What is childbirth really like?

An empowering, intense tale of an amazing day that changed my life FOREVER…but you don’t want to know that being a mum is the most overwhelming, fulfilling thing I have ever done in my life. You’re here to hear about my birthing experience and what it was like for me. Everybody’s childbirth is different and I’m sure yours will be different to mine.

When you first get pregnant, one thing I’ve found mums like to do is tell you the absolute horror stories of the day they gave birth. The “I nearly died during labour”, “I was ripped from head to toe”, “My bladder has never been the same”, “It was like trying to give birth to an apartment building including clotheslines and swimming pools” stories, no pregnant woman wants to hear that. And that’s not what I’m about to do—traumatise you. Nor am I about to say that it was like skipping through fields full of tulips on a summer’s day and I sighed, squatted and there was my beautiful baby boy. It was a huge birthing pool of emotions: exciting, intense, happy, moments of calm and sheer panic all rolled into one.

Being the type who believes a paper cut is worthy of an ambulance being called, everyone was a little bit worried about how I might cope with the pain of childbirth. To be honest, deep down I was more than a little nervous given that the slightest stomach ache and I’m convinced death is embracing me. All I knew was I wanted a natural birth and I was going to make this process as pain-free as possible. No drugs. So I investigated all avenues of natural birthing, taking hypnobirthing classes with Shari, looking into acupuncture and acupressure with Rasia. I had a birthing plan (ie: give birth, look glam for photos and be home in four hours). It was more organised than my suitcase, which you can even read about what I packed in another blog.

It was 6pm at night when I started to feel period type pain. I thought to myself, well if this is labour I should probably eat first. I didn’t even get through my food before I started feeling ill and any appetite I had previously was gone. Around 8pm the contractions started so I sat and gently bounced through each one on my birthing ball (Exactly like a big swiss ball for exercise). It allows you to lean on them, sit on them and change positions. They came on pretty fast and intensely, only 30 seconds every three to four minutes, So much for every five or fifteen minutes.

When I started to struggle, I decided there was nothing more in life that I wanted than a shower.

I put my yoga mat on the floor and dragged in my birthing ball, and draped myself over the ball. I just did what felt comfortable and right. I changed positions and moved from side to side. I thought I was only in there for 20 minutes, but my perception of time was on the blink because it ended up being an hour, and even though the contractions were 30 seconds to a minute, it felt like they were NEVER going to end. So I just focused on making it from one contraction to the next, nothing outside of that existed.

After my shower, I went back into the living room with my husband. He was an amazing support—faultless to a tee. At this point I had the lights dimmed, I was playing hypnobirthing music, in between praying and playing worship music.

It’s funny what I thought I would like during my labour versus what I actually ended up doing. For example, I wanted acupuncture and absolutely hated it. I tried a soft-touch technique and hated it. I basically didn’t want to be touched at all during my labour and only wanted to hold onto David for support or hold his hand through contractions.

Around midnight, we made the call to my mum who came over and by this stage all my breathing techniques had gone out the window and I was becoming very vocal and quite honestly didn’t care who heard. Mum decided we needed to go to the hospital ASAP. My what I was going to wear to the hospital outfit, well there was no time for that. I was without pants—just a t-shirt and my knickers. Not the ideal outfit when you live in an apartment building.

Being in a high rise, we had to get the elevator to the ground floor, while David rushed to get the car out of the underground car park and meet us out the front. By this point, I had gone into what I like to call my Bear Grylls full survival mode and decided there was no way I could stand, so was out front of the building on all four, no pants, bellowing like a bull. After several unsuccessful attempts to get me into the car, there was only one option—to call an ambulance. Much to my horror, there were a few residents still coming and going who cheered me on with a “You can do it!” By this stage, I was thinking I definitely cannot.

There is nothing like the relief of hearing the sweet sounds of ambulance sirens. It was a short, fast trip to the hospital. And despite the rumours my work colleague Mathew spread about giving birth in the back of the ambulance, I did make it to the birthing suite where my midwife (bless her cotton socks) was waiting. I clambered into the birthing pool and was supported by Mum and David. I found the water very relaxing and the midwife was still happy for me to proceed with natural birth.

A few hours later I was really feeling burnt out and got a bit disheartened that even though my labour progressed so quickly and I was 8cm dilated on arrival, there was still no sign of my new baby. I’m not going to lie there were many times when I told my mum and David I couldn’t do it anymore (20 times, probably more) and the doctors offered to intervene with drugs. But I flipped a switch and pulled myself together and gave myself a pep talk. I went strangely quiet and mustered up every last ounce of energy and with a few pushes, my beautiful baby boy arrived. I was so proud of myself. No longer would I cry over a paper cut, I was powerful. I created (okay when I say I….I mean we created) this little living breathing person and the moment I laid eyes on him, I knew I would go into full survival mode to do everything I could to make sure he had the best possible life.

Okay so while you’re reading this and feeling just as weepy as I am at the intensity of all all, there were a few little complications with my placenta refusing to vacate it’s comfy hotel and I needed a few stitches but other than that I was a powerful woman (Hear me roar! Or at least all the residents in my highrise did, when they reported to management about someone having very loud sex in the middle of the night). Home in four hours, just like I planned in my birthing plan.

August the 7th was a day that changed my life forever. Not only the way the residents in our apartment building look at me when we pass in the hallway, but in knowing that I would go through all that pain again to get the beautiful family I have.

Romans 8:18, NIV: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

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