It’s 10:10pm. I’ve just hauled my weary five-days-overdue body off the couch, foregone the idea of replacing my clothes with pyjamas because if I can’t see my feet, there’s no way I can hoist shorts up over my enlarged derriere, and collapsed into bed fully nude. At this stage in my life, nude does not equal sexy. It’s simply a survival mechanism because I can’t be bothered exerting any effort that will literally be wasted when I change into day-suitable attire tomorrow. There’s just no point. Actually, why am I getting changed at all?
As I fitfully drift into slumber, my legs wrapped around the body pillow that has effectively replaced my husband, as my sexless lover, I wonder if this is going to be The Night. On one hand, I desperately want it to be. My hips ache 24/7, my stretch marks are wider than the Grand Canyon, and nothing fits me because the McDonald’s drive-thru is mere minutes down the road and I have cravings. No judgement here.
But on the other hand, I would quite like to avoid what will inevitably have to happen for tonight to be The Night and tomorrow to be The Day After. I have no idea what to expect. I mean, I went to all the antenatal courses and learned lots of things like that a natural vaginal birth is the proper way to have a baby*, and that I should avoid pethidine at all costs because my baby will come out all dopey**, and that breast is
best only***. And oh damn, I forgot to buy a pack of those incontinence lady nappies that the antenatal lady recommended for all the bleeding afterwards (urgh, bleeding), and bugger, I really meant to practise swaddling a bit more before …
Herein lies my inner monologue for the next 84 seconds:
Okay. Um … wait. Was that a … pop? Like, an actual pop? Like, not like a balloon pop but like …
Hmmm. My lady bits feel a bit warm. That’s odd.
OMG. I literally heard my waters break. That is so gross.
OMG. My waters have broken. Only 15% of pregnant women’s waters break before they go into labour. I’M A F*****G UNICORN!!
OMG. My waters have broken. Um. S**t. I forgot to lay down extra towels for such a time as this. Am I currently wetting the bed?
OMG. My waters have broken. I’m going to have an actual baby in the very near future. I knew I should have practiced swaddling more.
OMG WHAT IF MY WATERS ARE BLACK I NEED TO GO TO THE TOILET WHAT IF HE HAS POOPED HIMSELF BUT WHEN I STAND UP IS IT ALL GOING TO COME OUT OF MY FOOFOO I NEED A BUCKET CAN I USE THIS ECOYA CANDLE INSTEAD OMGOMGOMG.
I take a deep breath. I consider calling out to Husband. But what if it’s a false alarm? No. A) I need to get to the toilet as quickly as possible – and with as little leakage as possible – and b) I need to have a moment to myself to get my head around just what this means. I roll out of bed because my enormous stomach prevents me from sitting up like a normal person. I consider crawling to the loo but ew gross, floor wees. I hoist myself to my feet and run like the wind/an enormous pregnant woman (so not very wind-like). I feel a dribble down my inner thigh but I’m halfway there. If I turn back, I’ll only have to turn around and go the full distance again, and that’s even more potentially black amniotic fluid that will need cleaning up by probably not me.
I reach the relative safety of the loo and sit down. It’s not a gush; it’s more a slow dribble, like I’ve just gone to the beach and water is escaping my various orifices as I sexily emerge out of the water with my glorious double Ds, size 8 waist and thigh gap (dreams are free). I take a few deep breaths. I stand up. I squint into the bowl (um, where are my glasses?). No sign of black. OK. No pre-birth baby poop. Cue imaginary ‘high five’.
“So … my waters just broke.”
A head pops around the corner of the bathroom. “Are you sure?”
“Well, it’s either that or I just weed myself.”
Husband, bless him, cleans up the bed and the carpet and the bathroom floor while I unwrap a pad and climb back into bed. Just go back to bed and get some rest, my midwife tells my inner monologue. You have heaps of time.
I abruptly awake with a stabbing pain in my girth. The time is 11:40pm. Wait, what? I thought I had heaps of time! Um, OK. This is fine; it’s just the beginning … ooooh, that’s another stabbing pain. Um, OK. This is fine … ooooh, that’s another one. These are quite close together. Um. OK. Where’s my Swiss ball? I need my heat pack. Oooh, that’s another one. Um. OK. I wish I’d read that birthing hypnosis book.
The time is 1:10am. Contractions are about four minutes apart. They’re quite sore. But they’re meant to be sore … Aren’t they? Should I wake Husband up now? Oooooh, that’s a weird pain in my side. Like, it’s not going away. At all. I thought contractions came and went. Hmmm. Should I be worried? I wake Husband. He calls my midwife. He tells her about the weird pain in my side. She says it’s probably nothing but we should go to the hospital and get it checked out. OK. This is it. I squeeze on some clothes that definitely don’t match but I also definitely don’t care because my almost-baby has started his journey down my birth canal and it’s not very comfortable. Husband grabs our bags, and as he closes the door I sneak a final glance at our cosy little home that will never have only the two of us in it again.
I don’t remember much about the ride to the hospital except that it’s excruciating. We park on yellow lines right outside the ED because #thuglife. Somehow we find the maternity ward, and somehow I end up in a hot shower while vomiting up the delicious burger I had for dinner. Oh yeah. One of the signs of transitional labour is vomiting. Cool, guys.
Checks tell us that the solid pain in my side is nothing, but that the spawn currently residing in my loins is posterior. Fortunately, he’s quite happy and healthy. Unfortunately, posterior babies inflict much more pain than whatever the opposite of posterior babies is. I decide to check out the birthing pool because water is meant to be all healing and holistic and stuff.
It’s not. I last 40 minutes before clambering out of the tub and begging for an epidural. The lady with the drugs arrives after God knows how long and lists off all the terrible things that could happen to me because a needle that’s as long as my forearm is about to be thrust into my lumber. All I can think is JUST STICK IT IN ME ALREADY but all I say is “Yes, yes, I agree, you will not be held liable for anything terrible that happens to me”. I am incredibly restrained considering how much I want to punch her face in. But finally she does her job. I squeeze down onto Husband’s hands for far harder and longer than I think he can handle but of course he would never say he was in pain because I’m in labour, and suddenly I feel like I’m in heaven … despite being strapped up to a bunch of machines while wearing an incredibly fetching hospital gown and no underwear.
After I don’t know how many hours, it’s time to push. Fast-forward a bunch more hours and I have only pushed out poop nuggets, no babies. Some guy arrives to poke around in my nether regions. “You’ve been pushing for three hours,” he says. Oh really. I hadn’t noticed. “The baby’s head is stuck,” he says. Oh yup. Good news, then. “You could continue pushing and risk ripping yourself in half (paraphrased) (let’s not do that), or you could have an emergency C-section.”
My midwife is one of those natural ones. I love her, but I fear she is already disappointed that I’ve given up on the whole pain-free natural virginal birth that everyone rates as being this amazing achievement that really makes a woman a real woman. Sure, that’s what’s natural and in an ideal world that would be, um, ideal, but how many millions of babies have been delivered perfectly via the sunroof, and how many millions of mamas have avoided certain death because of the very invention of the sunroof? I’m scared to ask her what she thinks. I’ve already asked for an epidural; surely going for a C will give me an F in Birthing. “I think you should have a C section,” she kindly says as she prepares to shave my foofoo. I love her a little bit more, while instantaneously berating myself for not getting a pre-birth wax OH WHYYYYYYYYYYY.
I am a huge fan of Grey’s Anatomy. As I lie on the theatre table with eight masked faces looking down at me, I half expect McDreamy to pop his head up over the sheet that prevents me from seeing my own insides. Husband whispers to me that the rope that’s heading up past my head is attached to a sand bag that’s holding the top flap of my stomach open, so that’s lovely.
There’s a lot of tugging going on. The baby’s head is really stuck. It feels like the obstetrician is really putting his back into it. Husband tells me afterwards that the obstetrician actually put his knee up on the table to give himself more leverage. I’m not even kidding. Unless Husband is. I’m actually not sure now. Note to self: ask Husband what really happened. ****
Suddenly I feel a weird burning sensation in my lady bits. Like right inside. I casually (drugged-up-ally) mention that I think I can feel the surgeons doing stuff downstairs. The anaesthetic technician by my head exclaims, “Say what?” Everyone puts down their tools and steps back from the table while I’m pumped with more drugs. The drugs don’t totally dull the pain. No – it’s not really a pain, it’s more like a really long sting. The obstetrician tells me I have literally less than 20 seconds to go before the baby comes out. Apparently the cervix is very sensitive during situations like these. I’ve got two choices: knock me out completely, have no cervix discomfort but also have no husband beside me, or get high on some gas while they finish it off in literally less than 20 seconds. “Give me the gas,” I say. “McDreamy has got this covered.”
And literally less than 20 seconds later I hear the first cries of my beautiful baby boy.
*** Shoot me now.
**** I can now confirm. This is the truth.