Pregnancy is a chore.
There, I said it.
For me it wasn’t all daffodils and daisies, like some of those books and blogs make it out to be.
Of course we all know that you gain weight and swell a little, but there are so many things that nobody talks about: like the tiny feet digging into your ribs for 3 months straight that ‘Dr Google’ tells you could be debilitating liver disease, or the fear every night that sleeping on your back will somehow kill your unborn baby.
For me, the nightmare was real and it was long. I mean, think about it – 9 months is almost a year!
By the time my precious chickpea arrived, on September 11 2016, my patience for my swollen legs, huge belly and soft-cheese-less dinners had completely evaporated, so much so that I could not be more excited for delivery. My close friend has delivered a few weeks prior and had not even noticed that her contractions had started, giving birth shortly after her water breaking.
Of course I knew that each birth was different, but since the experience of pregnancy turned out to be a big, fat lie for me, why wouldn’t labor then be easy?
Well of course it isn’t.
I had my first contraction at around 5pm on the 10th of September, at the beach. I was walking my dog, with my sister, her husband and my baby-to-be’s father. My dog decided to go for a little frolic in the sand dunes, forcing me to run with him, carrying his leash. After around 5 heavy steps I felt a little crunch in my uterus. A feeling of a tearing of some kind, then some minutes later contractions commenced.
At first the contractions were a dull pain, always between 5-15 minutes apart, never actually becoming regular. At 6am the next morning my water broke and with signs of merconium in my amniotic fluid I was directed to come straight in for induction.
I was given drugs to induce delivery via IV, as well as antibiotics. The pain by this point was excruciating, not to mention just uncomfortable. I was vommiting frequently and then, from exhaustion, feeling extremely light headed. After 3 more hours of this, with the midwife annoyingly poking me with every tightening of my uterus, I opted for an epidural.
For those of you that say ‘I would never’, bite your tongue… I was one of you! My birth plan was non-existent, I believed that I would be able to soldier through the pain and deliver naturally, but there was nothing natural about the pain that I endured.
After an hour or so the epidural finally kicked in, then an instant calm ensued. We waited and waited patiently, all the while the midwife and Registrars were watching the monitor closesly, seeing my little angel’s heart rate plummet and rise, with each contraction, indicating stress. At this point I was only around 5cm dilated, meaning that it was not an option to deliver yet.
The doctors poked around at my stomach and uterus, sitting me up, lying me back down and in the meanwhile, disconnecting my epidural. Within 30minutes I was starting to get sharp pains shooting up my abdomen again, this time with such ferocity that I began to stress.
My partner, a Doctor, very reluctantly checked my epidural and eventually noticed the disconnection. By the time they could reconnect it the pain was so intense, that I was nauseas again. My temperature began to rise and I started to have a fever. My baby was stressed, her heart rate rising to over 210 bps. The room was a frantic mess. Unfortunately I was not dilated enough to give birth without assistance, so at around 7cm dilated the Doctors decided to assist me in my vaginal delivery manually.
The baby was pulled from my uterus, using a vacuum and the kind obsterician’s hands, unfortunately getting stuck on my narrow hip bones, needing to be cut from my birth canal.
As you can imagine, this was a traumatic experience, particularly for my partner who witnessed the aftermath.
My beautiful newborn baby was then slapped onto my empty tummy, the cord cut and was raced off to the resuscitation table for assessment and some IV antibiotics.
Those few seconds that her little red body lay screaming on mine were all I needed to forget the attrocities that my body had endured.
The registrar sat below me, stitching up the large episiotomy as I lay in bed smiling and daydreaming about the future with my little chickpea.
In that moment I knew that she had healed me.
Matilda, my love of my life.