It was Dexter’s First Birthday last week (HOW THE HELL DID THAT HAPPEN?!) and it got me thinking back to that fateful day 12 months ago, so I have decided to share his birth story with you lovely readers. It’s a long one peeps…I do hope you hang on in there…
In preparation for the upcoming horror story that I knew was to ensue in the coming weeks, I armed myself with what I thought may be my saving grace, and what may make the experience less horror and more beautiful, touching drama (of course it would always be a drama). This wonderful, magical, and pretty unrealistic item happened to be a Hypnobirthing book. I tried to get in to the local class run through the NHS but demand was so ridiculously high that there was no chance that was happening. Rather than spend a fortune (I’m guessing) on private classes I decided to give this thing a shot myself. So on to Amazon I went and scanned through a few reviews before settling on my choice. The book came with a CD (which I have never listened to, but I’m sure would have been very relaxing), and was full of wonderful words aimed to promote an aura of positivity around you, paired with lots of visualisations for you to read through and then take yourself off to another world. These things combined had the aim to prepare your mind and body for a calm and natural birthing experience.
As it happens, I didn’t actually read much of the book as I kind of got out of the the swing of it, and found the visualisations really difficult; something I consider very strange as I’ve always had an over-active imagination, and who wouldn’t want to take themselves off to a world with floating balloons and calming seas? I did take something from the early pages of the book though, some things that I reaffirmed through the remainder of my pregnancy and that I would vomit out every time someone told me another terrifying birth story, just to counteract their negativity and show these bitches that I got this. Of course I didn’t ‘have this’; I had huge doubts about how I was going to cope, but I genuinely think that the more I told myself and other people out loud, the more my mind and body believed it…a bit. So I will probably, definitely read the whole book when the next time comes around.
The most prominent piece of sense I took from the book was about our bodies being designed and made to endure childbirth, about the different hormones we produce when we’re relaxed as opposed to the ones we produce when we’re stressed and uptight, and how these can progress and slow down/halt the labour process respectively. It talked about how animals take themselves off to a quiet spot to give birth without onlookers making them feel uncomfortable, and this way the birthing process is usually smooth and over relatively quickly. I believed all this stuff and could see how it could actually work if you put it in to practice. If you ask myself or any of my friends whether they felt like their bodies were made to push a humongous head out of their vajayjays mind, you’ll probably get a ton of expletives and a some sizeable rants hurled your way, but the truth is, I suppose they kinda were.
As D-Day drew closer, I was adamant that I was going to be overdue, so I tried not to get myself too excited/shit myself too much. At my due date midwife appointment, she told me that I would be scheduled to have a sweep once I hit the ‘week late’ point, however “You won’t make it to that” kept my spirits relatively high.
The week preceding the due date was spent doing all the things that the old wives’ tales tell you to; spicy food, long walks, a bumpy car ride, pineapple, and a bit of ‘how’s your father’; the latter seemingly the only thing that held any kind of truth as it led to two false starts. These were really annoying as you think you’re good to go and then…oh no…we’re at a standstill after three hours of psyching yourself up for what you think is pain. It is not.
When things finally kicked off, we were two days over (pretty happy with that), and asleep in bed as it was 3:45am. I didn’t take this as a sure fire green light though due to the previous times, however noticeably stronger contractions and passing the three hour point made me take this shit a bit more seriously. At 6:45am knowing that the show was definitely on the road, I was butt-naked in front of the mirror fake tanning- mostly because I’m an absolute moron who thinks about how my legs and vagina will look so much better for the midwives under all that harsh lighting if I have a bit of a tan, rather than the fact I have a human making it’s way down my birth canal. In order for the tanning to be the most efficient under the circumstances, I went for a product that you wash off after 1-3 hours and then it develops over a further eight hours. This meant that when I arrived at the hospital I resembled a giant meringue, and by the time I had babe in arms I was the ultimate bronzed goddess, just in time for our first photo #igavebirthlikethis haha.
We arrived at the Maternity Assessment Centre (MAC) at around 12:30pm, so in between the fake tanning and that there was lots of swaying from side to side over the back of a sofa, a shower, some puking in to a measuring jug and a quick make-up application (’cause if I’m gonna fake tan of course I’m gonna bloody put my face on). As my contractions got longer, closer together and more intense, Mr B rang my mum as she was my second birthing partner, and told her to get over to our house as it was all kicking off. Mr B rang the maternity ward at midday and suggested we come in. They asked to speak to me and didn’t think I seemed to be in too much pain, so advised me to take two paracetamol and hang on in there. Knowing my own body though, we left for the hospital not long after that call, and arrived speedily as it is only a couple of minutes from our house in the car.
Standing at the desk in the MAC with a measuring jug in hand and muttering something about being told to come there, the staff behind the desk looked at me blankly. I didn’t have the energy or togetherness to elaborate further, I just assumed that it was pretty obvious what I was there for, considering I had an enormous bump protruding from my middle, and surely looked to be in a lot of discomfort. Turns out the measuring jug threw them off the scent though and they clearly thought I was some random woman who had lost the plot, so we all giggled at the silly misunderstanding as they ushered me over to the waiting area (as IF I giggled- I wanted to punch their stupid faces had I had the energy). So I sat there in the waiting area and looked around me to see calm faces and varying bump sizes; it looked or felt like I was the only one there who was actually in labour. As I sat there having regular contractions and growing increasingly effed off at the fact that I had to do this in front of these strangers (I reckon my contraction face left much to be desired), they finally asked me in to a side room for assessment, and then left me there for another 10 minutes or so as the contractions came in thick and fast, but thankfully privately.
A student midwife introduced herself to me, and I wasn’t worried at all because everyone has to learn, right? And who cares if the moment this particular person was learning was whilst I threw up over myself and had my vagina out on a slab open to evaluation. Turns out I should probably have been a little worried though, as the next stage didn’t go so smoothly. I was made to do a pee sample twice (as the first one was a bit inconclusive for whatever they were looking for) whilst I contracted on the loo where those strangers I mentioned before were just at the other side of the door, and I left a trail of blood in my midst just to make me feel even more wonderfully attractive and endearing.
I laid on the bed whilst the SM poked and prodded my tummy and told me which way my baby was facing, whilst I knew he was actually facing the opposite way, and I threw my head to the side whenever I had the unexpected urge to projectile vomit across myself and the room. Despite all this, and despite not having actually given me a physical examination, the SM thought I seemed to be dealing with the pain pretty well and began her ‘research shows that the longer you can stay at home during early labour the better it will be’ speech, whilst I eyeballed Mr B and my mother with a look they knew all too well. I could in no way go home right now; I knew my body and I knew I was too far in to bugger off home. The SM saw my face and finally offered me a physical examination which I greeted with open arms thinking, ‘now she will see she can’t send me home…this bitch is gonna eat her words.’
“You’re about 3-4cm dilated, so we could maybe get away with keeping you here without you going home”, were the next words I heard come out of her mouth. ‘WHAT?! THREE…FOUR CENTIMETRES?! NO. I’m not having it; if I’m 3-4cm then how the hell am I ever going to get to 10cm? I can’t do pain like that.’ My mind went in to overdrive and panic started to set in. However, before I had time to go in to full-on freak-out mode, a second opinion from a fully qualified midwife swiftly afterwards confirmed my original thoughts, as she told me I was actually almost 8cm dilated and they whisked me off down to labour ward in a wheelchair…because there’s no way I was walking anywhere thank you very much.
The next few hours are a bit of a blur as it all felt quite full-on. I realised a little while in that I wasn’t actually sprawled out donning a bikini in a pool like I had requested, as it turns out the two pools were already taken by some other birthing bitches, so I had to make do with a crappy little bed which was home to various ungodly positions whilst I tried to make myself feel less pain. As much as I was told I was dealing with the whole experience seriously well and in a quiet, non-screamy manner, and the midwives and my birthing partners reassured me I was making great progress, I do remember a split second not long before the pushing part where I thought to myself, ‘I feel like I could die. I know I won’t, but I feel like I could‘. I think it was around that moment that I asked about pain relief, but the midwives lied and told me it was too late, knowing full well I didn’t really want pain relief and that I was getting through it OK without.
My ‘birth plan’ was to have gas and air, but to avoid all other drugs if possible, but after a few sucks of the G&A here and there, it made me feel worse rather than better, and I didn’t feel like I could concentrate on regulating my breathing or general birth-giving whilst using it (I’ve always been terrible at multi-tasking), so kept flinging it back to Mr B and Mum when I got fed up of holding the thing.
I do need to mention how amazing my mum and Mr B were; they gave me just the right amount of sympathy, support and encouragement whilst knowing when to back off- at least most of the time anyway. There was the occasional instance where I had to bat their annoying little hands away for stroking my face way too much or invading my personal space for a touch too long. Mr B even endured projectile vomit all over him numerous times; what a rock star.
I pushed Dexter out in 34 minutes, which I’m told isn’t bad going. I can’t even describe the sensation of pushing a human out from down there, or the feeling of their head between your legs, but I can tell you that I just went for it. I’d watched too many episodes of One Born Every Minute to know not to let this thing drag on too long. I paused when the midwives advised me to, and went all in when my body told me so. I said to myself that the harder I push the quicker I would meet my baby and the safer he would be. And it worked, so I’m not afraid to say I’m pretty proud of myself for that.
What came afterwards was love and relief and disbelief, and a million other raw emotions in between. What also came afterwards was an hour of intimate stitching and a hospital room and en-suite which looked like a massacre had taken place. There was blood literally everywhere, and the bathroom was like a scene out of a horror movie. I’m sure my bits were too if it took them an hour to tidy them up. I actually used more of the gas and air whilst getting the stitches than I did any of the actual labour, and by this point it must have had time to build up and take effect as I remember feeling totally out of it and saying to the room “I haven’t been this drunk in nine months!” which everyone thought was hilarious.