So, my daughter is almost two weeks old already. It’s the same shitty story any ‘new’ mother will tell you. Lack of sleep, lack of sleep, lack of sleep……
It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m mulling over the events of the last few weeks before Cupcake descends on me and we drink the champagne we didn’t get round to drinking the night my daughter was born.
For those who want the gory details it went something like this:
Mucus plug, water then contractions somewhere around 12.30pm while Bushman was out buying lunch. I start making calls to arrange childcare and birth companions. Cupcake jumps on a train from Brighton and the Doula starts gathering her potions in a rucksack. Totally unfazed by events, Bushman comes home and starts making a prawn curry.
“Baby ah come?” is about all he manages to say to me.
At half past four, shortly before Cupcake and the Doula arrive the pain is getting serious. I have thrown a tot of rum down my neck but coupled with lack of food it makes me feel a touch woozy and I decide not to overdo it. I turn on some loud reggae instead and start heavy breathing through my contractions. Bushman starts to look concerned but keeps on cooking.
At a quarter past five my reggae playlist comes to an end and I’m in too much pain to give a fuck. The Doula arrives (or ‘The Dealer’ as Bushman likes to call her) and makes me some god awful drink with cider vinegar and cayenne pepper. Cupcake arrives and laughs at her own suggestion that I take paracetamol for the pain when she sees just how much pain I am in. Soon I am crouching over my sofa almost biting into the lovely owl cushion that Miss Stitchie made for me. Bushman is rubbing my back as requested with labour oil which I found by chance in the cupboard. I am grateful for his enormous strong hands. It is only after the birth that I realised he has possibly bruised me internally – but then I only have myself to blame. I had been demanding “Harder! Harder!” after all.
After this period events become rather blurry. Somehow, somebody calls the midwives and the student midwife who had requested to attend my birth. I decide I would be much more comfortable on my bed on all fours and forcefully tell Bushman "There's nothing dignified about this bit I'm afraid - you just have to get on with it."
At 7pm on September 5th 2010. I bite into the gas and air inhaler and give one final push. I remember being quite surprised that she came out so quickly. According to my post natal notes (which I perused a few days later) this period of my labour took just 5 minutes in total.
As I felt the instantaneous relief of a child exiting my body I threw the inhaler across the bed and shouted ‘Fucker!’ with triumph. And if that wasn't bad enough the next few words, I’m sure, mean that my name is on some social services list somewhere.
‘Get me a drink!” I shouted to Bushman who appeared, as if by magic, with a healthy, home-measured glass of rum and two ice cubes bobbing around inside. I gulped it down. I had not even looked at my baby yet.
To be painfully truthful, in those first few moments I was totally uninterested in her. I was just enjoying her absence from my body.
Soon enough I was holding her and all that went through my mind was “I’m breathing rum fumes on my baby….”
“ah well,” I reasoned with myself, “she’ll have to get used to that.”
Sadly, giving birth was the easy part. I had decided to try getting rid of the placenta naturally. To be honest, in hindsight, it was one hippy step too far for me. The blasted thing did not want to come out and I lay there, gooey, groggy and uncomfortable while various women tugged at it and asked me to push.
“Push?” I couldn’t feel a fucking thing down there.
‘Graphic’ was how Cupcake described it afterwards. Even after the damn injection the bugger didn’t want to come out. Then I heard a midwife whisper that word that made me want to yank it out myself “Hospital…”
Right, I thought, time to take action. In a very bizarre scene and after a misunderstanding between myself and the midwives I ended up pissing endlessly on some medical pads on my own bed (the bed was well protected with a variety of plastics – of course). I had gone from being a woman who couldn’t piss to a woman who couldn’t stop pissing. I can sincerely vouch for the absorbency of those medical pads.
All that pissing certainly cleared the path for the placenta which came out shortly afterwards. Total time for third stage of labour. 1 hour 35 minutes. I just wanted to get a shower, a drink and tell my parents to come over with my son, Natural delivery of the placenta is overrated in my experience.
Lastly, just as I thought I was over the worst, I finally had an internal examination (which I had resisted throughout the entire process) only to be told “You have a second degree tear which needs stitching”
The adrenaline had worn off, so had the gas and air and the euphoria. Now it was just me and the needle in a grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it situation until the local anaesthetic kicked in.
“Pump it in - give me as much as you're allowed to” I told the stitcher “I was a recreational drug taker in my youth, I can take it. Just don’t stick your finger up my arse without asking first like the last one - she was a real cow.”
Finally, after all the indignities and watching the midwives pick over my placenta like hungry vultures, I was able to enjoy the benefits of a homebirth: my own shower, my own food, my own visiting hours, my own bed, my own family. And unlike last time, when I couldn’t close my eyes without enduring traumatic flashbacks, this time I felt peeky but perky and slowly over the next few days I discovered that I felt very pleased with myself. OK, so the pissing moment wasn't great but I could laugh it off and besides, there were other things to be pleased about. I took pride in the hospital bag laying on top of my cupboard which was never packed and I marvelled at the fact that my daughter did not require the hospital tag to be snipped from her ankle. I had achieved my goal.
The only one who was traumatised this time around, was Bushman.
It had all worked out perfectly.