Monday, January 31, 2011


[You know who you are: read at own risk.] 

It was nearly a year ago I got home from waddling round the mall to find my brother playing ball with Frieda in the front yard. I jokingly looked at my (non-existent) watch and told him to stand by for my water's breaking at 5pm.
Ha ha ha.

They did.

At 5pm my water's broke as I was frying sausages for Frieda's supper. I called my husband, on his way to get a haircut. He asked if he had time to get it done anyway, this being our second child of course I said yes.
I called my Mum to come and collect Frieda. Standing there leaking, sausages burning, I looked over to see Frieda standing in a puddle.
'I had a wee Mum.'
This should've been my first clue that I was soon to learn the real meaning of 'multi-tasking'.

By the time my Mum and husband got home I was contracting, seriously enough to be unable to talk while in the middle of one, grinning inanely and trying to pretend everything was dead normal for Frieda's sake.
We kissed and hugged our first baby goodbye, brimful with the knowledge she was completely unaware of, next time we saw her there would be two.

To hospital, contractions close and getting stronger, this much I remembered from last time.

But again, once we got there, the disappointing news that I'd not dilated at all. However this time we knew we wanted to stick it out, and we did.
The next few hours were ... interesting. If I can say that the most uncomfortable experience of my life was also one of the most precious to share with my husband, that I've never been in such pain, but also laughed as much, that I've never been so scared while simultaneously so excited, then I'd be telling a true story, but a weird one.
We worked in 15 minute increments to pass the time until my next examination at 11.30 pm. 15 minutes in the bath, 15 walking, 15 on the labour ball. During contractions I needed to be held, inbetween I wanted to be left the fuck alone. My husband was amazing.
Oy those contractions. The scariest thing about them was the inevitability. With period pains or stomach cramps one sometimes feels one starting, only for it to taper off or not be as bad as you expected. With labour pains the first twinge means it's a-coming, and it's going to be as bad as you anticipate, if not worse.
A rubber mallet swung at full force into your spine while a knife blade is plunged and twisted into your stomach. There's no position you can find to alleviate them, nothing to do but breathe. Breathe and try to find a calm place within the onslaught, relax your shoulders, breathe into the pain. Truer words were never spoken.
And then it stops, and you're totally ok. Like have a chat, have a wine gum, make a joke ok. Crazy shit man.

11.30 pm check up. Nothing happening.
Nothing where it should be that is, plenty was happening outside let me tell you. By now I was losing my sense of humour, spitting wine gums across the room, cursing, whimpering, caught in this thing over which I had no control, no way but forward, no way of knowing what the time-line looked like, the only certainty being we were nowhere near the end.
12.30 am. Nothing happening.
Oh except the vomiting. And the exhaustion. 'Til now I'd been trying new positions for each contraction, trying to stay active in the moment. My husband, my dearest, my light, showing limitless creativity in his suggestions of how we tackle the next one. But now I was done. I couldn't get up, I couldn't spend one more minute on that fucking labour ball, I didn't want a chair, I didn't want a bath, I just. wanted. it. to. stop.
Or start for that matter. Let's move on, let's transition, let's have a frikkin' baby already!

That's when I heard the magic word: epidural. Hallelujah praise baby jesus yes fucking please.


A weird peace. I feel nothing but I'm cold. A distant tremor like a train passing far away, a look on the monitor reveals a massive contraction, my toes tingle.
Husband dozes in a chair, I feel ill, disembodied and, inevitably, guilty. I can see from the baby monitor that my girl is in there, now working alone. She's riding those waves while I watch from the shore.
The nurse comes in and puts another blanket over me. 'Try get some rest,' she says, 'we'll check again at 3. Try get some rest my dear.'

I think I must've dozed off for I wake with a start. And a panic. My legs, totally immobile, are flopped together, I need to move. I need to move my legs. I need to move my legs!
Panic rising in my throat, I put all my energy into keeping my voice steady, calling for my husband. Poor guy wakes, totally disorientated, and by the time he gets over to me to adjust my position the nurse has arrived too.
She examines me and grins. 9 cm dilated! Game on! My heart surges anew with adrenalin and enthusiasm. I'm transitioning, my body's caught up, we're going to have this baby!

But then, an ominous beeping from the monitor - she's in distress.. The nurse calls my doctor. It's 4 am. The four of us, him on the other end of the phone line, wait and watch the monitor. Her heartbeat dips again. Doc says he's coming in and through a haze of emotional overload I realise he's asked the nurse to call in the standby theatre team.
He's there in minutes, examines me himself, checks the monitor readings, gives us the news.
I'm well dilated.
But she's not engaged.
And she's not happy.
And as I've had a c-section before, he thinks it's time to call it quits.
Though I'm sure he didn't actually use that word.

5 am by the time we got up to theatre. The hospital was still and quiet. My long-haired anesthetist joked that he thought he'd sorted us out hours before with the epidural. Then he noted, just for interest sake, that my heart seemed to miss every 4th beat. Funny guy. Not.
But they were a nice team, put us at ease and, as is always the case with c-sections, it felt like mere minutes after being wheeled in that they were passing me a funny, creamy, oh so warm little thing with one wild rolling eye-ball and a deeply suspicious expression.
Apparently I turned to my husband and said, 'Aw let's have another one.'

Nearly 11 months later I most definitely do not want to have another one, but I can still recall the feeling of each moment of that wild, wild night. The pain, the fear, the excitement and of course, the joy.

And now I've finally gotten it written down for prosperity. Sorry y'all!


janice said...

So know the feelings. I went through a second labor after a c-section. I was not supported as well as it sounds like you were. Thanks for sharing.

sunshine said...

Oh WOW, that was quite a story, thanks for sharing such intimate moments... I don't have any kids (because that's my choice) and this tell didn't change my view on that aspect at all... Don't get me wrong, I love kids, but not up for the whole having them deal!

Stephanie Meade Gresham said...

Very good story-telling. And there wasn't any mention of mucus or blood or labor-farts anywhere!!

Let's have a frikkin baby!

dbs said...

As a man who witnessed this three times I can tell you that I can relate to your husband. I was very calm and focused too even though my wife was fond of gripping the front of my shirt with her fists every time there was a contraction. Consequently, over the course of her labors, she ripped most of the hair out of my chest. I'm just saying it hurts us too and yes it's joyful and intense and a marathon of bizarre-ness.

Anonymous said...

I read anyway, despite your warning! I must admit to generally avoiding birth stories at this point! Noms