I hate being pregnant.
It’s not about glowing and being some lovely, maternal goddess. It’s uncomfortable. It’s exhausting. It’s counting down the endless number of days until you get to meet the little person. Which I was positive was never, ever, ever going to happen.
We hit all the milestones: thirty weeks; thirty-five weeks; a growth scan at thirty-seven weeks to see if I was growing a giant potato baby. The adventure with dad to see Green Day in the city at thirty-eight weeks. We were slowly inching towards fourty weeks and I was DONE. Any longer and my obstetrician was going to haul this thing out with her bare hands to prevent me from having another 4.5kg baby.
Yes, we grow giants out here in the country.
The fourty-week mark was a hard one. I was due on Wednesday and booked in to be induced on the Friday, which I did not want. What was worse, my grandmother was admitted to hospital that week; this is never good news for a woman in her nineties. I always held hope though, she was the strongest woman on the planet. Tired, but strong. I visited her on my due date, and realised that it may just be the last time. I hoped that she could hold on long enough to meet her newest great-grandchild. Firstly, because that would be so nice for her. But also, because I’m selfish. I couldn’t think of anything worse than having a child that shared a birthday with the anniversary of my grandmother’s death. The mere thought brought me to tears.
Friday morning came, and I could not sleep. I was up at 2 AM because I am ridiculous. How are you supposed to sleep when you know you’re meeting your baby that day?! Or not, because child birth can last forever. Or what if something went horribly wrong? Or what if I needed a C-Section? Medical things creep me out like you wouldn’t believe; a C-section could potentially traumatise me. And the recovery time? Who has time to recover?!
I may have been a little anxious.
So, I cuddled up on the couch with a blanket, popped on ‘Legally Blonde’ to numb my brain, and tried to write a little. Mum was on Facebook, which was weird because she’s a Sensible Person, so I sent her a message. Turns out my dad had gone to the hospital in the middle of the night; not that mum said this, but it couldn’t be good news. However, I had no choice but to continue getting ready for the big day ahead.
They book you in to be induced for 7:30 am. We live out of town, so we had to leave extra early. Having three kids to my parent’s place by 6:45am is amazing and I’d like a medal please.
My mum greeted us at the front door and ushered my kids into the warm. It was there we were told the news I’d been dreading all week: my grandmother had passed away. And I was about to head to the very same place she had left to bring another life into the world.
If you’ve never been induced, this is how it goes: they take you in and go through all the blah-blah and make you comfortable. They hook you up to a heart rate monitor, a belly band to monitor contractions and the baby’s heart rate, and stick a cannula in your hand. They take a blood sample. A doctor comes in and breaks your waters. You’re hooked up to an IV to start and control contractions, and you’re on your way to a baby. Easy-peasy.
I was sad. I was numb. I was tired. I was apprehensive. And we hadn’t even begun.
It sounds stupid, but for me, a cannula in my hand is one of the most terrifying things in the world. Even now, I still squirm at the thought. But I made it through that. I was hooked up to all these things that would prevent me from moving around during labour, which I hate. I like to be free to roam around between contractions, to stand and sway throughout. They took my blood. And then they broke my waters.
“… I can feel a hand!”
The doctor was a panicky one. For good cause, I mean she was expecting to check my dilation and feel the baby’s head. But no, there was a doctor with part of her hand in my vagina cursing under her breath and saying things like “it’s trying to push me away!”
Only mildly unsettling.
So, she called for a doctor, and they called for another doctor and before I knew it I had five medical professionals in the room with me. A midwife talking Benji through things, two women gently applying pressure to my tummy to let out fluid, a doctor observing, and throughout all this, the first doctor still with her hand in my vagina to hold it all in.
Babies are supposed to be born head first for a reason. The main concern here was that there was room for the umbilical cord to slip out before the baby, which the midwife boldly said, “if this happens, I will be sticking my hand firmly inside your vagina, and it will not come out until they have started a C-section in surgery.”
In hindsight that thought is kind of funny; being wheeled away to theatre with a nurse’s hand all up in my business. But it wasn’t something I wanted.
To make things weirder, they stuck a patch to baby’s head which joined to another on my inner thigh. That was to get a better heart rate read, I think; it’s all a little blurry. All I know was this was the most things I had ever been hooked up to. It was the most unnatural and surreal feeling. It also made going to the bathroom a nightmare; besides contractions and carrying an IV, I had to shuffle along with this cord between my thighs. During my slow, pantsless, procession towards the bathroom, a guy barged in to ask the midwife for keys. I would have been mortified if I hadn’t have given birth three times before and had many (professional) strangers witness my body in all wretched states. But still, he could have knocked.
The contractions slowly increase. I love the start of labour, when contractions are just little waves and you’re all optimistic. ‘I can handle this! I can even check Twitter and breath through it!’ So good. But it doesn’t last. By 1 pm I’d had enough. All the pain and mental anguish from the morning came rushing back and I cracked a little. For the first time, I told the midwife about my grandmother and she graciously offered me some morphine, which I happily accepted. I didn’t think anymore. I could sleep between contractions. If only that was the way birth ends.
Later that afternoon, I was begging for it to stop. Midwives are incredibly patient people. Around 3pm I decided it was time to push. I could feel pressure, and it was the first time I had felt a natural urge to push. There I am, feet high in stirrups, pushing through a contraction, and a giggle comes out of the midwife at the end of the bed. “I’m sorry,” she said. “But your baby is waving at me!
… would you mind if we got a photo??”
Well, why the heck not. I generally have a zero camera policy for myself in labour, but it couldn’t get any weirder, could it?
Well it could. I have seen this picture. There is a photo of my vagina with a tiny little hand protruding from it in existence. And I have no idea what to do with it.
Another midwife comes to help with the delivery, and she’s laughing too. It feels like I’m never going to meet this damn friendly baby, but with a couple more pushes she’s here.
She’s placed on my chest, and I’m wrapped up in feelings of relief and joy and love.
The first thing I notice about her?
She has really big hands.
– missed part one? Go read it here! –