Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: The Birth Part: Take One

Friday, 10 March 2017

The Birth Part: Take One

So, there I am with my Gestational Diabetes, my blood that won’t clot, two weeks until D-day, one week into maternity leave, three days into our new house (fools) and I am sitting up in bed drinking my (decaf) coffee when I spring a leak. Husband is sitting next to me but I don’t mention it straight away. Initially I have to work out exactly what the source was before I own up to it. Whilst there is no great air of mystery in our marriage, I feel that if a little wee had escaped I should probably keep that one to myself. So I gingerly sidle out of the bed and, with my best nonchalant face, stand up and release an almighty deluge. The air may no longer be mysterious but the floor is decidedly wet.

It is worth noting at this point that my previous years of medical experience had always contradicted the classic American sitcom conspiracy that the rupture of membranes is the first sign of labour and would undoubtedly be followed by the immediate onset of contractions. I knew what not to expect but improbably my contractions commenced directly. With my, now, rather high risk gravidity we phone the maternity triage directly and are advised to attend as soon as we “please” (genuinely). Rightly or wrongly, following an assessment, we are sent back to the ranch to wait things out. Phil and Holly are there (not literally in the room but through the medium of the TV) and we must last a solid 40mins before we are back in the car on the way to triage. Contractions are thick, fast and agonising, conversation is lacking and resentment is building. Husband decides to “distract” me from the excruciating “discomfort” by taking the scenic route to the hospital. This teaches me a few things:

1.  Cobbles are not the labouring woman’s ally

2. Husbands can be cruel task masters and an intense loathing for one’s spouse during labour is an entirely acceptable emotion

3. A pretty vista does not divert anyone’s attention from the impending cannonball thrust through the vagina situation happening elsewhere

Finally we make the car park and forty minutes later we have navigated the 200yards to the triage desk where I throw myself upon their mercy, begging for help. Obviously, I don’t actually do this as I seem to have become some sort of mute and can now only communicate through grunts, wild gesticulations and shakes of the head. We are put on the monitor and the ever understaffed NHS (do not get me started) employees run around, each trying to do the work of ten (highly trained) others. So it is perhaps unsurprising that the decelerations which are slow to recover are missed and presumed to be a loss of contact. Perhaps, they will forgive the husband for getting rather testy with them when he felt that our baby was in danger and not getting the attention that it required. I will admit that no Tiger Mum erupted at this time, it was all I could do to breathe and I do not mean deep, centred, hypnobirthing breaths but mere drawing of air into the most superficial of lung tissue. He had this, he would see this baby right.

Sure enough, the decelerations are confirmed and we are moved upstairs to labour ward. The midwife vacates the room for a mere ten minutes, abandoning a terrified looking student, before a prolonged deceleration is audible and the cannonball is threatening to burst its way out my nether regions. The ashen faced student springs into action and hauls in the first passer-by who happens to be a Consultant. Huzzah! Happy Day, I hear you cry! No. The truth is, if you want a baby delivered normally then you want a midwife. Doctors are thoroughly trained to deal with an infant who is struggling to traverse the birth canal; they will guide them towards the light (sunroof or otherwise) and reassemble you afterwards. No problem. However, ask them to deliver a child the way nature intended and you will see utter terror flash across their face. They aren’t used to it, they haven’t been trained for it and they are just not comfortable doing it. There is too much inactivity, too much reliance on nature and too few instruments required.

Thankfully, my cannonball needed very little assistance and following a brief period of my pelvis threatening to shatter into fragments; she was here.

Upon reflection, it was actually a rather speedy process in comparison to other birth stories that I have heard and despite the ever growing pile of manure that had accumulated during my pregnancy very little of it truly hit the fan at the climactic moment. The inability to have an epidural (due to dearth of the required platelets and therefore the increased risk of bleeding) and the fear that a caesarean section under general anaesthetic was my only alternative should I be unable to birth my baby under my own steam added an extra terror to the birthing process and I swore that should I ever have to repeat I would sign myself up for an elective section. Whether I did or not, is another story

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