Here’s a few things I learned about giving birth. I’m obviously very aware these won’t all apply to everyone, birth experiences can be highly divisive. A bit like the music of Cliff Richard. Some women walk away with nothing more than a grazed fanny while others have a torrid time and like to tell everyone about it at coffee mornings and school fetes. But these are what I limped away with. These and at least 5 gooch stitches. I’ll be keen to hear if anyone agrees…
1. You know that nicely written, well thought out, concise, colour co-ordinated birth plan you’ve got there? See if the local pet shop want it as hamster bedding.
My birth plan was probably the most basic of them all, and I still stuck to it in no way whatsoever. I’d recommend turning up at the hospital with a piece of scrap paper which reads ‘meh, get it out without me dying’.
2. You will hear the positives of opting for a water birth. You will request a water birth.
You will be told you can have a water birth provided everything goes smoothly. You will get to the hospital only to be told the thermometers have stopped working. You won’t get a water birth.
3. Don’t listen to your favourite music while it’s all kicking off.
I used to love Ed Sheeran’s ‘X’. Now it reminds me of drifting in and out of consciousness, hearing Greg & the midwife deliberate whether or not Ed should feature more rap on his tracks and I get all punchy.
4. The promise of an epidural can be terribly misleading.
So, my vagina decided to scream its way to eight centimetres dilated in less than 5 hours and it smarted a tad. Because I’d been told the water birth wasn’t happening, I opted for an epidural to try and calm the situation down a bit. After being told to expect a gradual build up to pelvis-shattering pain, I instead got it pretty much immediately… and it wasn’t a barrel ‘o’ laughs. Now, I’m no novice when it comes to watching Keeping Up The Kardashians and I’ve seen the episode where Kourtney (the fucking miserable one) gives birth. She opts for an epidural and barely bats an eyelash extension, however three hours in with mine, I was wielding a numb, wangy left leg and the pain had subsided a grand total of fuck all. I was really wondering what the Dickens had happened until the midwife gently informed me ‘It doesn’t actually work for a lot of women sweetheart. I had three, they did nothing’. Well, cheers United.
5. You may gyrate on a hot water bottle so hard, Television X would hire you on the spot.
6. Maybe if you’re feeling a bit crappy, don’t decide to ‘preen’.
The day I gave birth I’d felt poorly and stayed in bed all afternoon. Presuming baby might rock up in the next couple of days or so, I spent Saturday night fake tanning and painting my nails. When my waters broke twenty minutes later I got streak marks in my bronze coating and ruined my paint job yanking my cacks down. Nurses had to be warned I hadn’t bled all over the sheets each time they entered my room and that in fact, ‘she just fake tanned before she got here’.
7. You will be prodded, yanked about, jabbed within an inch of your life and won’t notice.
Greg kept wincing during my labour, normally when people approached my with something sharp, and I just thought he was being a sap. He’s ordinarily quite hardcore, being someone who once took 27 spinal injections in one sitting, and I couldn’t understand why he was suddenly being so pathetic. Two weeks down the line I still had scabs and bruising from the things they were sticking in me. Turns out when you’re giving birth, the nurses are all about haste and a lot less about not being brutal.
8. You will have entirely coherent, calm thoughts in your head. And be able to say ‘nghhhhhhh’ out loud.
9. You will moo.
10. If you scream, you’re probably someone who wears wrist supports while typing or can only sleep with hypoallergenic pillows. You don’t need to scream.
11. Until baby’s head’s full-on squeezing through your box. Then you do.
12. Gooch stitches are almost more soul-destroying and painful than anything else involved with pregnancy/labour.
Going for your first poo after you’ve been sewn up is more squirmy than finding out Edward Scissorhands is carrying out your next cervical smear.
13. Pelvic floor exercises will become your new best friend.
14. When your baby’s plonked on your chest for the first time you’ll be flooded with the following:
Happiness. Relief. Love. And a sudden flash of “OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT oh it’s a baby, yeah it’s OK everyone it’s a baby”.
15. Midwives may ask you stupid questions or say stupid things.
It’s probably because they’re shattered and been staring at your ever expanding lady bucket for the last few hours. Mine asked me what I was scared of after a particularly exuberant moo. I responded “I’m not scared of anything. It just FUCKING HURTS”.
16. There will be one specific spot on your birthing partner’s hand which you will want to squeeze/drag your nails over.
No other spot will do it. They will try to offer up other body parts for you to grip. You’ll say no (through gritted teeth). They’ll end up with minor burns. Tell them not to worry, Greg’s disappeared in 12-14 days. Use Savlon.
17. Your body may not let you cry.
18. Sweary in real life? Expect to surprise yourself.
After being mute for around 10 hours, the only sentence I mustered was ‘oh my gosh’. Most cordial I’ve ever been.
19. There’s not that much blood and poo.
I’ve got a bowel condition & got through it without one single squirt. I did do a big fart at one point though. Blood… I’d say there was enough to make a small milkshake.
20. Prepare to agree to the one thing you said you’d never agree to. No, not anal.
I was adament I didn’t want forceps. I’d heard horror stories about babies’ heads being yanked about, atrocious tears, infant death and in NO way was I happy about it. After three hours of pushing and hearing my baby was back to back, face up and point blank refusing to make his grand appearance, I was told forceps were needed. It would take three pulls, along with some pushing from me (like I hadn’t already done enough, pffft) and he’d be out. With an end finally in sight, it was like music to my ears (although nothing by Ed Sheeran) and I agreed through a haze of exhaustion. Despite Greg wanting to hear every bloody potential danger; “Well sir, baby could die, there’s the threat of cerebral palsy”, he came out in three hefty yanks and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t said yes to the one thing I was dead against, I’d still be there now. Mooing like a trooper.
21. This makes me it all worthwhile (no you shut up)