I thought it would be fitting to make my first post based on where it all began-labour 💀. All mums have to endure it, alot solemly swear that they want NO more children after the experience and even more forget it ever happened after a few months and brand it as a ‘beautiful’ experience. Maybe we are all being fooled by our own minds. Our uterus complains to the brain, saying ‘I feel unappreciated and insignificant, you make use of all the other organs, why not me anymore? Erase her memory and lie about the whole thing! Maybe even send signals using the heart to increase positive emotions?’ For those who settled with just one child, I guess some brains are just more loyal and have intergrity (weird joke, I know). Anyway, lets get stuck in.
Is it just me or are other mums’ labour stories fascinating? Especially when you yourself are expecting. We sit and listen attentively to every gruesome detail and even though we are fully aware it’s just increasing our own anxiety we beg for even more information. Here are the highlights (as in the important parts, not HIGH moments as it was very low for most of the time) of my two (very different) labour stories.
I gave birth to my DD on the evening of the 24th of May 2015 but my labour technically began a on the 22nd. It was a long, tiresome dragged out process which began as simple menstrual type cramps at Tesco whilst calmly buying groceries (being in denial) and progressed into being on all fours groaning in pain at home at 3am.
By 7pm that day I was at the hospital’s waiting room in the antenatal ward (they say its not AnE but its just as bad) but was only called in at 11pm. Confident that the midwife would feel the baby’s head ready to pop out when she examined me and then apologise profusely for making me wait so long, I lay back on the bed, ready to deliver, determined, excited, relieved and-
“Your 2cm dilated”
A very typical thing to happen according to a lot of mothers I have spoken to about labour with their first baby but nevertheless a very low moment in my life. It took a total of 18 hours to get from 2 to 10cm dilation. I wonder, what exactly is happening during the many hours of pain if th cervix isn’t dilating? Its like the body is saying ‘nope, not ready to let this baby out, I’ve been looked after so well since they came along! If they leave, so will all the healthy foods I’ve been fed!’ (Although I wasn’t eating fantastically in either of my pregnancies and hid behind Pregnacare, I’m just awful like that). So in short (ironic to use this word), it was an extremely long labour.
Contrastingly so, labour with my SS was very quick. It began at 6pm on the 16th of May 2017 and ended at 4.10am on the 17th. As with my DD, I was in denial at first as I’m sure most mums feel about the lovely, subtle early contractions (‘No, maybe it’s just a stomach ache’-‘oo, actually I think this might be it’-‘I think I just need to go toilet’-‘Its becoming quite regular’-‘No, I’m not even due!-‘I’m hungry‘). However, very quickly it became unbearable and I ended up sitting in the hospital waiting room at 3am.
As most mothers from the UK know, the hospitals there will ruthlessly send you home if you are not considered as being in ‘active labour’, which is when your cervix is 4cm dilated (Oh you don’t like that? Tough, its free). So as I was sitting down observing a woman in the room with me groaning dramatically through her contractions whilst her partner awkwardly patted her back not knowing what to do (typically), I was feeling disheartened. Whilst barely making any noise through my contractions, I thought ‘they are sooo going to send me home, she’s so much more far gone than me, I wish I could be her, look how cool she looks with her superior, serious contractions. Maybe I should start screaming too?’. I’d already had a ferocious debate with my husband and mother outside the hospital when they tried to put me in a wheel chair (‘If you put me in a wheel chair my contractions won’t be as strong and they’ll just send us all home!’-‘You can barely walk though! We opted for using it until we got outside the labour ward then parked it outside) so for the first time in my life I wanted to feel more pain. I had only been in labour for 9 hours so my chances of being offered a comfortable bed and some pain relief looked bleak. If things couldn’t feel any worse, a health care assistant said to me whilst I was waiting (rather nastily) ‘You don’t look like your in active labour’. I hated her.
Anyway, when I was finally seen by a midwife (she looked at me like I was a weak joke, too), she told me to lay down and proceeded in the uncomfortable procedure. I waited, not daring to hope, but hoping anyway-
Shocked and elated but still trying to look like I’m in serious pain, I was shortly lead to my room. I saw the stupid health care assistant on my way and walked past her smugly (well as smug as you can be with a limp).
Then 15 minutes later, with two big pushes, my SS was born.
That may seem like a brief ending to that story and this is because it was an amazingly brief labour. What I learned from this is that all mothers can hope for is a quick delivery, not a painless one. It was EXCRUCIATING, but also over before I knew it which is what I dream all my labours in the future can be like (yep, I’ve got a dishonest brain and want more children).
You know them strong, wilful mothers who insist on no pain relief during labour and opt for natural methods like hypnobirthing or whatever?
I’m not of them.
I have never really been opposed to pain relief. Maybe that makes me ‘weak’ for choosing to make an agonising experience less agonising (as I have been made to feel in the past by the judgemental type of mothers that we unfortunately have amongst us) but thats my choice.
So of course in my labour with my DD I behaved like a complete drug abuser and begged for whatever the hospital could spare. I found Diamorphine to be the best thing ever (once the dose kicked in I loved the midwife who gave it to me, my husband, all the hospital staff and the general public). Unfortunately ‘gas and air’ wasn’t as effective for me (is that even considered a drug?) although a lot of mothers swear by it so would never rule it out in the future.
Yes, I had the epidural (I’m such a wuss) eventually. I’ve always heard amazing things about it such as ‘the pain COMPLETELY went!‘ and ‘I was astonished when I saw my baby, didn’t even notice her come out!‘. This turned out to be only half true. Yes, it eased my contractions but NO it wasn’t painless thereafter. After 45 minutes of pushing (or whatever it is you try to do under an epidural) I felt the Ring Of Fire- the feeling of the baby’s head leaving the building- so strongly that I kept stopping mid-push and apologising profusely for giving up (I have a bad habit of apologising for everything. I said sorry to a poll once when I bumped into it). The midwife said to me “don’t worry, this feels like someone is using their fingers to stretched out the sides of your mouth (HOW DOES YOU SAYING THAT HELP ME?!), you just have to push through it!” I only managed to ‘push through it’ when I was told my DD’s heart beat was dropping but can say it was absolutely dreadful. As well as this, the epidural takes away the sensation to push, thereby makes it a much harder process. Would I opt for it again?Probably not.
There is only one thing that labour with my DD and SS had in common- the ending. There is nothing like holding your baby for the first time. Knowing that it was all over, after living inside me for 9 months, seeing them only in my scans and feeling their little kicks, going everywhere with them and thinking of them always, I got a sense of ‘there you are’. So small, fragile, dependant and all mine. I cried both times 🙈.
After seeing them, would I rewind and go through all that again? A thousand times over.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Apologies for the length, but it really was a very long story.
P.S- I will endeavour to post something weekly, possibly every Monday so look out for my next post 😊