I have heard it said that women in labour leave their bodies. They travel to the stars to collect the souls of their babies and then return to this world together. While I prefer to think that our babies souls exist in us from the day of conception, there is something I love about this saying and for the most part the former is true : We do leave our bodies. We leave all sense of earthly self and reality behind us when we birth our babes. As we labour to bring new life into the world, we enter what can only be described as outer-worldly.
I know this because giving birth to my daughter on the 19th of July 2017 I entered another realm of consciousness. I know that sounds, like so spiritual but it’s true. There’s just no other way to describe it. I left behind me all concept of time and space. As with all stories, it’s best I start from the very beginning.
On the 19th of July at exactly 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant, I went in to hospital to be induced. I had decided on an induction because that’s the way it ended up with both my boys and I really felt my body would follow the same pattern (this despite early labour signs at 33 weeks with this baby and my my previous one). I thought if I were slowly induced I would would be in labour for anywhere between 10 and 16 hours, the same time it taken to delver my previous babies. But I should have known better right? I mean no two births are the same and third child is a bit of a wild card they say.
We woke up early that morning and when I opened my eyes I felt excitement wash over me. I realised that this would be the day I finally met my daughter! After months of sickness and discomfort and threats of early labour, I would finally look into my baby’s eyes and know it was all worth it. I felt at ease with our decision and if anything only felt excitement as I anticipated what lay before me. It’s funny how our need to meet our babies and the excitement that all that entails always out-weighs the nervous anxiety about the pain and discomfort that is yet to come. What’s even more amazing is that we forget the pain of child birth. Maybe not immediately, but soon enough to consider having another baby and going through it all again.
I felt ready. I mean i had 9 months after all to dream about this day and to be honest meeting her couldn’t come soon enough. We headed to the hospital early that Wednesday morning and on “check in” we were told there may be a delay due to ‘overcrowding’. Basically there was no room at the Inn. There were just too many women whose babies were either threatening to come early or going to be born in the next few hours. Either way, the 3 delivery rooms were full and we were told to come back later. We considered starting the induction in the maternity ward and hoping to God there would be a labour ward free by the time I came to push , but it sounded a little too risky and in hindsight we can only thank the heavens that we didn’t.
Instead, we went for breakfast and then went home to sit on the couch in front of the heater and wait for the hospital to call and say ” You can come in now, there’s a room that’s opened up!” I watched an amazing documentary about this hippie family who travel the globe with their little boy and surf all over the world. In it, the mom gives birth to their second child, a beautiful baby girl. They show parts of the birth and that moment when she meets her baby. It was the perfect way to spend those last three hours with my baby safely curled up in my swollen belly.
At 3pm we got the call to say we should come back and were met with my gynae and a lovely midwife Lindsay. By 4 pm they had inserted the gel and within 15 minutes I was having some really nice contractions. If i was telling you this story face to to face you would have picked up on my sarcasm. By nice i mean, pretty serious full-on painful contractions – nothing compared to the gentle contractions I experienced with Brody. I felt them come in strong waves that lasted 40 seconds and were less than a minute apart. Yup, within 15 minutes!
Lindsay told me that this wasn’t necessarily a sign of how close we were to labour as often what can happen with inductions is the contractions start off strong and then taper off to become more controlled and regular. But like most women, my gut told me that these contractions meant business as they were already very regular and very strong. I spent half an hour in the maternity ward before moving to the labour ward, barely able to walk the 20 meters without feeling like something was about to exit my neither regions. I bounced on a ball for 20 minutes before my gynea came at 5.30 to check on me again. She confirmed that I was 5 cm dilated, although not even she had any idea of just how close I was to pushing my baby out. It had been such a long day and I was feeling wiped (and was not enjoying the contractions all that much) so I decided to take her up on the very kind offer to have an epidural. She told me she would call our lovely friend Brian (yes I’m on first name bases with my anethatist) to come and sort me out.
At this point my contractions were getting pretty severe, I had to really concentrate on my breathing and found myself counting my fingers as a way of getting through each one. Lindsay suggested I try to eat something and I kept thinking, there was no ways I could, what between the 50 second long contractions that were hitting hard every 40 seconds? I don’t think so lady.
She must have picked up on my inability to move (never mind eat a plate of hospital food) so she suggested Brendon run downstairs to buy me a coke to keep my energy levels up. I can remember very clearly trying to articulate the fact that I didn’t want coke, that I wanted a Fanta Orange but I couldn’t even get the words out. The pain was literally debilitating and there was no doubt that the contractions were getting stronger. I even, at this point felt huge pressure on my cervix with every contraction.
This is when things really started to move faster. Brendon came back not even 5 minutes later to find my waters had broken. Lindsay gave a little giggle and a happy chirp suggesting, things were indeed progressing really fast. I can remember wanting to give her a little slap when I saw her giggle at my expense and in hindsight i’m really glad I didn’t. I know woman scream and shout at nurses during labor but that could have landed me up in court and ruined the bond this birth created between myself and this legend of a woman. Makes you wonder about the abuse these nurses have endured over the years doesn’t it?
At this point I asked for my doctor and many or may not have sworn at her demanding the anethatist get his lovely little ass up there. Brian finally arrived to find me in half naked with a pain written all over my face. I was barely able to communicate with him, but I knew that if I wanted to get that epidural, I needed to focus and follow his instructions as best I could.
I kept feeling these urges to push but in my mind I just couldn’t accept that I was already at that point.I mean, I was only 5 cm dilated the last time my doc checked which was only 30 minutes before. I think deep down I knew things were getting closer – I couldn’t breath the pain was so bad an wanted to punch anybody in the face who told me to. Because i had dilated so fast, I had zero time to rest between contractions – basically it was one loooooong contraction that literally took my breath away. I needed some relief.
All was going quite smoothly, and we managed to get the spinal block in with little discomfort when another MASSIVe contraction hit, just as he was about to administer the anethestic into the tube. I must have been lashing out like a crazy woman because just as he began, one of the tubes burst open and the anehtestic squirted all over us! Brendon who was standing in front of me, got the bulk of the spray in his face and Brian casually said ” Oh no, you may feel had your face go a little numb”. It’s funny because that was one moment I came back to reality for a brief moment as I looked at Brian and said ” REALLY dude? Did that just happen?”
This is the part where i felt completely removed from reality. The transition period was reaching a peak – I barely acknowledged anybody in the room. It was just me and this little creature inside me. Nobody could come between us, not even the unbearable pain. I knew now what was happenning. I knew my body was preparing for the final moment.
Not even three hours after being induced, juuuuuuust as the epidural began to take effect I started pushing my baby out. I could still feel most of what was happening, but it took the edge off just enough for me to actually enjoy that moment without the pain. I keep thinking back to whether I should have had the epidural or not – I mean they say when you start to push you don’t feel the pain anymore, but besides the fact that we had NO idea how fast I had progressed, I’m glad i had it for two reasons 1. The transition period of my labour was so intense and quick, that I barely had chance to breath (I dilated 6 cms in 45 minutes yoh!!!) – having the epidural gave me a chance to get my breath back and 2. I don’t think i would have been able to enjoy that moment had I not. I went from feeling I was going to pass out from pain to a feeling of euphoria. The relief from pain combined with seeing my daughters face for the first time was truly the most magical moment. If i had to endure stitches and all that without pain relief I doubt that moment would have been that perfect. I think I would have been too shell- shocked to get through the last part without some sort of resentment showing its ugly head. I have a video clip of that final moment and if you saw it you would never have known the agony I was in just moments before. I’m smiling and calm. I’m present and focussed.
So, for someone who was expecting a slow induction, I sure as heck had no idea how fast things were going to progress. Just 2 and half hours of labour and I was face to face with my little girl. There were some dark moments,`i wont lie. Moments when I doubted my body and wondered if I had the strength to get through it all. But I did. And just like most woman will agree, you forget the pain. I sit here now tying this trying to describe the pain I endured in those final moments, but I can’t. It’s like our brains are literally wired to forget. Minutes afterwards I would have told you I would never go through that horror again, but here I am saying I would do it again a million times over. Not because I think I’m a hero or in ANY better than those who choose to have a caesar (that scares me shitless too!!) but because I doubted myself and feel proud knowing I did the unthinkable. I thought I wouldn’t live to tell the tale, but here I am, writing this post with my beautiful baby girl in her crib beside me. And I wouldn’t change her birth for anything in the world. Sans my husband having anaesthetic sprayed all over him of course.
So preggy mamas, know that if I can do it, anyone can. If a natural birth is what you want and you body plays accordingly then don’t fear birth. As hectic and as intense as it is, there is nothing quite like coming out of it the other side, with your beautiful baby in your arms. And for those that choose to have a caesar or are rushed to have one, that’s ok too. At the end of the day, the health and well- being of your baby is all that really matters. ♥
Ps I thought about posting my birth video here but I’m not sure everybody would have enjoyed it as much as I do. 🙂 Its not TOO graphic but some may feel its too private? Let’s have a vote to see who wants to see it in the comments below 🙂