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Pregnancy, labour and the truth about the aftermath

by Ruby Smith

It was Monday, November 2nd and all of a sudden I realised that I was over a week late. A sense of fear hit me hard in the face like a sledgehammer. I went out on my lunch break to buy 5 pregnancy tests (on the off-chance one was faulty) I knew I was pregnant deep down though, it would explain the unbelievable tiredness and tits as hard as bowling balls that hurt like hell.

Even having a shower hurt beyond belief.  By 6.20pm it was confirmed.  I was going to be a mummy.  With it being a shock the first thing to enter my head was ‘I need a gin’ but instead I called my mum and told her.  Five of my own tests were positive but still in shock I went to the doctor the next day with my Tupperware full of piss. He also confirmed it after me saying ‘look I’ve done 5 tests from the pound shop so I think they might be a bit dodgy’ he laughed at me and no wonder.  What a tit I must have sounded.

Anyway, as I left the doctor it hit me, I am going to be a mummy, and a rush of excitement ran through me.  Not being in a stable situation with my sons dad was quite daunting and he chose not to support us so I was like ‘right I have 2 choices here, I either embrace every second of this journey or I let it totally overwhelm me’ I chose the first option and I went on to enjoy almost every second of my pregnancy.

The next few weeks were mental and a lot to get my head around but needing an emergency scan at 9 weeks really brought home just how much I was ready for this new chapter in my life.  The ’emergency’ turned out to be constipation haha.  I had never had it before so had no idea that what the pressure was, and it was also the first glimpse of talking freely about my toilet habits with hospital staff.

As I said I loved being pregnant and felt that I looked the best I ever had, I loved my big bump and it was prefect to me.  I didn’t start to really show until around 22/23 weeks and was bang on average size and weight gain but it wasn’t long until the inappropriate comments started from absolute strangers, something I found utterly bizarre and still can’t process but it did provide me with some laughs.  I’m sure some of you will relate to at least one of these.

My first encounter one morning from an older woman in a coffee shop ‘oh yer looking awful stout now hen’ I was about 28 weeks at this point and bear in mind I’ve never spoken a word to this woman in my life, so taken aback I said ‘oh right thanks’ then as walked along the road I was thinking what a cheeky cow she looked like she had slept against a radiator but being the normal human I am I would never actually say that to her.

Then there is the comments like ‘are you eating for 3?’ ‘oh you’ve put on some weight’ ‘ye sure it’s not twins’ while rubbing my belly.  These comments are maybe funny once or twice from an uncle or a brother but when its a middle-aged man in the street you’ve never met and probably hasn’t seen his own feet since his teens, it does get draining and the people who feel the need to touch your bump just need a swift slap.  When is it acceptable to ever touch a strangers tummy?  NEVER is the answer.  I must have missed the memo about pregnant women being public property.

I spoke to lots of women at my birthing classes about folk staring and/or offering random and unwelcome advice and it really is a side of pregnancy I do not miss.  The staring always confused me like are they staring because they like my bump, are they curious or are they just rude?  Who knows what the answer is, It’s just one of the mysteries of the universe.

My due date came and went.  At 40+2 I went to  my midwife hoping for a sweep to be told he wasn’t engaged enough so I could get one.  I honestly felt like the world was ending around me and by this point I couldn’t walk due to SPD and breathing was becoming a strain.  As  I left the midwife I knew something was happening in there so I got home and bounced on my birth ball for hours, then at8.15pm my waters broke.  I got to the hospital and discovered he had passed meconium so we were monitored closely and scheduled to be induced to speed up the process, but 2 emergencies came in and I was left to progress on my own.

6am and that was it, I was on my way into the labour suite.  I was induced and went from 2cm to 10cm in under an hour OUCH!!!!! After 15 hours on gas and air I demanded an epidural.  The poor doctors got all kinds of abuse from me.  Both men telling me to breathe and they’ll take my pain away ‘HOW THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW ABOUT MY PAIN.  JUST GET THE NEEDLE IN MMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEE’

Pain gone it was time to push, but he was stuck back to back so I was whipped into theatre for a forceps delivery.  Absolutely horrendous, BUT, he arrived safely and when I heard that scream it was the most overwhelming feeling I’ve ever had.  I will never be able to express it in words because I don’t even think the words exist to describe it.

It was after this that the truly invasive and degrading stuff started.  A bed bath.  YES a bed bath, what a strange experience that was.  I was still numb and this tiny wee nurse was whizzing about me with a sponge.  I still hadn’t held my son properly yet due to the spinal block but at least I was clean(ish).  I had drips in me, a catheter and what looked like 56978412525 litres of blood pouring from my vagina.  The way they just come in all smiles and whip away the blood soaked pads like It’s nothing is amazing.  I thought I was on my way out when I saw it.

The next few weeks at home were just as undignified with visits from my midwife.   I looked forward to the phrase ‘lie up on the couch Ruth and pull your pants down so I can look at your stitches’ surprisingly I got used to a midwife and a student staring at my stitched up arsehole, never thought I’d say that.  Going to the toilet was truly horrendous and I honestly felt like I needed another birth plan just to have a shit.

Being asked ‘what are you planning to do about contraception?’ 2 days after giving birth was something else.  Seriously????  I’ve just been sliced from arse to elbow and I’m like a patchwork quilt down there, ain’t no penis going near me anytime soon sweetheart ?  I was so bruised my bum cheeks were purple and i sat on a rubber ring for the first 2 weeks.  What man would be even remotely turned on by that anyway haha.  Lucky for me I didn’t have that problem to contend with.

My favourite part of the aftermath was my nipples deciding to leak in Tesco. That really felt amazing.  It’s all part of the process I suppose and it really is true what they say, if you can survive child-birth you can survive anything.  Knowing I have gone through 24 hours of labour and had the very present and real threat of taking a dump in a room of people I know I can get through anything in life.  Having my son has been my biggest achievement and seeing him grow and learn each day makes all the pain and trauma of the birth worth every second.  I will never really get my head around the fact i grew a tiny human in my belly.

To all you mummies out there that have done it or are just about to do it, I salute you.  Whether It’s on your own or with a partner, there isn’t a more magical experience with so much reward (along with some major hard work and the occasional bit of baby shit on you) we are part of a club and we need to support each other along the way.

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