I don't know why I had ever banked on labour being a breeze second time around. The second pregnancy was worse than the first one - perhaps I should have taken this as a sign of things to come...
Instead, I bought into the whole 'it will be so much quicker/easier' myth and merrily planned the water birth I had missed out on with Boy One. The complications of pre-eclampsia first time round had ironically made for a relatively positive labour experience for me. Despite the world and his wife joining us in the room and fretting over my ever increasing blood pressure, things progressed as they should and baby Henry arrived naturally without too much trauma. Contractions remained bearable, I had an epidural somewhere in the middle (GLORIOUS) and despite it having worn off at the all-important pushing stage I was as relaxed as anyone could be whilst trying to negotiate a small person out of there.
I came out of hospital in February 2012 maintaining that childbirth was, actually, not that bad. The six months of raising a crying monster that followed put me off trying again for a good 18 months, but at no point did the whole birth experience deter me from having another one. 'If anything,' I told people, 'that's the easy bit!'
Well I am eating my words now. Words well and truly devoured. Three weeks ago I gave birth to my second bundle of baby boy goodness and it was not the breezy repetition of Birth One I had anticipated.
I am not writing this as a horror story. It was not, by any means, a horrific experience. Baby Jude arrived naturally, healthy, and we left hospital less than 5 hours later. There was no risk of fitting due to hypertensive crisis this time. On paper, all went well.
|At the hospital, before shit got real|
Contrary to the suggestion by the midwife that we would 'have this baby out in no time,' the birth of Boy Two was longer (23 hours), more painful (I genuinely thought the contractions were killing me at one point!) and less straight forward than that of Boy One.
I was mis-sold.
I sploshed into the birthing pool with long awaited anticipation but lasted less than an hour before demanding 'SOMETHING THAT WORKS.' Seriously, I have heard nothing but rave reviews about the benefits of the water but when it came to it, the most pain I had ever encountered was not much alleviated by a giant bath.
I puffed on gas and air, felt dizzy and light headed, and then discarded the mouthpiece in a rage, declaring 'well this is shit.'
I wanted an epidural.
I was talked out of an epidural.
Now I understand the rationale for this. The wonderful (and bloody patient) midwife explained that the baby could arrive in just an hour or two. The epidural might slow things. It might lead to an unnecessary stay in hospital the following day. My husband agreed - I had probably just reached 'The Wall' and our boy would be with us in no time. As it turned out, I would be in agony for a further SEVEN hours. I should have demanded that epidural. Every centimetre of my body was crying out for it.
Diamorphine arrived instead. I had two doses of that. What a terrible idea. Pain only marginally relieved, I became sleepy and unresponsive.
I was fucking exhausted. Falling to sleep (sat up) in between each contraction, I moaned like a wounded animal. At one stage, my better half informs me, I refused to communicate for several hours and sat silently rocking on the bed. I mean, WTF?
When my responses eventually came they were abrupt and panicked. Progress had slowed and contractions were wearing off due to low blood sugar levels.
I needed a sugary drink, by all accounts.
I refused the sugary drink.
At 10cm dilated I refused to push (yes really). I went on the most pointless strike of my life. I simply would not be participating any further in the birth of my son, thank you very much.
Everyone became concerned. Drugs were administered to strengthen contractions and force me to finish what nature had started. The midwife had a stern word.
At 3am I half-heartedly started pushing. At 5:56am we had a baby.
And then you expect the euphoric post-labour cuddle. Which I got (a momentary delight) before it became apparent that the placenta was not going to deliver. Fucking marvellous. There were talks of spinals and theatre and several attempts to 'encourage' it were made before one doctor succeeded where the others had failed. I am not going to describe how this happened, but the adjective used by my husband upon reflection of what he had witnessed was 'brutal', so you probably get the picture.
And then it was over.
At 11am, after a delightful round of tea and toast and a hot shower, we left the hospital and our life as a newly extended family of four began.
Of course it was all worth it. But I am still slightly in shock at just how bad I found things this time.
Lesson 29: Every birth is different, and women behave differently not only to each other but also to themselves in differing situations. 'Easier second time' is not always the case. In this instance, that turned out to be utter bullshit.
Ps...no certificate is given or eternal glory granted for a drug-free birth. If you think you fancy going straight for the hard stuff JUST DO IT.
The Unmumsy Mum