Written by Rosie Phillips for her blog, Baby Boys Rock.
You can follow her on Instagram here!
Childbirth is sweaty. It’s sticky. Its bloody – in our case, bloody long! I am not going to go into all the gory details; it is the best and least dignified thing that I have ever done (which is a great feeling as, so far in life, the many, many, many times I have lost my dignity would definitely not be listed up there with my proudest moments and usually involved gallons of alcohol. This time there was no alcohol – though I do think it may have helped – and no hangover of shame, just plenty of drugs and a huge helping of pride!) I spent just shy of two whole days in labour, and from those two incredible, yet incredibly difficult, days I have three points I would like to share.
1. Water, water everywhere
Why does no one tell you that your waters never stop? Seriously? What is that about? Is it the same for everyone? I was one of the one-in-ten women whose waters break prior to their contractions starting: At five days overdue, I went to bed just before midnight. Forty-five minutes later – and the only bit of my labour that I can honestly say happened as it does on TV – I sat bolt upright and turned to Jonathan, “I think my waters have just broken.” It felt as though someone had poured a glass of water over my crotch. I was excited, I was nervous and, mainly, I was soggy. I got up to go change and no sooner had I crossed the threshold into the bathroom when a gush of water hit the floor with force, as though I had just laid a water balloon. I laughed to myself, “Oh, that was my waters going!”, got changed and called the hospital. Then it happened again… and again… and again… five pairs of knickers later and I was starting to wonder what the hell was happening to me.
Now I know that you’re probably thinking, “why didn’t you put a sanitary towel on you daft cow?” I did. By outfit number three I was wearing two pairs of knickers with a sanitary towel and a maternity towel on and, still, within five minutes I was soaked. The midwife at the maternity assessment unit had told me when I called that I should go back to bed and get some rest before my contractions kicked in – easier said than done when you’re now losing enough amniotic fluid to start a new sea. Eventually, Jonathan thought to put a rubber bottomed bath mat on the bed so that it wouldn’t matter, I put on multiple maternity pads and drifted off for a grand total of around thirty minutes before I had to go to hospital to be assessed.
So, my waters broke at 12:45 am on 2nd June and, forty long hours later, Harry was born and they finally stopped. No one ever told me that my uterus was attached to the mains… Beware the flood!
2. Getting stabbed in the back by a midwife
Firstly I would like to say that the John Radcliffe Hospital, where Harry was born, is incredible. I felt so lucky that it was my closest hospital and the care that I received during my pregnancy and birth was second to none. Midwives are a special breed of super humans and I could not be more grateful to mine for helping me deliver our happy, healthy baby boy. However…
The JR was running a trial to test the effects of saline injections, in the bottom of the back, on severe back pain in labour. Being an awkward little bugger, Harry had turned around in the final days of my pregnancy and so all my contraction pain was centred in my back and bum. I have no other labours to compare this with, but I can vouch for the fact that this ‘effing hurts. It seriously hurts. It hurt so much I couldn’t wee, which I didn’t even know was a thing?! So, in the throws of labour, with back to back contractions to match my back to back baby and huffing on gas and air like a woman possessed, my midwife offered me injections of saline solution (or a placebo) in the base of my back. She stated that, so far, the pain relief had been documented as very successful but warning that they, and I quote, “are quite painful, like a bee sting.”
Here I am, huffing away, and letting my parents know that I’m still alive via selfie… I thought it was hilarious at the time
I loved my midwife: She stroked my hair, she soothed me, she was like a mother figure during my labour, but I would hate to know what kind of messed up bees she’s been stung by? It was the middle of the night, the only conclusion I can draw is that she too was delirious (maybe she’d been having a sneaky puff on my gas!) and was confusing “bees” with “knives” and “sting” with “stabbed”. I would like to think that I have a fairly high pain threshold; labour hurt (a lot), the weeks postpartum hurt (a lot), but I don’t know that anything has ever hurt me like those four injections of water being rammed into my back!
To add insult to injury, I am pretty certain I received the placebo as, in no time at all, my pain levels were right back to where they had been, with the added sting of having been stabbed in the back by the woman I loved!
3. Bloody hell
Blood. So much blood. Obviously it is self-explanatory, you’re going to bleed, but all the midwives I saw described it as “like a heavy period”. No, liars. What you meant to say was “like every heavy period you have ever had, combined.” Just in case I had managed to maintain a shred of dignity during childbirth, they then placed what I can only describe as a “human puppy pad” beneath me to catch this river of blood, shoved a maternity pad (or a pillow, who can really tell the difference?) between my legs and held it in place with some fishnet knickers. If I were ever to have thought that, one day, I would be lying in bed wearing fishnet knickers I would have assumed it would be the precursor to some kinky sex… not that said knickers would come up to beneath my boobs and that a stranger would have helped me put them on!
To conclude: Childbirth is amazing – as agonising as it was I still look back on it with such pride and happiness and look forward to hopefully experiencing it again; you will stop leaking; you will stop bleeding; midwives are strong and incredible women who we should all be so grateful for but even your favourite midwife may tell you fibs.
PS. Don’t fear the epidural. When else in your life will you be able to administer your own drugs using a big green button?
It could be twice as long and twice as difficult and would always be worth it to see this beautiful face at the end