shower to relieve a bit of the pain. Butt naked, on all fours, facing away from the running water, mock charging up a storm, the odd projectile vomit and contractions taking me down to China town, I looked back. There sat my loyal, incredible husband, in his baggies, under the hot, running shower. As he stared into the ‘abyss’, he squeezed my pelvis together every time I warned that a contraction was about to beat me into submission. The purpose of this exercise was to relieve some contraction pain but as soon as he heard the warning he would squeeze and then either move to the left or right juuuuust incase the chocolate starfish started talking to him.
With your first pregnancy, everyone and their cat has the best advice to bring on labour; eat a hot curry, drink Pineapple juice, stimulate the koek with olive oil – yes I know, I laughed at that one too, pomp (sex) … pomp some more. And the whole time you are thinking – shit, that’s what got me into this mess in the first place so it is ironic that it is now going to fix the problem. One thing I can say is that despite all the efforts to bring on labour your baby will rock and roll when it is ready and that is the best advice I could possible give.
Trying to rush it just makes you anxious and impatient. I know how heavy going it is, especially when you are a week overdue; the water retention is killer – feet that look like you have blown up surgical gloves, double chin on your existing double chin, back pain, piles – siff siff siff but seriously rushing the baby does nothing for your mental state. So anyway back to the point of this blog …
So picture this … it’s Sunday afternoon, I am 7cms dilated, no epidural and eyeballs deep in contractions. With every breath I manage to muster up, I let out a “Please can I have an epidural”, contraction, “I want an epidural!”, contraction, “Give me an epidural”, contraction, “Epidural hello!”, contraction, “Epi.effing.dural!”. And obviously because it is late Sunday, anesthetists have their own shizzle to do other than jabbing me in the back to bring back my soul from a dark place.
On the 7th phone call they managed to bring in the saint that took my breathe away. That epidural was like a million orgasms rolled into a thick needle and I would have married her on the spot! The timing of it was horrendous though because as I settled in to deep breathing again and I finally opened my eyes after an hour, our gynae walked in, checked the cervix, dropped the bomb that we were blown and we were on our way to testing out a new kind of birth … emergency Caesar.
My cervix had swollen down to about 2cms and the rat was trying to push its way down a badly angled tunnel – it was over. “Book an emergency Caesar this baby needs to come out right now.” And all I could think was, ‘I wonder if we can get hold of this epidural over the counter’.
Now I don’t want to scare you about a Caesar so I will refrain from any gory details as I maybe possible be one of the more squeamish folk so even typing about it makes me swoon at the desk. The point of this blog wasn’t really to yack on about how chaotic birth can actually be it was more to acknowledge how hard I found it in the beginning having had an emergency Caesar after wanting a natural so here goes …
The pressures of having a natural birth are as real as they come, and for good reason. Not to say a Caesar is a secondary kind of birth but there is a lot more to the recovery time, post your little rat busting out into the world – I actually think it may be the harder of the two. As I mentioned, I am also squeamish so major abdominal surgery did not suit me in the slightest and for about 4 weeks after the birth, I was still pushing panamor suppositories (pain meds) up the ol’bumholio so it just added to the one million things you are already having to multitask with like nothing on earth.
It took a few weeks to actually get over an emergency Caesar, physically and mentally, and for some moms they never get over what they see as “failure”. But it’s not failure. And to be totally honest, at the end of the day, no one reaaaaallly gives a shit how it comes out because your battles to come are SO SO SO much bigger than your child’s entry into the world. To name several of the life changing fights; sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep. So if you can just take that into consideration when you relive the missed opportunity of natural birth and the feelings that you harbor for a long time post-birth, that latent disappointment is REALLY not worth the kak feeling nor is it worth the energy. You need to tackle your newborn head on and when your mind is feeling weak, your body follows in close pursuit. You end up battling to breastfeed, you’re tired and your head just isn’t in the game which makes you unconfident with your child – trust me. So if you are an emergency Caesar story and you are carrying around that sense of “what if I had a different gynae”, “what if I had stayed at home a little longer or walked more stairs or pomped once more” – bin those thoughts RIGHT NOW and get a move on with the bigger picture. Your baby needs you, your hubby has no clue what the eff has just hit your lives and most importantly you need to know that you have absolutely rocked it to get this rat into the world!
I am up for round 2 at the end of November and this time I am electing to have a Caesar. The thought of going through labour again, only to have a Caesar makes my vagina want to close up for life. I think the biggest thing about birth is managing your expectations and when you say ‘you aren’t fussed about the way it comes out, as long as it is healthy’ – do your very best to actually believe it! And as my parting words of advice, and introduction to our next blog post, you are stronger and smarter than those suckers (newborns) so don’t let them take you down. Sleep be with you!
Birth Story – 3min read
OBB 1: “Words by OBB 2 who sneezed those suckers out.”
OBB2: “Shit, ja the longest, most painful sneeze of my life!”
I have always been a sucker for anything birth, babies and pregnancy related! From a small rat, my mother relayed that I was drawn to pregnant ladies, their baby boeps and babies. To date, I am that creep that loves to touch a preggy tummy (obviously I’ll suss out the vibe first and not just go in for the kill), and the one that wants to listen to every detail of your birth story down to the minute you thought you were in labour. I am also that person that can’t wait to give your baby a cuddle and that loves the challenge of settling your new born if it is fussing. So, when the time came for my own birth story, I was ready to rock and roll with a natural birth.
12 April 2015, I was re-enamelling our old-school bath, as you do at 35 weeks pregnant. Prior to starting the preparation for the bath, which took about 2 hours, my hubcap (husband) and I had just had a huge barney (fight) over the blady thing.
Me: “Bub, I have been putting this off for weeks. I just want to get this bath done before the baby arrives and I run out of steam.”
Hubcap: “I just want to relax and watch the Masters … please!”
Eventually, he felt bad, looking at my big boep, and offered to help but by that stage, my preggy rage had kicked in and I was sooooo stubborn and decided to do it myself. I slugged away at the bath and half way in, I stood up to mix more paint … my water broke! Not just a trickle, a movie-stylepuddle- at-my-feet kind of water breaking.
Hubby, who was having a nice little dos on the couch, woke up to me screaming down the passage “BUUUUUUUUB … I think my water has just broken!”. The look on his face when he saw me with a mask over my mouth, roller brush in hand and water at my feet was priceless and, I must admit, I quite enjoyed the “I told you so” feeling that came over me. I could see he felt really terrible for not helping me with the bath but smugness aside – we were both pretty shocked.
I could not stop worrying about my bath enamel drying out before I had a chance to finish it! So, I resumed my position in the bath and carried on painting. Hubcap came in with absolute disbelief and snatched the roller out of my hand. “Are you nuts my Best? Go and pack. I’ll do this”. I still claim my half of the bath looks much better then his.
Obviously we had no baby bags packed yet and I can confidently confirm that the advice of having a bag ready is a solid piece of info. The panic was absolutely nothing like in the movies. I bathed. Hubby made himself some coffee and watched the rest of the golf. As we calmly cruised around the house, got organised and left for PE, we had very little knowledge that in a few hours time the birthing reactment would be in full swing; swearing, weird animal noises and ugly tearless crying face.
1 cm dilated and I still wasn’t really feeling any pain. The sensation was ‘ants walking on my belly’. Settling into the labour ward, we waited in disbelief that we were going to potentially meet our baby in a few hours, a whopping 5 weeks before it was due. Ignorantly, we thought “BONUS”. There are obviously a few risks of having a prem baby and things got a bit real when they gave me a steroid injection to develop the babies lungs.
Hubster was taken on a tour of the NICU, just in case our prem baby needed to stay there for a few days. I slowly started to make peace with the increasingly pressing contractions which felt like the “period pain” sore (a definitely downgrade from the “walking ants”).
I looked over at Hubster, who was torn between the t.v, watching the last few holes to see who had won the Masters, and frantically reading the baby book I had been asking him to look at for months. I killed myself laughing: “Boet, I think it’s a bit late for that!”.
The contractions were now starting to let me know who was boss so I breathed through each one. The midwife checked again and I was 5 cms dilated. The pain, at this point, was sore but still manageable and I was offered an epi dural on a silver platter as if I was ordering a cuppaccino. On the back of the advice the midwife had given me, saying this was the tip of the ice berg and it was only going to get worse, I said bring on the epi!
By the time they had moved me to the birthing room- things started hotting up. The contractions were getting fiercly stronger and I was doing my best to get my head in the game. It is the strangest thing having no control over what your body is doing or the freaking strange, animal-like sounds and swear words that come out of your mouth.
Rolling like a mad woman on the pilates ball, I looked up at a shell shocked Hubcap and pleaded in a high pitched, goat-like voice “heeeeelp me … heeeelp me … kill meeee”. My one arm was stretched out towards him like Jack from Titanic on the floating door and my wide-eyed Hubster let out a very desperate “Oh my F*%k!”. Being a goat and sheep farmer, I could see for a minute he was thinking about doing the honourable thing; reaching for his leatherman and ‘slagging’ (Afrikaans accent) my throat rather than letting me suffer. The midwife entered timeously and the leatherman was returned to the holster.
The acceleration was ridiculous. Where the eff was the anthetist with the good shit?! Things were looking dire – I desperately needed to hit the toilet because I was seconds away from ‘parking a coil (poo)’ on the pilates ball. I had nightmares of taking a turd on the delivery bed. It just seemed like the final scrap of dignity being striped away. While I had previously expressed to my gynae that I REALLY, really, really was freaked out about the fact that I might poo on her, she laughed and calmly said “be cool with the poo”.
Through the panic, the bleating and wails of “I’m going to poo, I’m going to poo”, I could hear the midwives laughing but in agitated whispers to our gynae, “Where have you been? We’ve been trying to call you for half an hour?!”. Her casual response was, “ Oh was that you guys?”. She cruised in with a “Hop on the bed and have a poo”. I was already 10 cms dilated.
There was no turning back , no epidural and no relief from the urge to push. The baby’s head was coming down the birth canal and this is what causes the “pooing urge” feeling. Hubby at my side, midwife next to me and gynae down below, they were cheering me on. “Push my Best … Come on … Push!”. For a fleeting moment, I looked down at my gynae and blurted out “No ways I can’t do this”. “Too late,” she cried, “how do you think it’s going to come out?”.
At that point, the midwife thought she would give one last encouraging nudge and said, “Give me your hand and you can feel the head. It’s right there”. I snatched my hand back, “JUST GET IT OUT!”. So here is a little pointer for the soon-to-be natural birthers out there … The last stage, before you push your baby out, is one painful sensation! It is as though someone has taken a lighter and set fire to your koek (vagina). As if the pain wasn’t bad enough! In the medical world, this is colloquially termed “The Ring of Fire” – blady appropriate in my experience.
Last major push and straight through the Ring of Fire … hello world … my little 2,6kg healthy baby girl. One stitch inside the koek and I got up 15 mins later and had a shower.
I was ready to be a mom to this little thing I had miraculously grown in my tummy for 8 months and pushed out all by myself. I felt like Super Woman – it was honestly one of the most indescribable, phenomenal experiences I could have ever had.
The highlights package: Natural birth is the hardest but the best thing I have ever done in my life and I can compare it to nothing! Sometimes things don’t work out the way you had planned but, in my humble opinion, at least give yourself the chance to experience the absolute wonder of natural birth. However, birth is birth and there is always going to be pain. There is no easy way around it; natural brings pain before and during, and a Caesar, afterwards. So whichever way it goes for you just know this, the whole birthing process becomes rather insignificant when you hold your perfect little creation and your baba is in the world!