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!