Lately I've been doing a lot of reprocessing of Little A's birth hence the theme of the last two posts. On a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is God Damn Awful I give the birth a 6. Probably not as traumatic as some of the horror stories I've read but the birth still affected me deeply all the same. I'm now undergoing EMDR therapy for PTSD symptoms to lay to rest the wounds that opened. EMDR what? Stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing and it's proving to be very effective. Will share more details in another post.
So anyway this is another birth story post but this time I want to inject some humour into three almost comical mishaps which happened during my 20 hour birthing extravaganza. I sometimes find that humour can help lessen the impact of shocking events ..... it's a useful defense mechanism of mine.
But first a quick detour. What I had originally envisaged for Little A's birth was an 'almost pain free' hypnobirthing fest at home with music, candles and incense. I had imagined spending most of the second stage in the bath, probably morphing into something beyond a prune in the process, and then birthing on a lofty plateau of towels, plastic sheets and duvets by the bookcase in the living room. How intellectual of me.
Sad but true, I had even arranged specific pieces of music to be played at particular moments during the birth. If I can recall I had chosen a piece by Beethoven for the moment Little A crowned. I used to be a DJ so Younger Dad really had his work cut out on the ones and twos. No pressure at all then .......
Reminiscing I now find my head shaking in disbelief. What feckin planet was I on? How spectacularly naive of me. In hindsight I was so obviously in denial of what might actually happen. And on another related note who's idea was 'the birth plan' anyway? Numpty. I know its only meant to be one page but mine resembled a novella. Yes, it made me feel in absolute control of this imaginary birth, the control freak that I am, but didn't count for tuppence when proceedings eventually got under way.
So the due date, 12th January 2010, came and went, and after throwing everything at oiling the cogs of labour (raspberry leaf tea, nipple stimulation, acupuncture, acupressure, shiatsu, reflexology, cervical sweeps and star jumps in the local park which wasn't a pretty sight I can assure you at over 42 weeks gestation) I was booked in for an inpatient induction on the evening of 27th January. And so finally to the three mishaps.
Mishap Number One
So Older Mum and Younger Dad rocked up to Queen Charlotte's for the inpatient induction. I was given a bed on a post natal ward with lots of new mothers getting to grips with their newborns. Their babies were out. Mine still resided under my mountainous bump. The doctor arrived to administer the prostaglandin and uninvited cervical sweep.
Younger Dad went home thanks to rather odd hospital regulations leaving me to brave the twilight hours on my own. He then arrived all bright and breezy the next morning to an ashen faced Older Mum. 'Are you ready to start a family' he said cheerily. 'What?' I said exasperatingly. I hadn't slept at all. My waters literally exploded an hour after the prostaglandin was administered. This ushered in labour and strong contractions which became more powerful as dawn beckoned. By morning my 'birth waves' (hypnobirthing speak) were so painful courtesy of Little A lying back to back that it felt as if Beelzebub himself had pronged a white hot fork into my back and left it there. Add to that I felt vulnerable and humiliated after several internal examinations during the night.
'Get the tens machine on me now!'
Younger Dad fumbled about nervously hooking up the wires and then ..... and then ..... turned up the dial full whack sending an electrical volt to rival the the national grid's maximum outage through out my body. I would have preferred shoving a wet finger in a live socket. The hospital walls reverberated to the sound of 'You stoooopid maaaaaaaaaan!!!!!!!!' (exclamation marks do not do this justice). To add insult to injury the shock dispatched a massive back bone contorting contraction. 'Gas and air ...... NOooooW!'
Mishap Number Two
Fast forward about 8 hours. I have a stubborn, nonchalant, underachieving cervix. It wouldn't dilate any further than 2 cms. We were now housed in a private room situated on the birthing suite. To encourage my idle cervix to open its doors I decided to augment to syntocinon which proved too much for my diminutive frame. Contractions were off the scale and I demanded an epidural. As the anaesthetist's assistant removed the tens machine from my back what happened? You guessed right. She accidentally turned up the dial to maximum strength blasting my body with another full force voltage. Oh dear dear. Again, I would have preferred sharing a bath with a live radio, tuned into Radio Four's Woman's Hour of course. I screamed and almost flew off the bed in shock. My midwife gave me a huge hug. The poor assistant's eyes said it all, 'please don't sue me, please don't sue me'. Cue mass apology. It was an accident. Apology accepted.
Mishap Number Three
Syntocinon was running through my veins. I couldn't feel a thing thanks to the epidural. But the contractions proved too strong for Little A. She became distressed and her heart rate plummeted. Before I knew it I was being rushed towards the operating theatre like a scene out of ER for an emergency c-section. I was truly terrified that Little A was going to die. And what song was being played on the operating theatre duke box? I still can't quite get over this. Only 'Killing Me Softly' by the Fugees. WTF !!!!!! Now the fact that I used to be a DJ assumes I have an ear for music. And this really wasn't a good choice of tunage. Next time I have a c-section I'll request the Empire Theme from Star Wars instead.
And finally whilst we are all in the recovery area and I'm eagerly awaiting to hold Little A what did the mid wife say whilst putting on her first nappy? She only warned her what a cruel world it is out there. Welcome to the world Little A! Younger Dad and I looked at each other aghast.