Scary stories from a lovely place
Since the birth of Silas I have been surprised by requests to record the birth story here in the Jozi blog. I always thought that birth would be pretty gross, and now I have experienced it I can concur with my assumption, it is nasty. This is why I’m surprised that people want the details. But I will acquiesce! So here is part 1: Birth is a breeze, rated G for general exhibition.
As I wrote on the 19th of May I had a ‘bloody show’ which my overly calm midwife informed me probably meant that labour was only a few days away. Uncharacteristically she overreacted and I expectantly awaited any more signs of labour for that entire week. When it didn’t happen I stepped up my use of the stereotypical things that are supposed to bring on labour; I cooked spicy curry, played lots of tennis and walked everywhere, drank cup after cup of gross raspberry leaf tea and to Stephen’s delight there was also more sex. But none of it worked in the instant that I wanted it to. I began to think that maybe my body didn’t know how to do labour and I wouldn’t actually enter that strange and scary state.
On Saturday the 29th May Stephen and I had a busy day planned. Our list of stuff to do included; sleeping in, breakfast with Vicky in Melville, appointment with the midwife, opening of the refurbished Hotel Yeoville, watching the final of the rugby at the Bohemian pub with Trevor and Levy and going to see Food Inc at the movies. It was a good day. We were energetic and loving life. I even wrote a blog post when I got home just before midnight.
After such an exciting day, the onset of labour was far from my mind, I had after all resigned myself to another couple of weeks of pregnancy. But at 3am I woke up feeling weird. I thought it was wind and went to the toilet multiple times. It hurt. At about 330 I got up because I couldn’t manage the pain lying in bed and I didn’t want to wake Stephen. I was having regular and quick contractions, but I wasn’t convinced it was the real thing. I wanted to make sure this was definitely labour before I called in the reinforcements.
The contractions continued and varied from every 7 minutes down to 3 minutes. It wasn’t too bad though. I ate some vegemite toast. I read some articles about how Christians are too busy. I plagarised this idea and wrote my blog post for the day. I paced the hallway and pushed against the wall for the short, intermittent pains, still not convinced this was it.
I figured at 06h00 it was time to wake Stephen. I still didn’t know if it was the time but I was getting bored and wanted some company. I made him coffee. He hadn’t even noticed the absence of my warm body in the bed beside him, or heard my pacing. We went for a walk to Kingston Frost Park to enjoy the sunrise. I have always wanted to do that. We walked home via the streets of Brixton because Stephen wanted to get some phone numbers of houses for sale. The pains were still regular and painful, but fast, not long.
We had breakfast. I finished packing my stuff. I was pretty convinced by now we would be heading to the clinic soon. I told Stephen to pack some clothes. He unwillingly did. At 08h00 I decided to phone the midwife. I wanted to leave it late so that I didn’t wake her. The conversation went like this; “Hi Ntombi, this is Kim, how are you? (wanting to sound calm). Did I wake you?”
“Hi Kim, no I was awake.”
“So I’ve been having contractions for about 5 hours.”
“How many in ten minutes?”
(Racking my brain to do the maths) “um, about 2 or 3.”
“Okay, I will phone ahead to the clinic to tell them you’re coming. Stay at home until you can bear the pain no longer and then go. I’m just going to the gym now, so you won’t be able to contact me for the next hour, but don’t worry the baby won’t be born in that time” (Silas was born 2 hours later).
(I shouldn’t have been surprised by her calm attitude) “ok no worries.”
We still thought we would be at home for a while. Stephen went to church to drop off the milk I had forgotten to take during the week. While he was gone the pain became much more intense. It was hard to manage it with my pacing and wall pushing. When Stephen got back we decided it was time to go. We left home at 09h00. I was struggling.
Usually I would drive to Genesis Clinic, Zoo Lake, Rosebank, Parktown North along Emmarentia Ave because it’s lovely going past the golf course. But today I knew I needed something to buoy my spirits for the car ride. I asked Stephen to drive along Jan Smuts so we could go past the wonderful Westcliff Hotel. My dreams of giving birth there weren’t realised unfortunately.
In the car I was leaving sweaty handprints Titanic-style on the window as I tried to deal with the pain. It hurt. When we arrived at Genesis Clinic Stephen went ahead of me to check that they had space for me. I went inside and Lerato, the receptionist showed me my room. She made sure to stay out of my way. I went in and continued pacing. Stephen wasn’t coming. I didn’t know what the problem was. It was 09h15.
Then Gail, a staff midwife came in pushing a contraption and said “you’re a very naughty girl for not booking in!” Multiple responses went through my head. I knew I had booked in at about 20 weeks as I was supposed to. I also knew that bureaucracy is not my friend at the best of times. I was mad that she called me a girl and not a woman, and I didn’t appreciate her condescending attitude while I was having back to back contractions. I politely but firmly and a little desperately informed her that I most certainly had booked in. She hooked me up to the contraption to measure the contractions and hear the baby’s heartbeat. I didn’t care. It hurt.
At this stage Stephen came in, he had left Lerato and Gail to sort out my file. I told him to get the machine off me. He wouldn’t. Gail came back with my file (it was in the June section, and I had arrived on the 30th May). She took the contraption off me (hooray) and let me continue to pace around wildly. It fricking hurt.
Thus ends part 1: birth is a breeze. In part 2 you will meet more lovely characters, including the doula named Ingeborg with her scented candles, my fashionably late midwife and of course more of stoic and wonderful Stephen. There will also be more gore in part 2 as the birth went quickly from being a breeze, to something much worse, like a gail force wind perhaps.