Labour taught me many things.
A long, slow, drawn out induction lasting over the space of three days with just paracetamol for the majority of it, taught me that I have a high pain threshold, but a low boredom threshold.
A surprisingly fast labour taught me that I again have a high pain threshold, but a low ‘let labour progress at a steady pace’ tolerance.
Hallucinations mid-contractions about farmyard animals and men with bagpipes taught me that m threshold likes gas and air, but my sensibilities despise it.
I spent much of my 2hour 49 minute ‘real’ labour – that’s the exciting bit, not quite at the pushing but its on the horizon – thinking I was salmon fishing in a stream with my dad, seeing goats and animals and threatening to punch geese with my induction drip if they came near me.
In fairness to me, I may have been a weird trippy labouring woman but I wasn’t rude… Mostly. There was one occasion when D was talking to a midwife, and I growled at him to ‘Shut… Up….’. Once the contraction had passed, I apologised to them all in a very small voice, saying ‘I’m sorry… You were getting on my tits’.
I have all this on the authority of D and my mum, both of whom were there, as my memories are all a little hazy. I vaguely remember saying some of the things I’m accused of, and have no memory at all of the others. The gas and air affected me a lot more than I thought it would, and add that to the hazyiness of the diamorphine – I stuck to my plan of no epidural! – it made me very trippy! Still, apparently I kept the midwives and my family amused, which is always nice to find out afterwards!
Despite the slight hazy fuzz I remember it through and the menagerie appearing in my hospital room, I’d go through the birth again in a heartbeat. Not the pregnancy, and it’ll be a long time before we’re ready to consider that again, but the birth holds such amazing memories. Not just the funny ones but the great ones too – the one that will always, always stand out will be them lifting SB straight onto my chest, this warm slippery little thing, and hearing D in my ear telling me we had a daughter, the emotion in his voice so raw, and just looking down at her and wondering how the hell I’d just created this perfect tiny human, how I’d helped to make the most beautiful thing on the planet. Hearing her cry and feeling her clutching at my skin, so little and warm and alive, feeling D’s sheer joy mixed with my own, the thrill of finally knowing our little girl – I’ve never experienced a feeling like it, nothing even close.
Nothing could’ve eliminated that massive natural high. I was being stitched for two hours afterwards – second degree tear, but it had branches, so I’m told, and was such a complicated one to fix they had to call in the consultant on call to do it. But even then I just kept at the gas and air; the euphoria of having just given birth was like some kind of painkiller anyway. I couldn’t take my eyes off my little girl.
There are two morals to the story of this blog post. The first is that it is true what they say – I think the pain was immense, but I’m not sure – it all melted away the second I saw and held my baby, and I can’t remember the pain of crowning or anything like that. It really does just go when you hold your baby in your arms.
Moral number two? Don’t pick a hospital with a giant farmyard mural in the main corridor. If you have gas and air, you will hallucinate about it.