Despite the blood and guts, this is a happy story, with a happy ending. In the weeks afterwards I was very fond of saying that mothers to be should have warrior training (non-violent yoga style) instead of what passes for birth education in my neck of the woods. For the most part, it's an excerpt from a diary entry written about a week after.
The day before I was scheduled to go to the hospital for the 41 week, let's talk about induction appointment, my mum took me shopping. The whole idea that being on my feet and walking around might get things moving. So we went to Dimmys in Coburg and some opshops. Mum smoked in the car, which she hadn't all pregnancy and we ate bad sweets, probably the cheap and nasty liquorice allsorts. It was quite hot for April.
I went into labour at about six in the morning. I was sleeping alone, G was on the couch due to my snoring. The pains woke me up and were coming every six minutes. I went outside and walked around the garden. Everything was clear and liquid. I woke G and told him. At about ten I rang the hospital but because my waters hadn't broken they advised me not to come in yet. I spent the day at home, walking round the garden in the autumn sunshine or on the couch. I played Pass In Time by Beth Orton a lot.
The day before Grace was born. I was big. I wish we'd taken more photos and not hiding behind the corn.
When we got to hospital, we were sent straight upstairs because of the special clinic I had been in. (If I'd have known this, I might have gone a little earlier) When the midwife examined me, I was 5 cm dilated and this was it. No going home. Sent G off to ring Mum, gave him the wrong number, found the right number. G came back and we settled in. I was managing the contractions by changing positions and breathing. I got a mat on the floor and asked G to sit where I could lean on him.
Mum arrived and things got more full on. I started using the gas and um, vocalising. Mum was really, really great and at the change of shift we got a new midwife, Nicky who was also excellent. G didn't get really involved and was pretty tired - he had been looking after me all day. The room was taking on a women's business feel. In retrospect, I could have asked someone at the beginning to give him jobs to do and help him get into the rhythm. But as it was, it was better he waited in the lounge, popping in and out.
I had a shot of pethodine which was great with the gas. It all became very intense and vocalising gave way to plain old yelling. This was really great in a way but might have been a bit disturbing if you were next door. I didn't care. Later, as my waters hadn't broken and things were stalling, the doctor broke them with what looked like a crochet hook and showed me a little bit of black hair. Around this time, I got rather tired of it all and wanted to stop and not have a baby anymore. Then I chucked. That felt great. Really. I think I needed to be empty. My body had no energy to waste on digestion.
I think I was polite to my attendants and spent time chatting with them in between contractions. I can't really remember the transition but then all of a sudden it was time to push. No more gas and no more yelling. The first part of pushing was really scary and painful. I spent time on my knees on the bed and towards the end on a birthing stool, straining like I was doing a big crap.The second midwife held a mirror under me as her head was starting to crown. They moved me back onto the bed, sitting with the soles of my feet together. It looked like I was going to tear bigtime, so the midwife made a little snip. This was the point of pushing right past the fear and the midwives and my mum coached me through it. Despite the pain, it was actually quite exhilarating. Elemental.
The moment of giving birth to Grace's head hurt like f*ck and was fantastic all at the same time. Then she slithered out, pink and screaming. It felt, great, ecstatic, beautiful. One of those moments of unity with the universe. She was given to me right away, all covered in gunk but wide awake and present. It was pure joy to hold her skin to skin, on the outside of my body. Mum went to get Gerard and he was smitten from the first moment.
The placenta didn't deliver and there was talk of theatre. G and Grace spent some time in another room and I overdosed on the gas while the doctor removed it manually and stitched me up. I became quite disinhibited and started regaling the nurse with some of my stories from my dance party days. It was a wild old time. Grace and G came back. Grace had her first feed and we all hung out. Mum and G went home for some sleep at about six. Someone held Grace while I went to have a shower. I was enjoying the hot water and began to feel faint. The next thing I remember was the nurses laughing as they tried to get to me. I was put in a wheel chair and taken back to bed. At least my hair was clean. Definitely too much gas.
Grace wrapped in a blanket Mum made. One of those hospital photographer pics. I love the expression.
The next day on the ward, I lie in bed and watch my daughter in awe. So beautiful, so precious. Falling in love, holding her in my arms with her head in my neck and feeling the softness of her skin, time melting. Lots of vistors and celebration. Everyone says she is a beautiful baby and I am swelled with pride. People say that some babies are ugly, but I haven't seen one yet.
So my little baby is two now. And in a quick trick of time, no longer a baby. She runs, has lots of words in a vocabulary that increases daily and fumes with rage when she can't get her point across. She loves honky tonk music and rock and roll. Everyday is an adventure. She wants to do everything herself but still comes for a cuddle when things go amiss. We're having a family lunch (with cake and grilled corn, among other things) tomorrrow when she can unwrap even more presents and run from person to person. Shouting, jumping, dancing and hopefully some scrunchie smiles.
Happy Birthday Grace.