Scary stories from a lovely place
Silas x2 is due to make his or her appearance in just over 3 months. Now that I have a burgeoning belly I am much more aware of the little person. And of course the wonderfully bizarre feeling of the baby moving inside my stomach is with me pretty constantly now.
Today I contacted a friend to say hi. I knew the birth of her firstborn son was imminent. She replied – “sometime today. At hospital now”. I forgave her brusqueness, wondering how she had time to be smsing me. Throughout the day I have been thinking of her and hoping that she was doing okay through the madness of labour.
Childbirth is a strange thing to look forward to. It is exciting – because it’s the precursor to meeting your baby, this person that you have thought about for 9 months and probably more. But it’s also scary and daunting – because even if you’ve never experienced it everyone knows that labour is supposed to be horribly painful, requiring huge reserves of emotional and physical strength and courage. And it is horribly painful. It’s weird to look forward to pain. No one looks forward to being run over by a car or hit in the head with a cricket ball, but such incidences are usually unexpected anyway. Perhaps if labour and childbirth didn’t have such bad reputations expectant mothers could feel more positive about childbirth. But, no matter how positive an experience, it is still painful.
In the lead up to Silas’ birth I/we made the decision to pursue natural childbirth and not use drugs (I say we, but really Stephen would have gone along with whatever I had concluded). We didn’t discuss much about potential unnatural pain relief with Ntombi our midwife. She said that she would administer it, except for an epidural, that had to be done by an anaesthetist. Silas was born at Genesis Clinic, a natural birthing centre that is heavy on midwives, incense, breastfeeding and waterbirths but not too keen on medical intervention (though they have all the necessary stuff in case). I knew that Ntombi and the clinic would honour my wishes to have a natural delivery, because it’s what they were all about too. It’s good to be on the same page as your health care provider, rather than tussling to and fro.
After Silas was born Stephen asked me if I had wanted to ask for pain relief at anytime during the labour. In all honesty, it didn’t occur to me. If you have read Silas’ birth story you’ll know that I didn’t have much time. By the time we arrived at the clinic I was pretty focussed on getting through each contraction with sheer will and then it all happened so quickly. The best thing for pain relief was the bath. I don’t know how I would have done it out of the water.
This time I want to do it the same way. We will, Home Affairs willing, be in Australia not South Africa for the birth, so unfortunately I can’t deliver Silas x2 at Genesis Clinic. I am looking forward to the (free!) public system in Australia – and I hope I can have another water birth. I do want to do it again without drugs.
I am not, however, feeling good about the potential for birth injury – a.k.a perineal tearing. Last time it was second degree. Bad. I wanted all the drugs in the world to take that post-delivery pain away. If I were having the baby here and paying for it, thus able to dictate how it happened, I would seriously consider a caesarean. I know that the recovery from those can be hard too, but I’ve seen people manage it pretty well, and they are still intact in other bodily areas. If Silas x2 causes similar damage (I am predicting this will happen) I will seriously consider a caeasrean for any future babies.
I used to hate it when people said that labour is fine because it’s good pain. But it’s true. It’s useful pain, purposeful pain. It’s not due to an injury or neglect or violence. It’s the pain of producing a cute baby. People also say stupid things like ‘when I saw how beautiful my baby was I forgot all the pain’. That’s nonsense. You don’t forget an ordeal like labour. But it’s true that it is worth it.