Childbirth is TOUGH.
Pushing a watermelon out of a bagel sized hole is tough. It is a complete, irrefutable fact for the clear majority of women. However, I do not deny that it isn’t the most incredible, soul defining, magical experience I think I will ever encounter.
But please, let’s stop misleading women with the “perfect birth” and normalise the not so perfect, the not so romantic and the not so desirable. The struggle is real and it does make you any less of a woman or a mother to admit it.
In recent years, there has been a push towards striving for the “perfect birth” which encourages a drug free natural birth, seeks positivity and removes fear surrounding childbirth, however much to our disbelief we are not wonder women. There is nothing wrong with wanting to empower women to strive for their perfect birthing experience, but each and every one of us is different and therefore our idea of perfect varies greatly.
From my own experience, I believe it is extremely important to give women a balanced perspective on childbirth and allow people to openly discuss their traumatic births, rather than labelling them as scaremongering or depressing. Either way the end goal is nothing but beautiful.
I found comfort in reading other women’s birth stories for hours on end, day after day, making myself aware and understanding the endless possibilities I may face during labour. Little did I know my labour would be nothing like anything I had read; the water births, the quick births, the drug free births; I was far from prepared so I therefore strongly support and advocate mums being fully informed through lucid information and a realistic, balanced perspective.
Now I am the other side of labour, happily snuggled up in bed with my little family as I write this, I can honestly say despite everything it was still the most breath taking (literally) experience and I would somehow do it over and over again. I was one of the unfortunate ones and had a birth far from my birth plan; which was to labour for the most part at home and finally go into hospital to delivery my water baby.
What really happened:
It was at my 38-week midwife appointment that I was asked “how’s the baby’s movement?” to which I replied “reduced”, I was battling with myself to get checked out or to stop being an over-reacting mother (you are never an over-reacting mother, always get checked out). The midwife immediately sent me to triage to be monitored which would supposedly take no longer than 30 minutes and I’d be back home before I knew it. Cut a long story short, 9 draining hours and a scan later I was informed I was being induced due to low amniotic fluid and reduced movement.
For those of you that aren’t aware (I wasn’t either) the induction process is done using 3 gels inserted internally, each 6 hours apart. My body instantly responded to the first gel, resulting in strong and frequent contractions, much to my despair without the help of any pain relief. None the less, me and my partner began to get extremely excited, this was it, the moment we had been waiting for, after what felt like a mammoth pregnancy we were finally going to meet our little girl.
Little did we know, we would still be in the same boat 3 gels, 2 days and a million contractions later. Internally my body was far from ready to deliver a baby. The midwife decided to break my waters to which she described to me was a simple as “popping a water balloon”, it’s fair to say she wasn’t far wrong. From this point forward my labour continued for a gruesome 12 hours. During this time I was given gas and air and remifentanil, both of which my body appeared to reject. Waaaah! Somebody send a miracle!
After hours of pushing, the midwives decided to intervene and perform an episiotomy. Without going in to too much detail or scripting my own horror story, the local anaesthetic was administered and again my body repelled the pain relief (yes I felt every bit of it) but 2 horrendously painful cuts later my bundle of joy arrived, only to discover in the BACK TO BACK position! Weighing a hefty 8 pounds, 5 ounces.
Despite my traumatic labour, an overwhelming sense of love and pride completely consumed me. Never had I ever felt so empowered in my life. I finally had my beautiful little girl in my arms and believe me, nothing can quite prepare you for that moment. The rush of love is so real; every contraction, every inch of pain and every tear was so unbelievably worth it.
It was finally over, well at least I thought it was. The midwives were unable to deliver my placenta resulting in immediate surgery and a spinal block, to say I was fed up would be an understatement. After an hour and a half, I finally arrived in the recovery room where I was reunited with my perfect new family. It was heart breaking being unable to hold my little girl for the remainder of the day, I constantly worried I wouldn’t be able to bond with her but allowing myself to rest ensured I could look after her to the best of my ability in the upcoming days and seeing my partner love and care for my daughter in the way which he did and continues to do, somehow makes me love him even more.