I'm lying in bed, feeding my baby in pain, because life goes on.
We found a number for a midwife and she did our pregnancy care until she referred us to a decorated Obstetrician at a private hospital. We had health insurance, we were moving to the area and she told us that he was a very good practitioner. I don’t remember an alternative being offered.
Despite my initial uneasiness at him being a male, I agreed. He’s a professional with international experience and 40 years of births, his gender shouldn’t matter. If I had to pinpoint why I prefer female doctors, masseuses and beauticians I would have to say something about 'it’s my body' and 'it’s between my husband and me'.
The rest of my pregnancy care went smoothly. He did one internal exam at 39 weeks. I remember going to every appointment, anxiety growing, thinking, 'is he going to look at me today?' Then the relief that I had gotten away with it this week.
I shouldn’t worry though, the receptionist told me he was very good.
We discussed induction and as I hadn’t heard good things about it I had my husband come to the next appointment with me and we asked a few more questions. At this appointment my doctor described me as ‘pushing back’ at him for mentioning induction.
The birth was good, yes it was painful, but it could have been worse. We had a wonderful midwife who helped me breathe, gave me gas and told us we were lucky to have our doctor, he was one of the best.
I wanted to avoid a number of things during labour but I got them all; induced with broken waters, epidural, episiotomy and forceps. At the end I was happy with my birth story, I remember profusely thanking our doctor. I had a healthy baby boy and I did feel really good about my birth, until 11 weeks later when I still hadn’t healed.
I bled for four weeks then it stopped then it started again. I had pimples down there(!). I didn’t know that was possible. I stopped wearing pads because my pimples would pop and then the raw, bloody site would scratch sharply on the cotton. I had the mother of all haemorrhoids. I had sharp pains in my pelvis.
This was my first baby so I didn’t know what to expect. I remember in a pre-admission telephone interview with a midwife asking, ‘what happens to my body after I have a baby?’ I wondered if I could get up and walk the next day, when I could touch my toes again, could I lay on my stomach? I felt caged in my pregnant body, the constant frustration at what I couldn’t do. I was told I needed to give my body time to get back to the way it was.
Equally, when I went to my six week appointment post birth, I didn’t know what to expect. My sister told me the doctor would do a pap smear (man, I hate those). I told myself to suck it up, that an OB was going to be in and out quicker than a GP.