Often, life doesn’t turn out the way we expect. It turns out better!
As I hit my 287th day of pregnancy (not that anyone’s counting), I knew my body was giving me the middle finger by prolonging this pregnancy for as long as possible. Our firstborn Elias was born just short of 42 weeks gestation, which is equivalent to about two hundred years.
Just like her antagonising big brother, our second baby Lucy was showing no signs of exit as I approached 41 weeks. With much optimism, I had hoped that since my body already knew how to squeeze a watermelon out that perhaps she would come at week 37. But week 38, 39 and 40 passed and she was a no-show.
Doomed to a scheduled induction set on the 22nd of February, I started to line up my ducks. I called in reinforcements, namely, my amazing sister who travelled two hours and left behind her own offspring to babysit Elias. Check. Hospital bag packed. Check. Birth announcement drafted and ready for posting. Check. Sheer refusal to write a birth plan knowing that nothing ever goes to plan. Check. Birth date confirmed – in my mind, which means this is happening for reals – check.
I waltzed into my post-dates antenatal appointment like Julie Andrews on the Sound of Music, knowing – in my mind – that such-and-such date was the day that I would no longer carry a fetus. I would finally be free from the big sick joke beautiful miracle that is growing a human being.
Following some routine checks, fetal monitoring and a dignifying stretch and sweep that you will never forget, my midwife told me some news that would send me into a next level meltdown.
“The birth unit is really busy so I’m afraid we’ve had to reschedule your induction to the 23rd of February.”
OMG. What? Brain no compute.
Nobody took a photo of my facial expression but I’m pretty sure I looked like this:
OK so I was in the high-risk clinic at Westmead Hospital (public of course – I’m not paying for an epidural!) due to having mild Haemophilia. That’s the documented reason. I also believe that a hungry, hot, hormonal and very sarcastic pregnant lady is of considerably high risk for everyone, which ‘unofficially’ is the other reason I was there.
Now, I don’t know if you did the math, but the difference between the 22nd and 23rd is one day. ONE DAY people. One day is nothing in ‘non-pregnant people’ terms. It is not a big deal. But when you’ve given over your body to hyperemesis, extreme fatigue, water retention, chronic rhinitis, sleep deprivation and achy-breaky joints for nine months, one day is ETERNITY.
That afternoon, I waddled to my car crying like a big baby, wiping away floods of tears and completely overtaken by having to wait another 24 hours to give birth. I sobbed and made my way home wearing Husband’s shirt and shoes as not even my maternity clothes could house my giant beached whale-like body anymore.
That night, my feet and hands started to itch. I noticed a decrease in baby movements and thought, what the hey, I’ll call the birth unit and see what they say. Secretly, I hoped they would tell me to go back to bed and stop being such a hypochondriac because I didn’t want to haul my ass into hospital at 2am. Instead, they suggested I come in and get checked.
The next day I was admitted into hospital for close monitoring and… My induction date was brought forward to the 22nd. WIN-NING. I redeemed 24 hours back!
In the wee hours of the 21st of February, I lay in that hospital bed dreaming about having regular contractions that were 1-2 minutes apart. Awaking from my slumber I realised I was having contractions and that all my wildest dreams had come true. Things progressed very quickly and within the hour, I was carted to the birth unit barely able to speak as the contractions came in hard and fast.
In the shower, I consulted with Husband about whether I should opt for an epidural. This was my window of opportunity and my pain threshold was decreasing. I’d gone from ‘every contraction brings my baby closer to me’ to ‘I’m a big emotional cry baby and cannot deal.’
I opted for the crème-de-la-crème of pain relief. An epidural. Looking back, it was a great choice. Only a few hours later it was time to push and I gave birth to Lucy, our Whopper with Cheese who weighed 4.5kg. The entire birth experience was in complete contrast to Elias – spontaneous labour, no forceps, no fetal distress, all done in six hours and complication free. I walked out of there on sunshine. (Actually, I was pushed out in a wheelchair all bruised, battered and broken with ice packed into my undie-grundies, but I was happy as Larry).
TBH, I felt like a train wreck for several weeks post-delivery. I could barely function let alone string together a complete sentence due to vegetable brain. Today, three months postpartum, there’s still chronic pain in my body and I hobble around like an 80 year old woman. Oh well.
I have had contrasting birth experiences, with my first birth being traumatic and my second being amazing. With baby #1 it took me three months physically but about two years mentally until I felt ready to do it all over again as I pretty much went bat-shit crazy and suffered from PND/OCD/PTSD. With baby #2 I’ve felt on top of things mentally and emotionally but OMG if I carry one more baby my body just might break in half.
What’s important for us to remember is that every pregnancy and birth experience differs from woman to woman. Some #fitmums bounce into the birth ward, bounce out and recover like nothing ever happened. Some insane women inspired free-spirits feel empowered and feminine in pregnancy, wearing floral wreaths in their hair whilst baking kale cookies. But, if you’re anything like me, we stuff our faces with a balanced diet of chocolate and pizza and try not to die when cooking a baby in the searing heat of summer on 40-degree days.
If you want a natural, uncomplicated and drug-free birth that’s cool, there’s nothing wrong with planning and believing for a positive outcome. But, if birth and motherhood, in general, turns out a little different to what you imagined (and I guarantee it will), just know that as long as you and your little bub are healthy and thriving, that’s all that really matters in the end.