An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Thursday, July 15, 2004  

Giving birth - the REAL story (I)

I'll skip all the politics and choices and get straight to labour. Otherwise I'll keep putting it off. Huge post so settle down. Posted in three parts.
So I'm 16 days overdue. The previously absent stretch marks have now destroyed my abdomen. Finally I get some backpain and the odd cramp. The numerous curries, clary sage oil and walks have had some impact. I march up and down the road, terrified that if this stops I'll face the dreaded inducement and it's 30% risk of a caesarian. By 10pm there is still nothing dramatic. I might as well have some mild period pain. But I know that this is typical pre-labour pain and perhaps by morning I might get some real contractions going. I have a "show" which has been so mis-described to me that I call the midwife out of fright. I went to the loo and rather than the 'slightly blood stained mucus discharge' as the "show" is defined in every text book I've read; something that looks like a really large raw chicken wing falls out of me. For the uneducated this is the plug in the bottom of the womb that keeps the baby from falling out. Hubby and I inspect it in the loo and the midwife assures us there's nothing to be alarmed about.
I take 2 panadol as per her instructions and go to bed. He falls asleep very quickly and I just lie there in discomfort but without any actual contraction.
Suddenly at about 4am I feel something very different. An urgent need to go the loo. I run and just as I sit down three separate things happen. The first is that my bowels explode. It looks like crude oil. The second is that my waters break. They are brown. BAD news. That means there is miconeum in them (baby-poo) and if the baby inhales that, there could be fetal distress. But as I observe in total amazement, shock and horror the contents of the toilet I get a contraction. This is often described as being like an elastic band tightening around the belly.
I would describe it like this. Someone is standing 20m behind you and having taken a really good sprint, whacks a baseball bat into your back. The force throws me forward on to my hands and knees and I gasp rather than scream. It doesn't last too long, and I collect myself, yell for hubby and tell him we're going to the hospital, call the midwife and help me get dressed. "Are you sure?" he asks. "Just do it" I beg before another one whacks me and I'm back on the floor.
The midwife wants to talk to me on the phone to make sure I'm really in labour. Their test is, if you can talk during a contraction then its too early. I run out, swear that the waters are brown and drop the phone as I dash back to the bathroom. The reason for the presence in the bathroom is that every time you get another contraction more water comes gushing out and despite everything I'm conscious of the carpets.
I dress quickly. When I arrive at the hospital I realise what I am wearing. A white t-shirt. A full length tent denim dress that buttons down the front. White ankle socks. Brown timberland sandals. As its November I've thrown on an old, cheap, but warm fake fur coat. It's big enough to cover the bump.
We leave the apartment; hubby practically dragging me. Another one hits in the lift. I crawl out on all fours. There's another one before we leave the building. We manage to get to the car. The warmth of the night strikes me. Its warm, on a November night in Ireland? All fours on the backseat, head stuck in the baby seat, installed in preparation. My husband drives VERY carefully to the hospital. Hits ALL the potholes. (Admittedly it is a bad road but it seemed cruelly careless at the time).
Somewhere on the journey I realise I am faced with a choice. Keep it together or lose it. Fuckit. I'm having a baby. All the women on telly scream their heads off. Why can't I? I decide to lose it. In retrospect, a poor decision. But I'd never given birth before and the women on the telly weren't good role models. The videos of Brazillians in the ante-natal class, silently squatting, were clearly fakes.
We pull up outside the hospital. It's all very gothic and hubby bangs on the old wooden doors. A porter arrives out and offers to assist my exit from the car. Dublin accent. "C'mon now love, we'll get you inside". Not on your nelly.
Now I'm wailing. "Noooooooooo. I can't mooooove". Miraculously he backs me out of the car. A sandal is lost. They haul me up the old steps and as I come in the door I get another contraction. I collapse on the floor clinging to the arm of an old bench and let rip as it takes hold. I can see the faces of a middle aged receptionist lady and a second porter peering over the top of a counter. They seem mildly curious about my disgraceful lack of composure.
A wheelchair is produced. "Noooooooooooo. I caaaaaaaaaaan't sit down." "C'mon now love, we'll get you upstairs." This guy is staff member of the year. Next thing I'm in the chair and he and hubby practically sprint out of the lift and towards the delivery suite with me wailing the whole way. In my denim tent dress,faux fur and ankle socks.
He wants the wheelchair back and I can see the midwife running around getting the room ready. (It clicks with me that she's not in Room 9, the mythical birthing room with the dim lighting and soft music. I'm in a bog standard operating theatre style thing.)
"Noooooooooooo". Clinging to the chair I hadn't wanted to sit in 3 mins previously. Next thing I'm back on the floor, clinging to a chair and the puking starts. A student nurse runs out. "Is she in labour?" "Of course I am you stupid cow" I say in my head but show remarkable restraint and concentrate on feeling hugely sorry for myself. She tries to persuade me off the floor. "I know its a hospital but the floor mightn't be all that clean". No way. The room is prepared and midwife and hubby drag me up and onto the bed.
The big panic is get a monitor in to see if the baby is ok. Heartbeat's fine. HUGE relief.

posted by Sarah | 10:24 0 comments
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