How was labour?
There is absolutely no way that I can answer that in a nice neat sentence. Be very careful when you ask a mother that question because you have to be ready to hear the honest answer. Having a baby is of course magical but it is flipping intense! Each woman’s labour story is so individual and special and I never ever want to forget mine. So here it is…
Being an Overdue Preggo
I wish that someone had told me not to count down the days to my due date because I did and let me tell you that going ‘over’ is no fun. Twelve very long days in the middle of a very hot summer had passed and I was still very much pregnant with not even a hint of anything getting going. Curry, pineapple, long walks – we tried everything. I even persuaded J to Boris Bike around London with me two days before Belle was born, up and down every bump and curb that I could find in the hope that it would get something going. It didn’t work and it just made me exhausted and even more grumpy.
We were crashed out watching films the day before my induction was scheduled when we got a call from the midwife. She said that the hospital was really quiet and that I could go in for my induction that afternoon – YES! She said that there was no rush but after almost ten months of waiting, we rushed! Of course the flat was upside down as we thought that we had the next day to straighten everything up. We were giddy with excitement as we changed the bed, raced through the washing up and threw the final bits into the hospital bag. I wanted to bring the baby home to a nice tidy flat. It was the most surreal feeling sitting in the back of the Uber knowing (or more accurately NOT knowing) what was ahead of us.
Being a first time preggo of course I was adamant that I was going to have a ‘natural birth’ that would involve pretty candles, a birthing pool, minimal drugs and definitely not a medical induction in hospital. As we went further and further past my due date I slowly started to let go of my birth plan and come to terms with the idea that I would most likely be getting an induction.
We were warned when we got to the hospital all excited that the induction could take up to 48 hours to get labour going. The midwife examined me and prepared me for a long wait *ergh*. Whilst we couldn’t go home, she said that we could go out on one last date (not too far from the hospital). Great idea. We headed out to our favourite pizza place but before the pizza hit the table I got my first real contraction. However, Franco Manca is the best and there was no way that I was going to miss out on this glorious pizza so I made sure that we finished dinner. However, I think that the pacing around the table and leaning over the chair whilst contractions passed was somewhat disturbing for the rest of the packed out restaurant.
By the time that we had finished dinner the contractions were getting stronger and closer but I was not going back to the hospital yet. I had read that the more active that you are in the early stages of labour then the quicker it will go. So I managed to convince J to go for a walk. We walked around Tottenham Court Road through all the little back streets stopping every few minutes to lean over a wall and breathe through a contraction. An hour or so later we arrived back at the hospital and to the midwife’s shock I was 2cm dilated.
The Pain (Pregnant ladies avert your eyes!)
Of course childbirth is painful, everyone knows that but I had NO idea just how bad. Once we got back to the hospital I popped a couple of paracetamol and waiting for them to kick in. They never did. At this point I was still optimistic, I put on my headphones and listened to the playlist that I had created months back and began pacing the corridors. Each time that I would get a contraction I would lean against the wall and moan my way though it. Remembering that pain now makes my toes curl. It is like nothing I had ever experienced. Each contraction made me was to squirm my way out of my own body *shiver*.
After four hours I cracked and asked for something stronger. Between midnight and 6am I had two doses of diamorphine which helped a bit but mainly made me sleepy. I remember being asleep for the two minutes in between each contraction. Brutal. Poor J sat next to me the whole time but I have pretty much no memory of it. I just remember the midwife who had said goodbye when she finished her shift the day before was back and the sun had risen. All concept of time had gone.
A midwife came in at 6am, examined me and said that I was finally ready to go to the birth center. It had taken 10 hours to get to 4cm.
The Birth Centre
Once I got to the birth centre I was given gas and air. GAME CHANGER. Gas and air is incredible. I cannot believe that I was considering not having it. I flipping loved the stuff. After nine months of no drinking it was the best feeling. I was high. So high that I was not allowed in the birthing pool as the midwife said that I would just go under. The midwife and student midwife stayed with me for the next 6 hours. They were phenomenal.
Then the time came and heard the magic words – you are ready to push. That meant that the hardest bit was to come but that I was so unbelievably close to meeting my little one. I honestly cannot tell you how long the pushing stage was but after a total of 18 long hours she arrived.
The tiniest little cry and the peace. She was passed straight to me and lay on my chest. She lay there looking at me with her big beautiful eyes. She was so alert! I remember being shocked because within seconds of being born she lifted her head to look at me. THE most incredible moment of my life. J and I finally had our little girl. She felt so light lying on my chest. J got her little hat and blanket from the bag and popped it on her head. Despite being two weeks later than expected she was tiny. The little hat covered her eyes when we put it on.
So how was Labour? Beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I have never been is so much pain and I have never seen so much blood and various other things that you should never see come out of your own body *gag* but it really was incredibly beautiful. People say that you forget the labour once the baby is born, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to as it was so special. Labour was the most intense but incredible, but beautiful but excruciating 18 hours of my life and I never want to forget it.
I have never felt so vulnerable and yet so powerful. I remember watching programmes like ‘One Born Every Minute’ when I was pregnant and bitching about the women who moan and scream their way through labour. I would smugly say “what a waste of energy” and “why are they asking for drugs already” and stupid things like “I am not going to do that”. I honestly believed that it could not be that bad. Well it is. I had NO idea what I was talking about.
Every Mum is different, we come in completely different shapes and sizes, we have different babies and different bodies and so of course everyone’s birth story is unique. I was lucky enough to have a relatively straight forward birth Was it according to my birth plan? Absolutely not. Do I care? Absolutely not.
You might have the most ultimate natural birth imaginable in a pool in your living room, listening to whale music and burning lavender candles or you might have complications and end up with every medical intervention going, it makes no difference. You are a mother and you therefore are incredible and you have a right to proudly own your birth story. Pregnancy gives you a very long time to make very detailed plans but ultimatly, labour is the process of getting your baby into your arms in the safest possible way. Make a birth plan but hold it in open palms. There is no gold medal in the recovery ward for the ‘best drug free labour’. We are all the same.