Welcome to my new series: Not Everything is Black and White.
Freezing a moment, or taking a photograph, can reveal how rich reality truly is. In this moment you can almost see the humanity, and when you revisit the moment it can feel completely different to how you were actually feeling at that time. It’s so grey, literally and metaphorically.
So I wanted to start a series where bloggers can share these #grey moments, either through a photo or a story, or both. If you’re interested in being apart of the series, find out more here, and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the first post of the series I would like to welcome one of my favourite bloggers…..The Squirmy Popple, a cheese-loving new-ish mum’s attempt to tackle the (mostly) funny side of parenting, with the occasional rant about feminism and politics.
I think giving birth is one of those grey areas – obviously you’re happy to meet your baby at the end of it and relieved the whole thing is over, but you’re also exhausted, in pain, overwhelmed and probably pretty gross.
I’ve seen lots of people share their birth stories on their blogs, so I’ve decided to write yours down in case you’re ever curious.
It was 2am. I woke up with cramps but I didn’t think much of it, since I’d been having Braxton Hicks (‘practice’) contractions for weeks at that point and they hadn’t led to anything. I tried to fall back asleep, but the cramps kept coming at regular intervals.
“Holy s**t,” I thought. “This might be it.”
I went into the spare room to get Daddy. (He was sleeping in a separate bed because I was using a pregnancy pillow that took up three quarters of our bed.)
“I think I’m in labour,” I said.
“Harrmgh,” Daddy said, because it was about 3am and he was very tired. Still, he got up and went into the living room with me, where we turned on the TV and started watching Saved By the Bell. Saved by the Bell is a TV show from the early 90s about teenagers who wear horrible neon clothes and get into G-rated high school capers. It was the perfect show to watch while in labour because it required absolutely no thinking whatsoever.
“Why don’t you make some flapjacks?” said Daddy. At our antenatal class, the instructor had suggested making flapjacks during the early stages of labour to distract ourselves as well as give us something that we could eat later to give us energy. Daddy liked this idea because it meant that he would get to eat flapjacks too.
“I’m not making flapjacks,” I said, because the last thing you want to do when you you feel like someone is squeezing your uterus is bake.
“You need to eat something,” he said, so I grudgingly ate a protein bar and went back to watching Zack and the crew. I felt kind of okay, actually. The contractions felt like mild period cramps, and I figured if this was what labour was like, I didn’t know what all the fuss was about.
I texted Grandma and she came over. By that point, the cramps were getting worse. I phoned the hospital. They encouraged me to labour at home for as long as possible, reminding me that if I went in and wasn’t dilated enough, they would send me home.
I got off the phone and tried to relax, but felt like someone was punching my inside lady parts repeatedly. Twenty minutes later, I phoned them back and told them I was coming in.
I’d had visions of walking to the hospital to have this baby. It was only a 10 minute walk away, so there was no reason not to, right? I’d told my midwife this and she’d made a face.
Now I knew why.
Daddy, Grandma and I took a taxi to the hospital and I was sent to the assessment room, where a nurse hooked me up to a heartbeat monitor and left the room. By now I was in A LOT of pain. I called her back in and begged for pain relief.
“I can give you some paracetamol,” she said.
I stared at her blankly. Really? There’s a person inside of me who’s trying to squeeze their way out, and you want to give me f***ing PARACETAMOL?
“Are you going to take it? Because if you’re not, I need to take it away,” she said.
I took the paracetamol.
She brought in an exercise ball for me to sit on and my waters broke all over it. The water was brownish, which I knew meant you had done a poo inside me – your first act of defiance.
The nurse wheeled me up to the labour ward, where I began several hours of intense labouring. I wish I could say that I handled it like a boss, that labour was a spiritual experience that helped me fully embrace my womanhood, but I can’t. I was really bad at it. I lay there on the hospital bed, desperately sucking on gas and air and moaning with my bits on display for all to see.
“You’re doing great,” the midwife kept telling me, but that was a lie. I could not get you out, despite my best efforts to push like I was taking the biggest poo of my life. I announced that I was giving up many times.
She brought in a second midwife to play bad cop. “You can do better than that. Come on! Push harder!” she barked.
It didn’t work. I had no energy. I should have made those flapjacks.
I wondered if they would just cut you out of me eventually, which sounded heavenly compared to this whole labour business. I didn’t care that a c-section is serious surgery, or that it leaves a scar, or that it takes weeks to recover from. I just wanted you out, and I really didn’t think I could do it by myself.
And, as it turns out, I couldn’t.
When your heart rate started to drop, the midwife brought in a doctor who said they were going to “give me some help” and asked if that was okay.
“YES,” I said. Finally. I didn’t ask to many questions about what that help might entail, because I would have let them do anything to me at that point, but it meant having a ventouse delivery. They put a suction cup on your head and kind of sucked you out of me.
And all of a sudden, there you were. Plonked on my chest, all goopy and sucking your thumb. It was pretty amazing, not only because I was really excited to finally meet you, but because I was NO LONGER IN LABOUR.
Seriously, labour is the worst.
You were worth it, though.