If you ever want to try to engage in conversation with a new Mum, there is a sure fire way to get straight in there, and that is to initiate conversation about their labour. Ask a leading question and watch them come alive as they recall their most intimate experience, yet also one of their proudest achievements.
We all have a friend (or two) who have told us their birth stories so many times we feel as though we were their birthing partner. Inside we might be nodding off, yet we listen attentively, congratulating them on their bravery, and making all the right noises at all the right parts of the story.
It seems as though no two deliveries are ever the same – with different twists and turns (literally), and every account reaching different levels of drama and emergency, pain like you couldn’t imagine and descriptions of interventions and assistance at a variety of levels. It’s a rarity to hear a low key version of events; “It wasn’t too bad, there were no problems’. And let’s face it why would there be, this is likely to be one of the most bizarre experiences and focal points of our entire lives.
And of course, why shouldn’t we, as women milk these experiences for everything they are worth. We just squeezed a human being out of our vagina. Or, in some other equally traumatic scenarios, had a tiny live person lifted out of us with a major operation that sliced through our skin, our tissue, our abdominal muscles and our uterus. Not exactly a walk in the park.
Word on the street is that some folk can be less than kind about the method of delivery. You won’t be finding any of that nonsense here…I’m all for celebrating every style of being born. Quite frankly they could have pulled my babies out of my nose if it meant I had them safe in my arms.
And then there’s the whole thing about pain relief. Going natural and seeing how far I could go wasn’t even something I worried about first time around. Having gone 9 months without the dreamy sensation of a couple of sav blancs, and given I was already un-naturally being induced by a pigs-sperm hormone, I basically worked my way through the drugs menu from starters right through to dessert.
My labours have all been induced, for varying reasons. I guess I’ve always felt a little bit sad that I never got to experience that ‘get the bags’ moment, but like I said, out of my nose if I had to. Besides, the reality of those car journeys and walks through hospital corridors are often the height of the drama of the post birth debrief.
So none of my labours were at all natural. They were all pretty scary at points, and all involved a huge amount of intervention from the health care system I feel very lucky to have here in the U.K. God Bless our NHS.
Our own experiences have included foetal distress, episiotomy, emergency forceps delivery, stitches, low birth weight, and of course, the second delivery in which we said goodbye to our second daughter. That labour story sometimes gets forgotten – by everyone except us of course. All three deliveries had a lovely follow up of violent sickness, not exactly how I’d imagined the first moments with my daughter “Someone take her I’m going to be sick!”.
My experiences of labour however aren’t all bad. Given I always had the max amount of pain relief going, I can’t really complain about being in agony. God bless the person who invented the epidural; my Mum still can’t get over the fact I had a nap during the first stage of labour for my first child. And then, at the grand finale moment, as she described it head end was cracking jokes, while other end was like a scene from a horror movie, as they pulled our daughter out by her head with a giant pair of salad servers; foot on bed to anchor weight and heaving with all their might.
During the delivery of our youngest, it was eventually, a calm moment when she entered the world. We had a fair few hairy moments up to that point, but at the end of it all she seemed to just ‘fall out’ without me pushing.
I actually quite fancied the idea of a water birth for my last daughter. That seems to be a pretty magical experience to anyone who managed to have one. And I totally missed the hypnobirthing train too, I’d have liked to have given that a go? Although knowing my luck I’d have ended up with an emergency C-section after months of reading and meditating.
I actually have really funny and fond memories of my deliveries. Even the really bad ones had moments where we were laughing (and wondering how on earth we could be). Whilst on the never ending path of being induced with our youngest, I think I entered a zone of hysteria where I couldn’t stop laughing at all the other women on the ward (the ones who seemed to give birth ten minutes after having their drugs). I even asked the midwives if I could do any little jobs as I was so sympathetic to how busy they were. As each one returned for another shift they’d all declare “Still here?!” and assure me tonight would be the night (it wasn’t).
I can’t see any Angry Birds merchandise without remembering how my Mums advice for pushing was to ‘look like an angry bird’, or pick up pickled onion Monster Munch without thinking about how they were the snacks I packed (and tried to eat whilst 7cm dilated). I’ll never live down the waffle I spouted to my in-laws while high on gas and air, and I can’t walk the corridors of the local hospital without remembering every step I took walking laps, and laps, and laps trying to ‘get the baby moving’. The stairwells, the grounds, the canteen, the gardens…they’re all like old friends.
And then, of course there is that first sight of your beautiful child. All squishy and slimy, and no matter how many times you’ve watched One Born Every Minute, you can’t quite believe this was inside you moments ago. Your eyes meet, you say hello for the first time, and you are imprinted together forever more.
So, although we might internally roll our eyes as that lady begins the story of her first contraction, again, maybe we should all be a little more giving with our listening. Our birth stories are our battle tales, the ones we still can’t believe we endured and survived. Our real life miracles and, for most of us, the tale of how we came home having won the ultimate prize.
There’s a huge part of me that feels sad I won’t get to go through giving birth again – finding out whether I could do it without pain relief, and maybe having that water birth. But, I have always stood by the fact that high up on my bucket list is being a birthing partner. Maybe I’ll get the chance to see a grandchild, niece or nephew born one day. Being able to support my girls, my sisters or a friend go through the experience would be just incredible.
And anyway, it only takes one horror story of pain and too late for an epidural to bring me right back to reality.
PARENTHOOD | Anyone who knows my blog knows I never share face pics of the girls. Today I am breaking my rules because I’m celebrating five years of motherhood. Five years ago this morning I was handed this little bundle and little did I know it but my life would never be the same again. It’s been a journey filled with ups and downs; I haven’t always found it easy, but I wouldn’t change a thing. She’s turned into an amazing girl full of kindness, creativity and fun. While she’s celebrating being five, we’ll be raising a glass to surviving five years too 🍾🎈 . . . . . #coolmumclub #totsphoto #cherisheverymoment #simplepleasures #clickinmoms #littlefierceones #childhoodunplugged #thismamaloves #366daysofpositive #myhappycapture #pointshoot #dearphotographer #thatsdarling #takemyheartdear #oureverydaymoments #cameramama #littlefierceones #ig_motherhood #pixelkids #cherisheverymoment #thehappynow #rememberingthesedays #littleandbrave #childofig #pinklinker #happylittlebuttons #tribalchat #capturingtheday #throwbackthursday #livingfearlesslyauthentic