A labour of love is also a labour of pain. A pain that I wanted to recall before the pressing cloud of sleep deprivation takes it away from me. Why do I want to remember the pain? Because not only was the experience agonising, but it was also one of the proudest things I’ve ever accomplished.
Through my pain, I brought a tiny little human – grown within me through a pregnancy that was just as trying as labour – into this world.
Her due date was the 27th of April and there was some debate as to whether or not I would make it that far, mostly due to the concert I was adamant I was going to just one week before I was due (the 21st). Everyone told me I was crazy.
“You can’t go to a concert nine months pregnant!”
Of course I could! And I was going. I was going. My two favourite country music singers – Kip Moore and Lee Brice – were doing a concert together. Who knows if they’d do it again? Besides, as I told everyone, I had the midwife’s permission to go and anyway the hospital was just around the corner.
Cheeky exclamations of loud music bringing on labour aside, it seemed that someone just didn’t want to wait. This Mum-to-be was not going to get her last hurrah.
On Wednesday 17th of April I went to bed with a mild back ache. The same sort of back ache I get when Flo comes to visit each month.
I brushed it off. It was nothing. Just Braxton Hicks.
On Thursday 18th of April I texted my aunt. Braxton Hicks contractions. Been having them all night.
I received a text back. Are you sure that’s all it is? How far apart?
They’re irregular. But I’ve downloaded a tracking app just in case.
Another text back: Okay.
By lunch time, those “irregular” contractions were roughly ten minutes apart. But they could still be Braxton Hicks! I insisted via text message… hey, haven’t I already told you? I really wanted to go to that concert.
Meanwhile, my Aunt went shopping for the necessities I still hadn’t packed (well I was supposed to still have nine days to prepare – can anyone say denial?)
By 5pm it was obvious that this was definitely happening. Contractions were five minutes apart and it was time to call the hospital. Do we come in or not?
Well, being under the public system and living just ten minutes away from the hospital, they asked if I could wait until contractions were three minutes apart.
Sure. These contractions weren’t so bad. I could wait.
So far, this whole labour thing wasn’t as hard as I thought it was.
Ahahahahahahaha. Can anyone say naive?
By 7:30pm it was time to go to the hospital and I tell you, I’ve never been happier to live so close to a hospital because two contractions in the car was well and truly enough for me. We pulled into the patient drop off area and Hubby took me in while Aunty went to park the car for us.
Of course (along with not having my bags packed before that afternoon) we hadn’t yet done a tour of the birth sweet and had no idea where we were going. Hubby insists that he was looking at the signs and we were heading in the right direction, but thankfully we came across two lovely nurses who stopped to help us right as I was having a contraction.
A wheel-chair and several fast-paced turns later (obviously this was not the nurse’s first rodeo) and I was in the maternity ward. I thanked the nurses profusely – who had been on their way out at the end of their shifts. They wished me luck, and I was taken into my own labour room.
Standard questionnaires and tests and setting up in the room and I was feeling a little more at ease (if still in mild pain). Except then the contractions intensified.
I received a shot of morphine which slowed things down just a tiny bit, but they picked back up once it wore off. I tried the yoga ball, the shower, shifting my position. I tried sleeping (not doable, lying down sucked for contraction pain).
We discussed other pain relief. I didn’t want an epidural. The thought of being unable to move frightened me, and so I went with gas instead.
The gas is strange. You’re given a mouthpiece attached to a long tube which administers the laughing gas. You have to breath in and out into the tube in long, deep breaths for the gas to be effective, and it’s only short lived.
Now, here’s the thing. My breathing sucks. It’s short and it’s shallow and whenever I try to do any form of vigorous exercise I struggle because I can’t seem to get my breathing right (hence why I detest running). I have to really concentrate at it in order to get it right.
So breathing the gas was tricky. Sometimes it was good, because concentrating on breathing properly helped take my mind of the milder contractions. Sometimes it was bad because the pain was too high for me to focus on breathing properly and thus the pain relief wasn’t as effective.
Needless to say, it was going to be a long night.
My waters refused to break and I was dilating slowly. Thankfully I had help. After all my adamant declarations that I didn’t want anyone in there with me through labour (I was about to learn that modesty has no place next to that kind of pain), I was lucky and grateful to have Hubby and Aunty to help push me through.
They fed me water, they talked me through contractions, they handed me the gas, they helped me shift from position to position.
Here’s the things about positioning during labour – or the things I’ve learned anyway.
You don’t have to do it lying on your back. In fact, that’s the most unhelpful way to do it. I won’t go into the details because I’m not a professional and I’ll botch the explanation. But basically it’s harder on your back, there are more obstacles to push over. So I wanted to be upright, with gravity on my side. After a bit of shifting about I took a kneeling position on the hospital bed, so that I was draped over the raised end of the bedhead. It helped. The contractions weren’t so painful.
However, the midwife needed to turn me around onto my back in order to check my progress. As the night went on this became more and more difficult for me.
Toward the early hours of the morning things got worse. My contractions changed. The midwife burst my waters when I was eight centimetres dilated and once again my contractions changed. Every time I had a contraction my midwife wanted me to breath the gas. But every time I had to breath out into the tube, my body was telling me to push. They called this the transitioning stage. Only there was a small problem with that desire.
Little one wasn’t in an ideal position. She still had to turn to get into the right spot in order to come out.
I was under strict instructions not to push. It was the only thing I wanted to do. Not pushing took everything I had – for which I apologised for over and over.
I’m trying not to, I’m trying not to, I’m sorry, I really am. I’m trying. It’s just so hard.
Not pushing was possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
Two hours of fighting against my own instinct and I was deteriorating rapidly. The gas was no longer serving it’s purpose and my amazing husband was now having to turn me onto my back every time the midwife wanted to check on the progress; and then lift me back onto my knees so that I wasn’t in (as much) pain. He lifted my entire deadweight, and manoeuvred my uncooperative body into a less painful position a dozen times over.
Things were not progressing the way they needed to and the midwife decided it was time for an epidural.
In came the anaesthetist to explain – through my screams of labour pain – his obligatory spiel about how the epidural works and what they would do. None of which I heard and apologised profusely for screaming through (can anyone say “delirious with pain”?).
Yes, I apologise a lot. I’ve been told it’s a very bad habit of mine. In fact, I think I spent a lot of my labour experience either crying out in pain or apologising. Apologising for not being able to hold off on pushing. Apologising for squeezing hands too hard. Apologising for throwing away the gas. Apologising for not hearing people.
The midwife went to get a superior to get another opinion on my progress and I actually recall her saying to me with a laugh, “you’ve got to be one of the most polite mother’s in labour I’ve ever dealt with.”
The anaesthetist came back with his needle. I didn’t see him. I heard him return and later I was told he was there with his gloves on and the needle all ready to prep.
Thing was, I was spent and I just couldn’t fight it any longer. Not pushing was no longer an option.
It’s coming, I told them. I can’t stop it. It’s coming.
The midwife had another look. By this point I was stuck on my back. To have an epidural you don’t have a choice, it’s back or nothing. So when the midwife checked to confirm that, yep, the head was right there, there was no going back, no waiting for an epidural, no changing positions, because this baby was coming. Ready or not.
In the end, the push stage was over and done with faster than I could comprehend. Four contractions later, with three pushes each contraction and I was being presented with a daughter. I remember screaming a lot. I remember the popping pain, the swooshing feeling of ick, the relief when it was over just a short ten minutes after the pushing began.
Then, after it all, I was handed her. A baby girl. This tiny, purple, squashed, perfect little alien.
The proudest thing I’ve ever done.
The Jade Writer Girl.