If you are pregnant or have ever been pregnant you will be aware of the endless stream of unsolicited advice you get from everyone. That in mind I would like to offer this disclaimer the only advice that will come out of this post is give yourself a break, or let yourself of the hook, or you are doing great. The exact wording needs to be worked out somewhat but you get the gist, the gist being it is all okay.
I didn’t plan on sharing a birth story because I was not sure what angle I would come from when writing about it. As my pregnancy progressed and I developed a number of confusing feelings I started to think I had something to share. After the birth I knew what my broader theme would be and felt I had something to write, so here goes.
The first time I became pregnant I lost my little girl, she was still born, she was called Anne and nothing could have prepared me for the pain of her passing. After that I had six miscarriages. All of this happened with three different partners so regardless of logic and reason I was left with one overwhelming thought, the problem was me. There I was with a body that is built to create life and I couldn’t protect my children from my own ineffectual body. I had resigned myself to the fact that children were not going to happen for me, when I became pregnant with Sebastian there was a large part of me that was waiting for it to fail. It is easier said than done after that much heartache to remain positive regardless of what anyone else said to me.
Time moved forward and the pregnancy was healthy and I began to relax but the guilt had well and truly set in and it was two fold. The more excited I became at the prospect of Sebastian arriving I couldn’t help but wonder why this time? I kept feeling that if I rejoiced in Sebastian I was betraying the memory of my other babies, treating them as replaceable. The truth is even though I never got to meet them I will never stop loving them and knowing in my heart they would have been nothing short of amazing. I had a pretty rough pregnancy, every horrid symptom that could happen was happening. This was good news as I had never had any symptoms in previous pregnancies, my body had finally decided to play ball. There is no way to dress this up so I will just come out and say it, I hated being pregnant. Well that is not true I hated the bleeding gums, insomnia, headaches, sickness, back pain, heartburn and so on. I felt like I was surrounded by women who told me how they loved every minute of it and I was hit with a big guilt hammer again. I eventually came to terms with the fact that I did not have to love being pregnant to love my child, you see the broader theme is kicking in. I let myself off the hook and knew that just because I did not revel in feeling ill and exhausted that did not mean I was a bad mother.
So much was said about making a birth plan and I suggest that you make the plan but treat it as a plan not something that is set in stone, because birth is a dynamic situation and nothing is set in stone. I did everything that the books said I should. I sat on the birthing ball, I drank raspberry leaf tea, I did the yoga, I massaged the perineum, and yet. And yet I was met with two weeks of prodromnal labour, what is this? Well I did not know what it was until I had was having it, it is basically labour pains that go nowhere. Here is a word of advice that strays from the theme and is not for pregnant ladies but those around them. If you are with someone who is having prodromnal labour using the phrase, or anything similar to “it is just false labour” could result in violence and no court in the land will prosecute her for the damage she inflicts upon you. The contractions I was having were just as epic as those I had when I actually gave birth.
After all the baby fake outs I was not taking signs of labour with anything other than a huge pinch of salt. A week and a bit after my due date at 11pm labour started again. At 1am I was pretty sure it was not stopping so I tried to rest but was just laying awake watching Lost. At 5am my waters broke. My sage femme had predicted at 6months this was going to be a long labour and said not to call her until I had contractions that were two minutes apart for 2 hours. She was not wrong, I sat in the bath at home and waited. I eventually went to the hospital at 8.30am. I sat in the pool, I took the homeopathy that was given to me and I listened to Buffy on the tablet, she was a much better distraction than a TENS machine, each to their own but I am a Buffy person.
After 9 hours of contractions coming every 1-2 minutes and being dilated it was time to start thinking why things had not moved on. In the 17 hours I eventually spent in the hospital it was safe to say I had not factored in how much time someone would be arm deep in my lady place, I was a little naive perhaps. My boy as perfect as he is gained his first nickname and it was whack a mole, every time I had a contraction his head would start to come down, the contraction stopped and he popped back up. One of the reasons for this was that he decided not to put his head down like he was supposed to, instead he had his eyes front. The rest of my time was spent walking up and down the stairs, being positioned on a ball, with my legs twisted in many different ways and having the inducing drip turned up to make the contractions beyond bearable. Hour 17 post waters breaking the decision was made that I was to be taken to theatre for an emergency C section. I obviously wanted to avoid a procedure with a long recovery time so we all went to theatre and the doctor decided to do an episiotomy first. The plan was the next time I had a contraction to get me to “push like I might tear”, the doctors words not mine whilst he made a grab for him with forceps. If this failed then they would perform an emergency C section.
Down in the theatre, legs strapped into stirrups we were ready for operation get this boy out. After three pushes I became petulant and decided I was too tired to carry on. “Your baby is nearly here, one more push”. The words floated down to me and I thought what rubbish, this is like when the steward at the eighteen mile mark said the marathon was almost over, that was a lie and this felt like a lie but I was left with little choice, so one more push it was. There, after all that time four pushes and he arrived. I looked between my legs and my son, eyes wide open was hurtling towards me for skin to skin contact and it was the most surreal thing I have ever experienced. I was so tired and hungry and feeling every emotion I could. At this point I was so overwhelmed that I threw up on my own face and hair, not my proudest moment but at least I didn’t poo myself.
For the next two hours my son lay on me, with his eyes open and all I could think was he was worth the wait, worth the heartache of miscarriages, there he was the worlds best baby and he was mine.
Some women have awful experiences and trauma during birth, my own mother was put off for 20 years after me. My advice is that if you can let go of the fact that things were not to plan do so, let yourself off the hook, sometimes things have to change and it is no ones fault. If you start to feel sad about the way it went grab your baby give them a hug and a sniff and you will be totally high on baby. Was I disappointed that my birth plan went out of the window? Hell no have you seen my son, he is awesome I have been elated for three weeks now.