Whoops, I’m sitting here eating a pack of Toffy Pops, actually, Toffyooze, the cheaper Aldi version and completely forgot it was Sunday. This week we have anon blogger Ellamental Mama sharing her birth story, her almost single mum birth story…
Ellamental Mama is a thirty-something-year-old single mother to a lively toddler. She writes an alternative blog on single motherhood providing an honest and raw, as well as sometimes amusing account of life as a single working mum. Her blog covers relationship breakdowns, feminist parenting and all things single parenting related.
The Almost Single Mum Birth Story
“Are you sure it’s safe to carry that all the way home, it’s quite heavy”, asked my mum in a concerned voice. “Oh yeah”, I joked, “once you’re 37 weeks it doesn’t matter anyway because carrying heavy things just triggers labour, and that’s fine.”
It was a Thursday afternoon. I’d been on maternity leave for a few days, trying to get the house sorted ready for the baby’s arrival. I’d popped out to buy a big mat for the hallway. My once scuzzy flat looked like a show home with the new carpet and I wanted to keep it that way. I got home about thirty minutes later. What had seemed not too heavy at the start gradually became almost unbear
That night I barely slept. My husband at the time was on quite strong medication. I knew it was important he got his sleep so I kept as quiet as possible. The pains were bearable, to begin with, but by 3 am they were really ramping up. By 5 am I was in a *lot* of pain. My brain wasn’t quite with it though and I worried about all the things I still had on my ‘maternity leave to do’ list. Like waxing my legs and moving the bed to make room for a cot. So I decided to get busy. It was about as amusing a sight as you could imagine – a woman in labour hunched over the shower trying to rip little pieces of plastic from her hairy legs in between the – by now very regular – contractions. I gave up, figured the midwives would survive seeing my patchwork legs.
I was doubled over with the pain now. Perhaps I should wake my husband, what if I was actually about to give birth? I tried to get him to time the contractions. He did a few. Then he got bored. We phoned the hospital. I should wait it out, they said.
I asked my husband to move the bed. He was tired, wanted to sleep. I managed to half move it myself, then I gave up. I’d got to the point of grabbing the furniture as I let out loud guttural screams, vaguely aware that the neighbours must wonder what was happening.
By 8 am I’d had enough. “I’m going to have this baby. You have to get up. We have to go.” He called a cab. We phoned my mum to let her know. She was shocked; she’d expected to hear when it started, not as we headed to the hospital.
The walk from the taxi drop off point to the labour ward was the longest I’d ever made. Every time a contraction hit me I was clutching on to the wall. I could feel people looking at me, felt a sense of shame like I shouldn’t be making such a scene. I was encapsulated in a bubble of pain and determination, it didn’t matter what anyone thought. I had one job to do – make it to that room and deliver this baby.
We arrived as a disheartened looking couple were leaving. I could sense they were being sent home, ‘not far along enough’ as they seem to say. I hoped that was not about to be us.*
I was 3cm dilated. The midwife asked me to go for a walk around the building. I remember thinking what the hell. I could barely walk up here and that was in the lift. I never did leave that room.
The next few hours are a blur. The midwife suggested we use the shower as pain relief. It was about as ridiculous as suggesting we light candles to calm the mood (we never did try that one). The thing with the shower spray is that the timing has to be accurate to the nearest millisecond – if the water sprays against your back at the wrong moment, it’s utter agony. Let’s just say, aiming was not my husband’s forte. The screams I emitted were loud enough to bring the midwife running to check I wasn’t being hacked to death. We stopped the water
pain relief torture shortly after.
I’d previously tested positive for Strep B so I needed an antibiotic drip. The midwife tried to put in the line. It went wrong. They got another medic to try. It went wrong again. In came the consultant to try. By this point I had my eyes shut, trying to block out the pain. You would think with a small person trying to exit me, the least of my worries would be a needle being banged into my hand. I opened my eyes. The blood spluttering around was unreal. No wonder I was in agony. I wished with all my might that someone could read my mind. I wanted to tell them to put it in during the short seconds between my contractions. Don’t try to stab me when my body is reverberating with the pressure of a small human trying to push out of my vagina. It was like being pulled into some hell hole vortex of pain. Finally, a line was found. The relief poured into me with the antibiotic.
To give you an idea of the kind of pain I’ll share one moment with you. Some medics walked into the room. I was on all fours on the bed, naked. The midwife placed a thin sheet over me to protect my dignity. I fervently clutched at it and pushed it off. The pain from the pressure of the sheet was more than I could handle.
In the antenatal class, we were told there is often a downtime moment just before you start to push. I think that was the moment at which I sat up, put down the gas and said in a deep, dark voice, to my husband, “you owe me a fucking vodka**.”
Then the shit got real. It was time to push. I remember the midwife taking away the gas from me. Erm, how was I supposed to cope now?
This is where I think the antenatal classes get it wrong. There’s lots mentioned about contractions but so very little about the pushing, and it’s bloody hard work. Maybe that’s so obvious no-one feels the need to mention it beyond a passing glance. I for one would have appreciated a bit more of a heads up though. If I’m honest, I think the whole labour process is designed back to front, I mean after all those contractions you don’t have the energy to pee, let alone push out a baby. I think the success rate would be a lot better with the pushing at the start when you still have energy.
After three hours of pushing and a few furtive glances from the midwife who was steadily becoming more concerned with the baby’s heartbeat, she pressed the emergency button. A doctor and her entourage appeared within seconds. I remember thinking I should be worried. I wasn’t – there is no space for fear in labour. Despite the fact I looked anything but serene (I think it was the excessive swearing that ruined it for me), inside I felt incredibly so. Like destiny was taking it’s course. The midwife got down to eye level and said, “they are going to cut you. You need to get him out with this push”. I remember thinking, “err lady, do you not think I’ve been trying?” But she was right. Destiny needed a little more help. With one almighty push, my son shot out of me with a huge rip. He was born at 3.53pm, weighing in at a healthy 6 pounds and 9 ounces. Thank God he was a ‘small’ baby, that’s all I can say.
At the time I screamed in disbelief, “A baby, oh my God, it’s my baby”, over and over as I looked down at this little squidgy bundle of blueness the midwife has placed on my belly. It was the most emotional moment in my life. Suddenly lying on me was a human, a human I had made and would be entrusted to protect for the next decade or two.
For a good few days afterwards, I felt like I had been rolled over by a steam train. I remember the look of horror on a friend when I retold the story. But you know what. The pain went. And by God, he was worth every little bit of it.
**He never did buy me one.
You can follow Ellamental Mama on Facebook and Twitter or pop over to her blog at ellamentalmama.com.
For more birth stories see HERE.