Today marks one year since the birth of my little Womb Raider. I can hardly believe it as I type this because it’s gone so incredibly fast! Over the past year I’ve written all kinds of stuff about us, but never really delved into how she made it into the world. So here goes…… *WARNING – GRAPHIC IMAGERY AHEAD*
Pre Labour. It was a sunny Monday and The Husband needed to attend an important meeting in town, so I decided to go along even though I was fairly sure today would be the day. I just had an inkling. I waddled my 80kg self around the harbour side of Sydney looking at birds and feeding my face with an ice cream sundae bigger than my head. I was fat, swollen, sweaty and actually quite content. At one point I thought my waters may have broken, so I just refused to move in case I dribbled a trail behind me in full view of Sydney’s corporate crowd. False alarm. Bits of my mucous plug started coming out and scaring the beejebus out of me every time I visited the toilet. I had been warned of this in a Calm Birth course I did with The Husband (in fact it was described as a slug in your pants – not far off really). The Husband finished his meeting and we started heading towards home. During the drive The Husband and I nervously laughed as the radio announced major traffic problems on our route home, but thankfully we managed to be a few moments ahead of the issues and made it through with me experiencing my first contraction about 15 mins from our front door. I went upstairs and finished my invoicing (yes I am crazy) until about 10pm, then get out the TENS machine I’d hired and start zapping my back and giggling as the contractions start becoming more regular. I took a warm bath while things were still entertaining and exciting.
Labour. Things started getting really painful so The Husband and I decided to take the hour-long drive to my mum’s place near the hospital at 4am so we could avoid potentially having to drive through peak hour traffic later down the track. The last thing I wanted is morning commuters to see me grimacing through my contractions! There had been little sleep despite the suggestion by the hospital midwife to just sleep for a while…. yeah right. I was wearing a blue fluffy nighty my mum gave me, 5 year old Ugg Boots and baggy pyjamas. I looked sharp! Each speed hump made me howl in agony and clutch the handle of the door, begging for the journey to end. Once at mum’s I spent several hours moving from the rocking chair to the shower to the kitchen. This was where I stamped my feet whilst yelling and watching mum’s 6 cats dive for cover. The Husband took a nap. Something resembling a cross between a purple jellyfish and a huge lump of snot landed in my pants while he dozed, and suddenly the pain started becoming extremely hard to manage. So we got ready to leave for the hospital and I screamed “This baby had better be cute, or I’ll be f**king pissed off”. Priorities.
We arrived at the hospital after another terrible car ride and as I hobbled towards the front doors of the Maternity complex I leaned on someone’s SUV to have another contraction. My waters broke into my Ugg Boots. A female passer-by wished me luck with a knowing smile. In the lift on the way up I had another contraction and my Ugg Boots overflowed with amniotic fluid. Squelchy. We waved down some nice man with a bucket and mop who came and swiftly cleaned up the lift. This entrance was witnessed by a bunch of pregnant women waiting for their antenatal appointments and the looks on their faces I will never erase. I had a bag packed with an iPod, exercise ball, aromatherapy oils and other creative ways to get through the pain, but none of it got unpacked. I just stripped off and leaned against the wall in the shower, that was about the only thing I could cope with. It had been more than 24 hrs since the first contraction and I was starting to lose patience with this birthing crap. I was becoming acutely aware that this is not how it went down in the videos I watched in the Calm Birth course. I was not smiling, crying, hugging The Husband or looking adoringly down at my massive hooters and embracing Earth-Motherness. I was angry, tired, HUGE and I want this god-damned baby out of me already.
Many more hours passed with me naked in the shower leaning against the wall while each contraction took over. Each time a contraction came, I dumped another 5 litres or so of amniotic fluid on the floor. I told The Husband that I was dying and we decide to try some gas. It made me feel sick so I gave up on that very quickly. At this point I had been in labour for 30 hours and my legs didn’t work anymore. Screw the Calm Birth – it’s epidural time. On cue, a bitch-from-hell midwife and anaesthetist walked in, turned on all the lights and started yelling at me. I curled up with my head in The Husband’s chest, biting his arm and losing my breath with each contraction. For an hour, they tried – and failed- to get the epidural in. Eventually they succeeded and I was given a huge bottle of apple juice to drink as a reward and nice lie down in the dark for some rest. An hour which turned out to be 20 minutes in doctor speak. Then they turned off the drugs and told me to start pushing. I wanted to kill everybody.
The Birth. I was ordered by bitch-from-hell midwife to start pushing. She had the student midwife wheel a mirror to the end of the bed so I could “get inspired” to push. I took a look and all I could concentrate on were the elephants painted on the edges of the mirror. I thought that this was a bit odd. From time to time between pushes I would catch a glimpse of my huge swollen v jay jay. And I would vomit into a bag that The Husband was holding. It tasted of sour apple juice. Which made me vomit again, and again until we had to replace the bag. This happened several times. Short of my head spinning the scene looked not unlike The Exorcist. The floor was covered in amniotic fluid, and the place looked like the set of a bloody B-Grade Horror film. I was not really ‘with it’ at all. Finally, after 2 hours of pushing I could see the baby’s head. I could feel myself ripping but I knew from enough documentaries that once the head was out, my job was done. I gave another push and The Husband caught the Womb Raider. 3.20am… 34 hours later… job done. Holy shit.
After a few checks I was handed the warm, slippery, grey-looking baby. The Husband said “You look like about as excited as if you’d been handed a pile of junk mail.” I felt nothing because I was so exhausted. The important thing was that I hadn’t died and I finally had a baby. No tears, no emotion, just….nothing.
The Husband snapped a few pictures of the hour following the birth that are now so horrifying to look at I still get anxious when I see them. Over the years, I have seen many friends post pictures of themselves on facebook – allegedly of them right after the birth. Most of them look serene and beautiful, with the odd couple looking akin to some Hollywood stars post birth. Amazing. Well there was no way I was going to post the picture of me vomiting juice into the plastic bag. Or the charming one The Husband took of me attempting to breastfeed the baby, legs spread on the edge of the bed splattered in blood. Or the trail of blood leading to the bathroom, or that fucking elephant mirror.
Let’s just say I looked like shit and avoided that facebook update, instead posting a picture of my Womb Raider looking cute in her first onesie.
But now, exactly one year later I feel like it’s fair to women out there to see what you really look like after 34 hours of labour. Not good. Vanity aside, here it is. I have 8 chins and 20 extra kilos, but that’s the real deal. And I am one proud mamma to have made it to 1!