There is nothing that anyone can say to prepare you for childbirth. Each woman’s experience is so different; you never know how it will be for you! ~ Poppy Montgomerry
Giving Birth to a child is the most overwhelming, beautiful, empowering and indescribable feeling ever. It is a lot of things. What it isn’t though, is pretty. It is not a pretty process at all.
By Friday the 15th of December 2017, my womb felt like it was shuddering not contracting. I was so uncomfortable. I was hardly eating. I didn’t feel like it. I couldn’t sleep. I would just lie down and hug my body pillow for hours on end. Sometimes I succumbed to an exhausted nap but I would wake up in no time at all thanks to the discomfort. That morning I went back to the doctor for what he called a stress test. It was intended to make sure the baby was not in distress despite the acute discomfort I was feeling. It consisted of sticking many little nodes that hooked up to an anciet looking machine that operates like a lie detector onto my tummy so they could read what was going on in there.
The verdict returned: the baby was fine but I had an irritable uterus and mild, irregular contractions. Of course we were quick to ask what that means in general and what it meant for me in particular. The one liner response from doctor dearest was “the baby wants to come out.” That’s it. He didn’t continue or elaborate. Mxm! I was an irritable mum to be at this stage. After paying you to look at my hoohah and inside my belly soooo many times over 10 months, I deserve answers dang it. I remember asking, so am I going into labour. I kid you not, his answer was “of course. nature demands that you go into labour sooner or later with or without my help.” Cue frustration. So I asked again, what are you going to do about this now?
Him: Nothing. Go home for now and if it gets worse then go straight to the maternity ward. Come back for another stress test on Monday.
It better be free I thought as I waddled out.
I went to see him again on Monday packing a passive aggressive attitude and exhaustion. I was suffering, I was in pain, I was tired and I was annoyed with my doctor but what was I to do? I didn’t want to have an outright fight with a guy who could be cutting into me anyday now. They hooked me up again and this time there was no mistaking the contractions. They had become more distinct over the weekend but they were still irregular. He checked and my cervix was still closed. The baby was fully engaged but he was not stressed so we were sent home again. This time though, he checked his c-section schedule before sending us home. Despite his annoying nonchalance, I could sense he was worried. He asked me to come back on Wednesday the 20th.
On Monday I cleaned some more. I couldn’t stop. Even with everything aching, the desire to keep preparing was overwhelming. My husband’s pleas that I please rest were ignored (or I would pretend to rest until he left for work and then I would be out the door). On Monday night my back started aching up a storm. I wasn’t going to go back to be told to come back home so I didn’t say anything. I just tossed and turned and tossed and turned. Eventually I suggested that my poor husband sleep in the guest room for a day or 2 because he was wiped out too. There was no sense in keeping us both awake. I remember standing in the queue at Mr Price Home buying completely non-essential items that I felt like I couldn’t live without on Tuesday afternoon feeling like a little fire was burning in my lower back and swearing up and down to my husband on the phone that I was at home. By Tuesday night, the contracting was more defined.
I lay down for the night. At 3.05am my eyes flew open because I felt my first huge contraction. I had worried that I wouldn’t recognise the real deal when it came… there was absolutely no mistaking it. It. Was. Painful. Lord it was painful. It felt like my stomach was squeezing long and hard and bearing down all on its own. My participation was not required. It lasted for what felt like forever before suddenly releasing.
Now that I was in labour, all the YouTube videos I had watched kicked in. I checked the time and wrote it down. I got up and laid my hospital outfit on the bed and then I lay down again and waited. 15 min later…contraction number 2 hit and I gritted my teeth while watching the time. It lasted 60 seconds. I decided not to wake my husband up. After all, YouTube said to only go to the hospital when the contractions were 10 mins apart. The contractions were consistent, long and painful. By 4am, I couldn’t be in bed anymore. I got up and started pacing up and down.
Each contraction felt like my body was trying to squeeze all my insides out without any help from me. It was accompanied by the urge to go boom boom on the potty. I went to the loo almost as many times as I had contractions. By 5am I was seriously considering waking my husband up. The rational me reminded me that he would probably be up for a very long time once he was awake and there was no need to stress since we were meant to see the doctor at 8am anyway. Right? Right.
So I got into the shower instead. I came out, dressed up. Paced. Did my eyebrows. Paced. Packed a few makeup items that I didnt look at again for 3 months and paced. At 6.00am, my husband’s alarm went off. I walked over to the guest room and calmly said, “good morning. My contractions have started.”
My husband was having none of my particular brand of zero urgency. At 6.30am he bundled me into the maternity ward at Sunninghill Hospital…40 min away from our house. Do the math. When you do, factor in a 2min shower (I insisted), a change of clothes and parking. I think we flew.
From there things moved really quickly in rather undignified fashion. A lovely nurse asked me to take off everything and put on a backless hospital gown. I took everything off save for my panties. That was naked enough right? No. She asked for those to go too before she, the lovely stranger that she was, examined my pubes and announced that she was quickly going to shave me. I was having none of that. There I was, an obstinate, mostly naked, pregnant lady arguing with a nurse holding shaving cream and a shaving stick about shaving my pubes.
I thought that was undignified… there was worse to come. The fact that it felt like a whole bunch of strangers kept taking a peek at my hoohah and feeling about up there for cervical dilation comes to mind. My doctor was in and out of my room over and over. I couldn’t tell if he was uneasy or I was just nervous. At 08.00am, the doctor checked the readings on his little machine and announced, “OK. I am going to find an OR. the nurses will come and get you.” In typical fashion, he didn’t explain but clearly Act I: the Vaginal Birth had come to an abrupt end. It was time for Act II: the emergency C-Section…