I like to tell my pregnant friends that the best way to maintain your dignity while giving birth is to just let go of it completely.
I feel like this somewhat philosophical approach is really the best way to approach things in the delivery suite. Be zen. Let go. Embrace the chaos. Be at one with the contraction.
But, well, you and I know that dignity during birth is a unicorn.
Here are the seven things we are really thinking while we're giving birth.
1. Oh god. I sound like a cow.
Giving birth is about being in the moment and doing what your body is going to do. But it's like an out of body experience. There's a part of me that is busy having the baby, but also a part of me watching and wondering if you're the one actually making those noises. I absolutely sounded like a cow. In fact, at several points I sounded like a herd of cows.
2. Oh god. Is this gas doing anything?
To this day I maintain the gas does nothing. Science would suggest this statement to be completely false, as would my husband, who is certain it helped. (But then, what would he know?) All I know is that the tube was good for biting down on in the middle of the contraction and breathing the right way to actually get the gas out probably provided enough of a distraction so I could at least pretend there was pain relief.
3. Oh god. Where is the anesthetist?
As I prepared for birth in the weeks leading up to it, I had the bright idea of including a note for my husband in my birth plan asking him not to get the anesthetist the first time I asked for it. This was a mistake. If you're thinking about this, I would recommend you don't.
Anesthetists are in hot demand on a delivery ward, and by the time you've finally asked for one you need to factor in a delay.
By the time my anesthetist was ready to give me my epidural that ship had well and truly sailed.
4. Oh god. I think I just did a poo.
For the most part, the only way I knew I had was because there was a moment where I realised that a midwife had wiped my bottom. I remember thinking, "that's an awfully strange place to wipe. It's the wrong end of things. Why would she wipe... Ohhhh. Oh god. I think I just did a poo."
On one level I want to get confirmation on this fact from my husband, but I feel like that might take the limited romance and mystery we have left in our relationship well and truly out of it.
5. Oh god. Why didn't I book in a Cesarean?
Because there's nothing like transition to make you really question yourself.
6. Oh god. Get out of me.
I actually remember yelling, "GET. OUT. OF ME." at some point during my stage two. I remember it only because the obstetrician thought I was yelling it at her. I wasn't.
I was yelling it at the baby.
I potentially swore at it.
7. Oh god. I did it.
My first birth was a C-section, and it was really a very positive experience. My spinal was filled with morphine, so I was pretty high for the procedure and I recovered quite quickly. It was planned and I didn't even have a braxton-hicks before I was wheeled into theature.
I became deeply interested in labour so for my second I was pretty serious about having a crack, so to speak, at a vaginal birth if only so I could satisfy the curiosity I had.
I learned a lot about myself, delivering a baby through my birth canal. I'm strong and even when I think I have nothing left, I still have a lot more to give. But I also learned that there is nothing quite like the immediate relief you feel when the baby is out, and there is nothing quite like the moment the baby is placed on your chest and you think, oh god. I did it.
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