It still seems dreamlike, that I, who still enjoy paper dolls, children’s films and books, and (shh, don’t tell anyone) bottled baby food, as well as the ability to sleep long and odd hours, am now a mum. Some of us are dragged kicking, screaming, or at the very least, doubtful to the altar of parenthood. I was one of those hesitant individuals. Nevertheless, on May 27, at 7:46 am, I did become one. I have also become one of those people who vow that they wouldn’t change it for the world. *sigh* It’s a slippery slope to sentimental cliche-ness, folks.
While there are aspects of my previous child-free life that I do miss, I feel that I’ve adjusted to my new role better than I expected, and my expectations were crushing to say the least. However, I won’t bore you with my inner dialogues. I will instead try to succinctly document my experience, in hopes that it helps someone as fearful of childbirth as I was. Because, you know, I was supposed to be ‘helping’ expecting women with suggestions and ideas for extending their non-maternity wardrobes, and that never happened, haha. Pregnancy is procrastination’s best friend.
Quick notes: I did not have a birth plan, as most births usually don’t go according to plan, so I felt there was no point in having one. 2. I vacillated between pushing or a C-section. The decision was made slightly easier by videos I watched of both methods. They slice through a lot of layers!! I figured a tear was the lesser of two evils. But that’s just my personal opinion… the opinion of a wimp.
On the morning of the 26th, I was experiencing quite unignorable contractions of odd lengths and durations. Mister called the midwife, but she said it was most likely nothing, citing the 4-1-1 guideline (1 minute long, 4 minutes apart, for 1 hour). Late in the afternoon, she came to check up on me and said that I was only 4 centimeters dilated. I was told to take a bath for the evening, take two each of Tylenol and Gravol and to try to sleep through the night. She said people who did not take those pills were never able to sleep through the night, so it was best that I take her advice if I wanted to have a good night’s rest in order to push, as she said it was likely I would be this way for a day or so, it being my first baby. WELL. WELL. We were going to show her, weren’t we!
I took All the Pills dutifully, but overnight, my contractions got stronger and I did not sleep a wink. Instead, I was timing contractions through a pregnancy app, and counting away the hours. Several times, I thought of paging for the midwife again, but I figured if she was just going to tell me I wasn’t dilated enough, or that this was going to last for a few days, I wouldn’t bother with it. Finally, at 4 am, it got so intense that I was violently rocking back and forth on the bed, trying to take away the pain with the TENS unit. It wasn’t working, and I decided to go to the guest room so that Alex could get a few more hours sleep. By this time, timing the contractions was impossible to do, and at 5:45, as I shifted, I felt something warm, wet, and sticky come out of me. My water?! was my first thought. This is so Hollywood, was my next until I looked down and saw thick puddles of blood. Internal panic ensued, and I screamed for Alex. I threw the phone in his direction and told him to call the midwife.
While she was on her way, I believed I was going to die. I really did. I somehow made it downstairs, and then spent the rest of the time writhing on the floor, screaming. It was the extreme opposite of glamorous, and there went my experiment of being silent like a Scientologist. I would not make the cut, and I have no regrets about that.
When the midwife finally arrived, I don’t remember how dilated she said I was, but I believe she said it was close but still not quite enough. She asked if I wanted to have the baby at home, as she had all the instruments needed for one, but I said I Definitely Wanted the birthing centre because they had a tub and gas. If I wasn’t going to get an epidural, I at least wanted gas. So we rushed to the birthing centre, and I’m surprised Alex could drive straight what with me making these odd high-pitched breathing screams while convulsing in my seat. When we got to our room, the birthing tub was all ready, but I refused to budge after I’d sat on the bed. They took off the TENS unit, and I honestly didn’t miss it as I didn’t feel that it did anything for me. The gas though, was Glorious. It relaxed me, and made the contractions seem distant. But those tyrannical midwives took it away!! “You’ll be too dopey to push,” they said. Well I didn’t want to push. I just wanted to fall asleep and have the baby slip out of me while I was unconscious. At this point, I decided I had had enough. I sat up, and calmly declared that what I needed was a c-section, so could we please go to the hospital. One of the midwives said that if a doctor examined me at that moment, all (s)he would say was to tell me to push. I just didn’t have the urge to push, and I told the midwives so. The main midwife decided she would help me along, and informed me that she was going to manually break my water. It was the most uncomfortable sensation, having her fingers up there, and I may have screamed that she stop immediately and take her hand out of there. She did not listen to me, and I felt my water breaking. Finally I started feeling a very odd sensation. It wasn’t quite the urge to push that I thought I would feel, but what else could it be? Everyone was urging me to push, and I decided the sooner I did, the sooner I would stop having those horrid contractions. So I did, and they saw the baby’s head come out, but as soon as I relaxed, the head went back in! I was so upset, I decided I wouldn’t wait for any contractions to push, and I started screaming hard as I pushed, and pushed, and pushed. All of baby was out in a few minutes, and I was so relieved. I wanted to go to sleep, but they insisted on immediate skin-to-skin contact. I thought I would resent the baby, but instead, I loved him immediately. See? It’s a slippery slope to becoming a sop…
I remember Alex being in awe of the baby, and myself just wanting to cuddle with him and sleep, bloodied and all. I vaguely remembering Alex showing me a paper with the name we had discussed for months, and asking if I were happy with it. I remember Alex cutting the cord, and my wanting to ask him if he felt like Chandler Bing from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. who had declared that cutting the umbilical cord had felt squishy. I also remember asking Alex whether our baby were actually a boy or not, especially after the stories I’d been told of ultrasounds not getting it right, and feeling content that it was a boy.
And then they told me that I had a 3rd degree tear and needed to be taken to the hospital to be stitched. Once there, I had to wait for two births to take place, and then when it was finally my turn to get patched up, they froze me, and I was finally reunited with my beloved gas. (I sound like an addict, but I’m not!)
Finally, we were allowed to go home. For me, the end of the birth experience was sleeping with baby beside me after the adventure. It was the best sleep I had had in days, because it was just so peaceful while tinged with a heady excitement and feeling of love and pride.
If you asked me which part I dreaded most before all this happened, I would have said it was the pushing. But now, I would have to say that the contractions traumatised me, more than a wee bit. I was not prepared to fear them at all, and now it is the part I most dread. The pushing did not hurt for me at all; I didn’t even feel the tear until the next day.
While I vaguely feel that it would be nice to have another baby sometime, I know I need at least a year to recover, mentally and physically. I also want to make the most of this time to cherish our first.
I must admit that in the early days of my pregnancy, I had hoped it would be a girl because I thought it would be the dearest thing to be able to match in mummy-daughter outfits. Well, my little boy did not disappoint me. We both went home in diapers that first day.
As I write this, baby is sleeping peacefully in my lap after being fed. His tiny hands and toes are perfect, and that newborn fuzz makes him look like the most adorable peach. I am again overwhelmed with gratitude and amazement that this quite well-behaved baby has been gifted to Alex and me by the universe. All I ask or want, is that he grow up to be brave and kind and clever. And that we are exactly the sort of parents he needs.
Welcome to the world, our precious bundle. xx
Credit: Photo of baby with star by the very talented Jessica of Jessica Angel Photography.