Birth? Is It Really That Bad?

Birth? Is It Really That Bad?

I spent so much of my time wanting to be pregnant that I didn’t give much thought to the experience of giving birth to my child. It was something I had heard lots of women talk about but not something I had really considered. 

The one thing I did know was that child birth was terrifying and it hurt. Actually it didn’t hurt it was like someone ripping your insides out while you were still alive (a description kindly given to me by my sister). So when I fell pregnant last year it was pretty much one of the first things I thought about once I got past the initial shock.

The first thing I did was totally suppress any thoughts of birth. I spent the first 22 weeks blissfully ignoring the fact I would potentially push something the size of a melon out of my vagina, but as time went on I decided it was probably best to face the music and arm myself with knowledge and information on how this incredibly huge life changing experience could pan out. 

I was really open to all eventualities of how this could go. Whether that be vaginal or cesarean. I didn’t have an ideal situation in my head. I didn’t know a lot but one thing I was aware of was that no birth was the same and if I focused on having one type of birth I’d probably end up having the opposite. 

Let’s be honest it couldn’t be that bad, I mean women have been giving birth for years. Some women even do it over and over again and back in the stone ages they didn’t even have drugs and hospitals! Surely I’d be OK? 

I read a lot! I read book after book after book which didn’t really make anything clearer as I still didn’t know the type of birth I would have. It did give me a better understanding of the eventualities of labour and what my body would be going through, however didn’t resolve my main question; “What does it feel like to give birth?” 

I think by week 32 anxiety set in and I started to really think about the pain factor and how I would cope, bearing in mind I was someone that would cry at the mere thought of a paper cut. 

As my due date drew closer and closer I began to dream of all the things that could go wrong.

I tried to imagine the feeling and the emotions I would feel on the day. Would I love my baby? Would I recognise him? Would he be big or small or have a funny shaped head? I watched reruns of one born every minute like they were going out of fashion. A few times Matt arrived home to me sobbing, eating ice cream on the floor, having watched a sad episode. I’m sure he thought I was a mad woman. 

About 5 days before my due date I started to get frustrated. I was adamant I would be early. I never really understood it when women said they were getting frustrated when they were overdue, but once I was in the situation I totally understood. I was ready for my little tenant to vacate the building (or my tummy) that had been his home for 9 months. I think it was probably the anticipation of being so close to your due date that makes you go crazy. You wait 9 months to get to this point (9 long months) and suddenly it becomes a reality that any day they could be with you. 

I had my first sweep around my due date and it was pretty painless and uneventful. I was told my cervix was still far back and no where near ready to go, which was soul destroying. I was furious. Did they not know it was my due date in 24hours, surely something would be happening. It started to feel like I might be pregnant forever. I imagined meeting people at 58 months pregnant, explaining that my baby just never arrived. Rolling myself around the house as I could no longer walk! 

Everyone was scared of me and disrupting the ticking time bomb I’d become. A family member made a fly away joke about him not having arrived and how funny it was and I went in to melt down mode. I was furious that anyone would find it funny. Furious, extremely hormonal and hugely overreacting, something no one would have dared say to my face at that point. 

You’ll be pleased to know that I did go in to labour, thankfully for my husband and close friends and family who had probably had enough of my constant moaning. 

I went in to labour on the 21st November at 11.30pm. My waters broke just before midnight, I paced up and down for 20 mins before calling the hospital and they told us to pop down for a quick check up. Everything moved extremely fast from that point. We were told that he had pooed inside me and by no uncertain terms was I going home but being induced immediately. I was given an epidural and then induced but within about 4 hours his heart rate dropped so much and it was plain to see he wasn’t going to be coming any time soon so a cesarean was the safest birthing option.

So there you have it, I spent most of my adult life talking about birth, listening to other people’s birthing stories and imagining the pain I would go through, to not having a single bit of pain. 

Do you know the crazy thing I didn’t even feel one contraction. Not one. 

I have to say I’ve heard other women say they felt cheated, I don’t, in fact I feel pretty happy that I didn’t have to go through a single contraction in pain. The one thing I did learn was that when you’re in the midst of labour, your whole focus just goes on getting that little person here safely. I’ve never considered myself a selfless person, but everything went out the window in those final hours before he arrived. If they had to chop off my leg to get him here I’d have done it in a heartbeat.

As they wheeled me down to theatre I remember the feeling of fear set in. I’m still not sure to this day if it was fear of what was going to happen or fear that my life was about to change forever as I entered the room. I remember looking around for Matt. I’m a fairly independent person but I needed him next to me to be able to get through this. I’ve heard women say that they wouldn’t have been able to get through birth without their partner. Not just their partner being present but the mere smell or touch of their partner giving them the strength for those final pushes and I can honestly say without sounding too soppy I’ve never needed him so much in my life. 

As they topped up my epidural I started to panic that I would feel them cutting in to me. I was petrified that the anaesthetic wouldn’t work. I asked the nurse but apparently they had already started so I didn’t need to worry. 

 The fifteen minutes I was on that table while I waited for them to pull him out felt like a life time. I could feel nothing apart from tugs and pulls as if someone was building a Lego toy inside my stomach. I distinctly remember just holding my breath and waiting to hear him cry like I’d seen on all those programmes and as soon as I heard his little cry I let go and burst in to tears. It was the most wonderful, emotional and scary thing I’d ever been through. 

So there you have it my birth story. Totally different but equally as special to all the million, billion others out there. 

I have to say on reflection, one bit of advice I would give to any pregnant women is to try and not plan your birth too much. There is no wrong or right way to give birth. You don’t know what is going to happen when you’re in the situation. Just plan to look after yourself and get your child here safely. 

Women are amazing. To think we grow and give birth to a little human is mind blowing. Every time I look at his face I can’t believe it was him in my tummy for 9 months. Although, the last few weeks of pregnancy were long sometimes, I wish I could put him back in just to have him all to myself again for a day and feel those little kicks once more. 

Fertility

Fertility

One minute you’re 20 years old taking the contraceptive pill religiously, praying that your partying days aren’t over; and the next you’re counting your fertile days, peeing on ovulation sticks and jumping on your partner every spare second you get in the hope that this month is THE month. For many women, that positive test comes quickly, but for many others the waiting game is tough and soul destroying.

We tried for 4 years before I fell pregnant and they were the toughest 4 years of my life. I cried, I laughed, I spent a lot of money on a lot of shit to help me fall pregnant. I pressured my husband in to sex day in day out and I prayed, (something I’d never done before). I was a woman on a mission. Wanting a baby and not getting pregnant is a lonely place. It consumes you and you can only really understand it if you’ve been through it. It’s strange how the second you decide to try for a baby, every one else in the world becomes pregnant. Beatrice from school who I hadn’t seen for 20 years popped up on my Facebook announcing “surprise we’re having a baby” everywhere I looked there were bumps, baby showers and baby reveals, just to make me feel a little bit worse and remind me that I was most definetly not pregnant.

Pregnancy tests became the enemy…an expensive enemy. I got almost used to looking at a stick praying that there would be two lines. I’d even sometimes see a line that wasn’t there, desperately standing by my bedroom window turning the test in the light to see if the result was different….of course it wasn’t it was just a big fat negative each time.

I decided to come off the pill at 33 (looking back I am so glad I did). I told Matt it would take us at least a year to get pregnant so it was best we started trying now, even though I never believed that would be true. Little did I know that the journey would be a lot longer than anticipated.

The first month off the pill, I convinced myself that I in fact was pregnant. I was adamant I could feel the symptoms they say you get once the egg has implanted. I was a little smug and thought to myself that I was obviously just one of those extremely “fertile Freddie’s” the ones that don’t even have to actually have sex and get pregnant (god I wish I could go back and slap my then self).

I need to also point out at this time that my journey is by far not the worse that I’ve heard of during my time of trying for a baby. I came across women and stories that made me cry myself to sleep. Some of the things people have been through to have a baby are crazy and I have so much respect for the strength and determination of any couple fighting for their dream to have a child, especially when it’s such a simple dream and something you take for granted until it doesn’t happen.

So I came off the pill. We tried for just under a year and nothing happened so we decided to go and see a doctor who was great and said that we would get to the bottom of what was wrong. Two and a bit years later we didn’t have any answers. We had sperm tests, a HSG

(which checks your tubes) and numerous blood tests under our belts and everything looked perfect (annoyingly perfect) which to be honest was even more frustrating. They checked my ovulation which came back showing that some months I skipped ovulation and others I didn’t so they decided to start me on clomid for 6 months which did nothing apart from make me bloated and grumpy. I was then told there was nothing more they could do, that the next steps would be IVF and I was sent on my way.

After much deliberation we decided to go down the route of IVF although just before we did we found out we were pregnant naturally. Unfortunately, that pregnancy ended at 6 weeks and again the painful process of accepting this wasn’t our baby began.

Eventually we did get pregnant naturally after nearly 4 years. I still remember the morning so clearly that I sat down to do a wee and take a random pregnancy test. When the 2nd line came up I was in disbelief, I was tired of it all and I remember not feeling excited because I associated pregnancy with sadness and disappointment and didn’t really believe that it was real or that it would actually last this time.

My fertility journey is something I want to talk about in more detail and something I probably can’t cover in one blog post. As I sit here writing I can see my little boy next to me smiling and it still makes me feel like the luckiest Mum in the world.

I think the main thing I have to take from all of the years of trying is that now I appreciate more than ever my little boy. I count myself so blessed even through the sleepless nights.

It’s hard when you are trying and not getting pregnant. At times I really believed it would probably never happen for us. I know it’s easy for me to say now but people going through something similar need to be kind to themselves and honestly don’t give up, know that it will happen and that sometimes the best things come from the toughest situations.