Early on during my first pregnancy I had asked my mother…
“How painful is labour, really?”
“Like really, really bad period cramps.” she had answered.
Forty one weeks later as I lay on the delivery table moaning…
“Please kill me…hit me on the head with a brick or something!” I found out my mother had lied.
The pain was indescribable and it just kept coming and coming, wave after wave and I didn’t feel like I was having a baby, I felt like I was having a BUS!
I don’t know why I ever believed my mother in the first place, after all, she had lied about Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny… the tooth fairy.
What was I thinking?
Something happens to you when you are pregnant though.
Unlike what they say about expectant mothers I did not have that special “glow” associated with pregnancy.
I still to this day find myself staring at other pregnant women looking to see if they have the “glow”.
I have not seen it yet.
Pregnant women are uncomfortable, they look uncomfortable and by the eighth month they look and feel like they are bursting like a ripe peach.
You have a living, growing human being inside your body.
Your skin is being stretched to its ultimate capacity and organs are squashed into any available space, like your ears.
Size ten football boots are using your ribcage as a spring board, and a head the size of a basketball is bouncing on your bladder.
Pregnant women do not “glow”…they sweat.
I remember vividly the song playing on the car radio as we arrived at the hospital to have our first child.
“We gotta get outta this place, if its the last thing we ever do!”
We were soon informed it was a case of false labour.
The second time we arrived at the hospital the song playing on the radio was,
“I got you…under my skin!”
By now I was close to ten days overdue with this baby so when they suggested “induction of labour” I wasn’t putting up a fight.
The time had come and I was ready!
Or so I thought.
Labour pains are truly like no other pain you have EVER experienced.
It felt as though all my lower abdominal organs were being put through an old fashioned clothes wringer.
The intensity of the pain with each contraction was simply unbelievable.
I know some women seem to cope with labour like true earth mothers, spitting their babies out effortlessly, but not me.
Period pains indeed.
I had never before in my life needed an epidural for period pains but I sure as heck needed one now!
After waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the anesthesiologist to arrive I was told to lie completely still so the needle could be inserted into my back.
If I’d have been asked to do a triple back flip I couldn’t have reacted with any more disbelief.
It was an extremely difficult feat when in the midst of a mind crushing contraction all I wanted to do was moan and flail about on the bed like a beached whale.
Timing was imperative but finally, only after I had let loose with a few nasty expletives, the task was complete.
I was in heaven.
The nurses and my husband left me alone for a while to get some rest before the delivery, but it was then, all alone, that I began to get very frightened.
I realize now that I was experiencing “transition” -the period just before the baby is about to be born.
I also began to feel, to my horror, as though I needed to go to the toilet.
I had declined the enema offered to me earlier and now I was berating myself for doing so.
How would I manage this? My legs felt like lead logs on the end of my body.
Pressing the nurse call button I told her I needed to use a bedpan but she assured me it was probably just the baby’s head moving down and not to worry…
(Nobody warned me that the sensation prior to giving birth is like feeling as though you need to have the biggest bowel movement of your life!)
She went away but the feeling just got worse.
I called her again and reluctantly she checked and exclaimed in surprise that the baby’s head was THERE!
Where? I was alarmed. Was it coming out of the right place?
My husband had gone out with a friend to grab some dinner with a friend but luckily they decided to skip dessert, so he made it back just in time to see his first baby girl enter the world.
What a moment…that first meeting with a brand new soul, and it’s just as special and awe inspiring every time.
There are no words to accurately describe it. Pure joy comes close.
She was so quiet, lying peacefully in my arms, eyes wide open and alert.
The most beautiful and perfect little thing I had ever seen.
My husband would not take his eyes off her for a second and although he didn’t say, I’m sure he was worried they were going to accidentally mix her up with the other newborns and we would go home with the wrong baby.
He followed her everywhere and watched as she had her first bath, all the other babies screaming while she lay so calm and quiet.
It’s amazing how quickly you do “forget” the ordeal – and pain of childbirth.
Until you find yourself back on that delivery table…
In my case, I needed reminding three more times.
Something happens to you though, once you have given birth.
You feel as though you are part of an exclusive club.
A bond is shared between you and other mothers…a “knowing” that cannot be put into words, which extends into the experience of the many years of then living with, loving, nurturing and raising these children.
When my daughters ask me, “Mum, just how painful is giving birth?” I will not lie to them.
I will tell them…
“It’s like passing a watermelon with shoulders.”