Someone asked me a few months after I had him, what’s the one thing about childbirth I wish I’d known before hand?
God, there are so many things I wish I’d known. And not just about childbirth, but the after effects too.
For the actual childbirth part, I wish I’d known to ask more questions. I was induced, which was briefly explained, but little did I realise I would start having pains immediately. Or that my partner would be sent home.
I wish I’d known that our hospital has a ‘no overnight guests’ policy. I was induced at 8pm on a Sunday evening, he was sent away around 10pm. I spent two nights alone and in pain, my partner only able to be with me during the day. Then on Tuesday night at about 9.30pm our little man arrived, and a few hours later my partner was again sent away. I wish I’d known this sooner as I found it very emotional having to say goodbye to him. In such an emotional, painful situation, the one person who could calm me, keep me level, the person who would be my voice when I couldn’t speak, was not by my side.
I wish I’d known how scared I would feel. When the midwife leaned her head out of the door to yell, and I mean yell, for another midwife to come, I was briefly terrified. Suddenly there were 6 doctors and midwives in the room all looking at monitors and talking back and forth in what felt like code and I was spread out between them all. It felt calm and panicked at the same time.
I wish I’d known how scary it was going to be for my partner. He was sitting on a chair, watching this unfold, feeling like he was in the way. Sitting watching me in pain, watching the monitors and hearing our baby’s heartbeat drop. Feeling helpless in that moment, being unable to provide any help to me or our soon to be baby.
I wish I’d known my son was going to be quite lazy about coming into the world, he definitely wanted to do it on his terms. A character trait that has merely gotten stronger as he has gotten older. And he didn’t seem to like being rushed. The medication they gave me to speed up the labour only annoyed him and caused his heart rate to drop. Which was the cause of the yelling and the multiple doctors. He did this twice over the course of a few hours, the second time giving the doctor cause enough to decide to perform an emergency c-section.
I wish I’d know how quick an emergency c-section can be. From making the decision to cut, to me holding my son was 45 minutes, maybe an hour? And it all moved so quickly and felt so blurred.
I did know how many people to expect to be in the room for a c-section (thank you antenatal class) but I was still surprised at the number of people in masks (before they were fashionable) that were floating around me. I sat and moved as directed, leaning forward and holding on as they injected my lower back, all the while thinking ‘my son’s birthday is April 23rd’. I repeated that statement in my mind over and over as they moved me, lay me down. ‘My son’s birthday is April 23rd.’ As my partner was brought into me. As he held my hand and I could feel, well, nothing honestly ‘cause the epidural was doing its job amazingly. Honestly, nothing from the boobs down. My head, neck and arms were all I could feel. It was freakish and tremendous.
I wish I’d known how little all of the before would matter once he was lying on my chest.
Afterwards, I wish I’d known not to google or research every little thing. Especially not in the darkest hours of the night. I wound up down some dark rabbit holes on google, which only led to me feeling even more terrified and incompetent.
What I did know, is that my family and friends are amazing, but I didn’t know just how amazing. They called with food for the freezer, or to take baby for half an hour so I could shower. They did the washing up while I fed him. They ignored the mess of me, the state of our house and the torrent of swearing that was coming from me as he fed. They were simply there to be there, to support us and be an extra pair of hands once my partner had to go back to work.
What I did know, is that all my baby needed was to be safe and loved and fed. Like us all really, but at a very base level. And so long as we could give him that and can continue to give him that, the rest of it can all fade away.