This isn’t the story of me emerging from my mother’s nethers many, MANY moons ago. Rather, it’s the tale of how someone who has always had an irrational fear of childbirth managed to have two children.
The “ideal” is a natural birth, right? Preferably at home. Well, it’s nicer to be in your own environs, especially if you have Hospital Fear (people vomit a lot there and what with me being an emetophobe a hospital naturally scares the bejaysis out of me). Something kept urging me to go down the hospital route, probably because it was my fist.
I got the hypnobirthing CDs, which were listened to daily. Active birthing workshops, were attending, books were read. I felt, and was, “prepared.” Well, as “prepared” as someone who’s never had a baby before can be. And then Lara refused to leave. No amount of fit ball bouncing, positive thinking, curries, waddling, raspberry leaf tea quaffing, or pineapple chunks would shift her. So, two weeks after the due date, she was served an eviction notice in Holles Street.
For the record, the hospital’s infamous Unit 3 wasn’t as hellish as I’d been lead to believe. All the midwives were brilliant (unfortunately the same can’t be said for the second birth experience, but that’s for another day). Increasingly long story short, I was in labour for about 10 hours. Because it was an induction (again, a story for another day), the contractions weren’t entirely natural; and – to be blunt – they were EXCRUTIATING. And relentless. Instead of them building with breaks in between, it was just one continuous contraction until they established. Breathing was a life saver. All you need to do is shut out everything, and breath. Breathing was especially helpful when Meatloaf‘s Bat Out of Hell came on the radio mid-contraction. I was trying (and failing) to indicate to Mark that it was OK to laugh, but he didn’t – so fair play to him.
When the “epidural man” arrived, I nearly hopped him. As fate would have it, the anestehtic only worked on one side, which meant – when Lara’s heartbeat disappeared off the monitor – that I had to be knocked out. Eight nurses and doctors descended on the delivery room and whisked me off to theatre in a matter of seconds. I was fine, I was being knocked out, I didn’t have to deal with anything – my main concerns were Lara, and Mark, who was suddenly left on his todd. Partners aren’t allowed into theatre when you have a C-Section under general anaesthetic. They used to be permitted – until one dad-to-be fainted at the sight of his wife being knocked out and sliced open. Bit of an insurance nightmare.
Because I’d had a lorrah lorrah drugs, and the C-Section, I couldn’t go up to see Lara in the ICU (routine with some C-section babies). Mark took some photos and a little video, so that tided me over until she was wheeled into me six hours later. I remember looking at her thinking “Well, you could be anyone’s, really.” The fact she was wearing someone else’s baby grow didn’t help matters (no idea where all her carefully wrapped baby clothes went to in the panic). However, after our first few nights together, the bond started to creep in. Without sounding too corny, she’s the reason I was put on this planet.
I may not have been awake for our daughter’s arrival. We may have missed her first breath, her first cry, and the first time she opened her eyes, but she got here safely and that’s the main thing. The experience – or lack thereof – is, for want of a better word, incidental. It’s all part of a process. The likes of One Born Every Minute obviously places a lot of stock in said process, but it’s the end result that counts – so don’t be giving yourselves a hard time now, you hear? Just go with what’s right for you and your liddler.
No matter what your situation might be, always hope for the best and expect the unexpected. Life loves throwing you curve balls. And, whatever you do, DO. NOT. FORGET. TO. BREATHE. That goes for you too, birthing partner 😉