I was recently regaling a friend, who is expecting her first baby, with the story of my three pregnancies and three labours. I was trying to make it light and jovial as appose to what it actually is.
With two of my labours I had to be induced which I liken to telling Usain Bolt to run the 100 metres in 9 seconds in his slippers, having just eating a full English breakfast and having not worked out in 6 months. His body would be severely unprepared yet he could do it since that’s what he was created for. That’s how being induced felt. My body going from zero to hero in 60 seconds, yet I was created to do it.
With my kidney transplant they categorised me as ‘high risk’ which meant I was constantly monitored with extra scans, midwife appointments and given a date for induction. 35 weeks seemed to be a date everyone could agree on. The Midwife’s were happy with baby’s health and renal were happy with mine. Everyone was fairly sure kidney, baby and I wouldn’t fair well if they let me go longer. It’s one of those things, no-ones ever been able to live and tell the tale of a kidney transplant and going full term with a baby. I wasn’t thrilled about being a guinea pig so I surrendered to the medical professionals. 35 weeks it was.
With any ‘first’ experience you are always nervous and un sure of how the course of the day will turn out. If someone had told me the course of my day would involve various meetings being held in or around my vagina I may have called in sick that day.
With baby no.1 I was started off with various tampons and gels being inserted here there, then I had a lovely bath, a walk to the ducks and a bounce on the ball. I was told if nothing was doing in 48 hours they would mark me up and pull baby out of the sun roof – so to speak.
That’s when I called in the big guns. I vividly remember lying in bed asking God to break my waters. I really didn’t want to have a C-section and add another scar to the trophy case. Within seconds of my plea a sharp tug was felt and a release, much like a bath plug being unplugged. I was drenched. Swimming to the top of my bed I pulled the magical red cord that brought in an gang of midwives. I was lifted from my waters and placed on the toilet while they cleaned and made my bed again.
The next morning with still no baby they put me on the fondly named, ‘Go-Go juice’. This is the stuff that takes your body from woman to mother. From untrained rookie to gold medal winner in less than 5 hours.
Baby no.2 was helped by little more than a crochet hook to break my waters. The attending midwife didn’t believe me when I told her the contractions had started right away. I mean why would you? Yet there I was just two hours later jumping out of the supposed “calming bath” (it’s amazing what adrenaline can do, I’ve not jumped in years) that I looked at myself in the mirror all sweaty, red faced, hair and nipples sticking out at all angles, that I announced under smothered breath; “it’s coming”.
Behold a boy dropped into our lives. I waddled smugly back to my bed like John Wayne having lost his horse. With my boy wrapped safely in my arms I looked toward the unused midwife and machinery.
So impressed was the midwife with my labouring skills that she dangled the carrot of ‘birthing suite’ to me. In hindsight she may been rubbing salt into the womb as my notes and ‘high risk’ factors very much disallowed me into the heavenly suite of lovely labours, baths, double beds and low lighting.
By number three we were back to the machines and wires except the freshly anointed midwife forbid me sitting down lest gravity didn’t have its fair share of turns in getting this one out. After hours of swaying and bouncing to ‘Boogie Wonderland’ on repeat we went with the inducing ‘Go-Go’ juice. Sixteen hours and a professional finger wiggle here and there and number three was out.
The sweetest moment that I tried to encourage my friend with wasn’t the pink screaming ball of loveliness that is lumped into your arms after all of the drama, but the true reward given to any worthy untrained marathon runner; the NHS standard tea and toast.
After each of my babies had been born and the feeling of ten double decker buses reverse parking over my body had passed, I sat in a numb post-labour glow. It feels a bit like when the war is over and you’re waiting for the dust to settle. Sat there assessing the damage when an angel walks over to me, all golden rings and everything. She delivers unto me over-buttered toast and highly sugary tepid tea. Chomping down on the only solid matter I’ve had in 48 hours it is utter bliss. A smug sense of achievement falls over me as I look over at my husband holding my tiny premature baby. Of course the real work begins once the squishy love ball is born, any sucker can give birth but becoming a mother is a work of heart. Let the real fun begin!