The lies we tell ourselves or the hopes we have for ourselves?
It’s baby number two. It will be easier this time. It will be shorter this time. I know what to expect. I’ve done it before, I can do it again.
Seven days overdue and I am exhausted with this pregnancy. Desperate for it to end. Everything aches, my body, my mind. I just want it done.
I’m booked to be induced. Desperate to be induced. I’m scheduled to come in at 1.00pm but at 4.00am I’m showing signs that my labour is beginning. The top half of my stomach is irregularly contracting in a wide band, enough that I can’t sleep. I’m delighted. My son is due to go to his carer today, I will be able to labour at home peacefully and he can stay in routine, perhaps with a late pick-up? I get out of bed early and pack his bag and his lunch and wander around cleaning, all the while feeling the irregular but ever present contractions.
My husband takes our son to care and I potter around the house, listening to Gabrielle Aplin and occasionally bouncing on my fit ball. At around 12.30pm we head to the hospital for the induction appointment. It’s a busy day for the maternity ward but after a short wait we are ushered into the same delivery room by the same midwife we had the first time. I’m delighted by this as she was excellent, unfortunately her shift ends at 3.00pm. She notices I am visibly uncomfortable and is pleased that things are commencing of their own accord, of course this is preferred to induction. It’s not long before my doctor arrives. “So often I scare women into labour with the threat of induction!” he says. He decides not to break my waters now but rather to see how things progress. He tells me to go home, labour for awhile and come back around 7pm. If my waters have not broken he will leave instruction for this to happen.
Living out of town I am not confident to go home so we go to my parents house instead. The pain is still irregular but consistent and becoming much more intense. The vomiting also begins. Oh the vomiting. If there is a gold medal for vomiting hand it over! I wander around my parents home, retreating into dark corners, vomiting. The bed in the back room, the unfinished en-suite, my old bedroom, the bathroom. Looking for dark quite corners, I liken myself to a cat looking for a safe place to birth. After a few hours, now throwing up nothing but vast quantities of green bile, my mother (nurse and midwife) says its time to go to the hospital.
My husband and I go and she follows shortly after. My husband drops me at the after hours emergency entrance where I stand bent over, pale, vomit bag in hand. He parks the car and we go in. The emergency nurse looks at me, “Is she in labour?” she says to my husband. “Yes” he says. “Wait there we will get someone to come and get her“.
I am eventually taken to the maternity ward in a wheelchair where they return me to the same delivery suite. A young midwife is assigned and she checks my progress. “I don’t think we’ll break your waters yet. I don’t think your protruding enough“. I’m not happy. I want progress and these contractions are not right. The contractions are still irregular, holding firm across the top of my stomach for up to 5 minutes. These are not the contractions I remember, they exhaust me and all the while I vomit.
My mother and my sister arrive and I continue to labour. Not being what I remembered and being utterly fatigued emotionally and physically I start asking my sister about an epidural. “Why should I have to do this shit?!” At about this time, the decision is made to give me a shot of maxillon to stop the vomiting. Good for the vomiting, not great for contractions as maxillon seems to have the effect of slowing down, even stopping my contractions completely.
It is at this point I head for the bath, the big beautiful, soothing bath. The break in the contractions and the rest is golden, golden I tell you! My mother, my husband and my sister sit around my naked, dugong self and talk gently while I doze. My sister sponges warm water over me constantly, keeping me warm. The midwives come in and check me intermittently, listening to the baby under the water and taking my blood pressure.
After about an hour I reluctantly pull myself from the bath. The doctor is due to arrive and I need to move in order to get this baby moving. Shortly after returning to the delivery suite my doctor arrives. He is not impressed that my waters are still intact and have not been broken as instructed. He says a labour can go around and around like this for days and breaking my waters will kick things into gear. He is right, he breaks my waters and within 5 minutes I’m having a contraction, the pain moves from the aching band at the top, straight to the bottom. These are the contractions I remember! These are the contractions I can manage! Finally! I get a burst of adrenaline and start making really bad jokes.
I have a new midwife, a beautiful, calm, confident woman with a warm Irish accent. I’m delighted with her and I’m pleased the other is gone. A monitor is placed on my stomach. The babies heart rate is a concern due to the excessive vomiting and now dehydration. They ask me to drink and a relatively inexperienced nurse sets up an IV. In my delirious joke filled haze, I tell her I’m going to give her a score out of ten for inserting the cannula. She bursts a valve. That will teach me!
While she tries again, we talk about craft, I ramble and tell her she is in the company of genius as my sister was awarded the title of Scrapbooking Memories Scrapbook Master! I giggle a lot. My sister thinks I’m an idiot. I tell my husband I love him. I also tell him I hate him. The standard abuse.
With the IV in, I’m contracting. The most comfortable place is on the fit ball resting up against the bed. I feel like I am leaking everywhere all the time. I apologise constantly. I’m using gas now. The contractions are hard and fast and the vomiting returns. After every contraction, I vomit. I go through 23 vomit bags, at one time I appear to vomit the entire contents of the IV. A second unit goes up. My mother is horrified. My sister gives and takes the bags, my husband rubs my back. I ask for some morphine. It does not take the pain away but it takes the edge off.
At this time, my mother-in-law arrives, she is a doctor, a women’s specialist no less. I’m happy to have her with us.
I’m in transition and I find it utterly harrowing. The pain is indescribable and the mental and physical fatigue of the last 9 months and 24 hours are washing over me. It is so much worse than my first birth experience. So much worse.
After what seems like an age, I begin to feel that familiar pressure. The decision is made to get me up on the bed in preparation to push. When it comes time to push, I can’t relax, I can’t push. I’m intimidated by how exposed I am and I feel like the bed is blocking my efforts. I ask to get up. Expecting to be told no, I’m pleased when my midwife enthusiastically says yes.
With much help, I stand beside the bed and the bed is lifted to a comfortable resting level. This stage does not last long but it is utterly excruciating, I hold my mothers hands, I look desperately into her face and crush her fingers. My mother cries. I make guttural sounds. Lots of sounds. I am beside myself. I am asked if I want to give birth standing up. I do. I am told not to push too hard as they don’t want the baby to come flying out, but I want this to end. “Just get it out!“, I say.
Then it stops. He is there. In the hands of the midwife, between my legs. He is covered in blue cloth, I ask if he is a boy or a girl, but no one can tell, no-one can see. He is passed through my legs and onto the bed. I am shocked. He has little to no hair and he is fair. I expect him to look like his brother, born with a full head of thick black hair. “Oh, hello!” I say. Joy has arrived and he is mine.
Settled on the bed, he attaches and feeds almost instantly. He is the loveliest of lovely.
The placenta is not far behind and with it comes a massive splash of blood, people jump back from the bed. I’m given a shot and my stomach is massaged to help my uterus contract, it all seems to be fine. Messy, but fine.
Feeling happy but harrowed and exhausted, I’m asked if I would like some more gas while they check me. “Why?” I say. “You might need it“. I suspect not, but I take it anyway. DAMN! Enough with the pain in the vagina! I feel the urge to cry, no more! But it’s over. I’m badly grazed but avoid stitches. It’s over. My midwife whispers in my ear that I am to be commended for the way I carried myself. No finer thing could I have heard in that moment. I want to cry, again.
My beautiful support team get ready to leave, they too look harrowed and exhausted. I’m told later, both my mother and sister left and cried. Happy yes, but embattled also.
It’s 5am and my husband refuses to leave until I’m settled in my room. I’m faint and weak but I desperately want to shower. He helps me into the bathroom, covered in blood and frail. He washes my hair because I don’t have the strength to do it myself. He dries my legs because I can’t bend over. He dresses me. He is the best of men. The absolute best and we make beautiful babies.
In the weeks to come I’m going to interview my husband, my mother and my sister and get their perspective on the birth. It should be interesting…
I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT.