A Birth Story

Today’s guest post is from Rachel – an old university friend who has recently started blogging as Yumbeemum – and it moved me to tears the first time I read it. Rachel’s a new mum who primarily writes about beauty products (as she says, ‘I need them now more than ever!’), but also has an interest in writing about parenting, education and politics. 

newborn baby

I’m doing something that I was never able to do when I was pregnant. Watching One Born Every Minute. And it is absolutely amazing. When I was pregnant I abstained from watching it as I was determined not to frighten myself. People told me about it anyway though; for some reason, scaring pregnant ladies is a light-hearted past time for many women. I have to say so many of the labours sounded horrific- huge babies, episiotomies, 3 day labours… the list went on. Little did I know that had the Channel Four team been at St John’s, mine would have definitely featured.

I had a fairly straightforward pregnancy. It was almost 42 weeks long and I had 10 weeks of horrible nausea, about 6 weeks of full-on projectile vomiting, about 16 weeks of normal life, a dose of gastroenteritis, SPD (pelvic pain), and the last few weeks were long, boring and tiring. But still I wish I’d made the most of them! Compared to many people, however, I felt I’d got through it fairly lightly. And I did enjoy my pregnancy! I loved the kicking and the scans and the hiccups and the feeling that I had grown this little bundle. I loved knowing that me and this mysterious little personage had a bond that no one could ever break. I used to get emotional every time I thought about meeting this baby who was the physical representation of the love between me and my wonderful husband.

The last few weeks I was in and out of hospital. Mysterious pains, false alarms, the induction… I was so sick of the place! When things started to get into full swing, I was in agony. I arrived at hospital fully expecting to be disappointed. And I was. I was just 1cm dilated. As time went on, however, I progressed really quickly to 8cm. Then everything slowed down. And I stayed at 8cm. For six hours.

At what was to be my final examination, the midwife told me nothing had changed and she disappeared. When she returned, she said, “There’s no easy way to tell you this, Rachel, but it’s going to have to be a section.

I was devastated. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t get my baby out when I had grown her inside me for 40 weeks? Why couldn’t I do it when my mum, and my grandmother, and generations of women before me could? I felt cheated, bitter and disappointed.

It was amazing to see my baby for the first time, but it wasn’t the moment I’d hoped for. I wanted to hold her and kiss her and keep her to myself for the first few hours of her life. Although the section was quick and professional, it was just not what I imagined for myself.

What followed the birth was far harder than anything I have ever experienced. Having this tiny, demanding and bloody noisy sausage take over your lives is something that you just can’t explain until it happens to you. I felt like a butchered zombie. I couldn’t bare to look at my scar, which I felt represented my failure as a woman. And the tears, dark feelings and misery that descend a few days afterwards is one of womankind’s best kept secrets.

Not very long after I had my gorgeous girl, once I began to made sense of what happened to me, I started to think that I could do it all over again. It was worth it. Surely this is for evolutionary purposes; we forget. Otherwise, no one would ever have another! My baby’s fluffy little head and podgy little tummy and sparkly little eyes… I could go on!

I was told that after my ‘traumatic experience’ (the midwife’s words) I would have the option to have an elective section next time. And for a few weeks, I always thought that was the way I would go. But after watching One Born, I know more than ever I want that moment when I am the first one to hold my newborn baby.

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3 responses

  1. I empathise with you Rachel, my birthing experience (42 weeks as well) was so far removed from my birthing plan. If it makes you feel even a tiny bit better though, I don’t have a picture like yours above. After a ventouse delivery, my daughter was taken straight to NICU. All was well after the first 48 hours and has been ever since. But I often look wistfully at shots of new mums holding their babies for the first time. Don’t be harsh on yourself. Birth is actually a lot tougher than a lot of us are led to believe. Thank god for ventouse, C-Sections and the other gubbins, without them many of us would come away without babies altogether. And this is coming from someone who had planned a home water birth!!!

  2. Hello Rachel! You are not alone – I went over 42 weeks and in the end had an emergency c-section – I had planned a whole hypnobirthing fest! I had post natal illness – mainly trauma, shock – for two years after the birth – I felt totally cut off from my body and very angry – that was the only emotion I could connect with! And like you, it took me a long time before I could look at the scar, let alone touch it – I’m still not very fond of it. Thank you for sharing. X.

  3. Nice post! I’ve had both types of birth and frankly both are hideously overrated. I like having a baby, I quite liked being pregnant (with one, twins was harder), but I’d happily be put in a voluntary coma and woken up with a fresh baby(ies) trussed up like something from a 1980’s Athena poster in a box next to me. If people find pleasure in it then wonderful for them, but most people I meet were just scared and in pain, whichever exit the baby ultimately took :)

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