The Guilty Mammy Blog

Blagging it badly


September 2015

Drugs and the big push.. my birth story..

Most of my girl friends in London (and elsewhere) are friends because we have common interests, well A common interest – drinking white wine. Once I got pregnant I worried what would happen with those friendships, I was concerned about how much white wine they could get through in my absence. Would they ever invite me to drink white wine with them again or would I be forgotten about?!

Well I need not have worried, quite a few of them ended up knocked up in the months after I found myself in the family way. Might be related to all the white wine I guess..

Anyway I digress, I texted one of my wine hag friends the other day who was due to drop around that time. Turns out she had just had the baby and after introducing him she felt the need to mention that she had managed the birth drug free – something she had not managed in her social life before she got pregnant I hasten to add. Anyway this reminded me why I started this blog in the first place. I wanted to talk about giving birth and tell people about my experience. The more time that has passed the less relevant I think my, or anyone’s, birth story is. I had pain relief – I had it all – the gas, the air, the pethidine and in the end an epidural. Baby was 4kilos and was in a bit of trouble at the end and my midwife recommended the epidural, at 7cm dilated she said I had experienced the pain of labour and I might want to have a rest. I had been in early labour for 4 days and this was about 12 hours after my waters broke and I went into active labour. More than 5 days after the pains started baby made her appearance.

I felt bad that I had ‘given in’ and taken the pain relief. I wondered if I should have held out and tried longer and harder to get through it. And almost immediately after coming home from hospital I believed that it hadn’t actually been that bad at all. My husband reminded me constantly how traumatic it had been. Baby’s heart was struggling, my heart rate was worryingly high and baby just wouldn’t come out. I was proud of the fact that I managed, after an hour of pushing, to get her out without any instruments. I lost 1.2 litres of blood straight after the birth. It was traumatic, I am not sure what kind of witch craft keeps telling me it was all ok.

And do you know what my overwhelming thought of my birth is? It’s what on earth made me take the pethidine.. I gave birth to an amazing baby girl that day. I worked bloody hard to get her out of me. And she came out perfect and all I think of when I look back is about the drugs I took. And I feel bad. I feel guilty and I swear that if there is a next time I will do it without.

And then I wonder why I feel bad. My mother had two babies without pain relief and on the 3rd go (me) she had an epidural because it was made available to her. It was all the rage – having a baby without feeling the horrific pain was a good thing. When did it become a bad thing?
My husband may need a hernia operation – no one is encouraging him to try it without anaesthetic. For God’s sake if I went to the beautician to have botox she’d numb the fucking pain of it.. (I haven’t actually, for the record.. yet). You don’t see people coming out of the dentist feeling bad because they chickened out and got an anaesthetic before having their filling done.

I am going to put some of the blame on the unsisterhood.. on getting pregnant these days you’re told by other women from so early on that pain relief is a bad thing. The only people I came across during my pregnancy who seemed relaxed about pain relief were the midwives and thank goodness for them. Once the seed is sewn by the unsisterhood it becomes competitive.. who can take the most amount of pain and have the perfect birth?? Who can bring a person into the world and endure having their vaginal ripped apart without flinching? Who can sit at the NCT reunion and boast about their drug free birth?

Well I’ll tell you who can’t do it – me – I had the pain relief and for some ridiculous reason I’m not proud of my birth story. But the longer I am a mum the more I come to understand how irrelevant my birth story is. It occupied early conversations that passed the time and after that it means nothing. My baby is above average on the cute scale, she is definitely the best baby in baby town and my God she is beyond perfect. And all this in spite of me being totally whacked out of it when she came into the world.

The unsisterhood (NCT)

On the advice of friends we decided the chance of making a whole load of new, local friends who were about to become first time parents seemed too good to pass up. Going to NCT classes seemed ideal. Living in London we have a mixed bunch of friends, none of whom have kids, all of whom are fairly fond of an alcoholic beverage or two. Finding people who didn’t mind sitting inside the pub as opposed to in the smoking area with a pack of 20 on the go seemed prudent.

It’s a bit over a year ago since we started the classes, I can still remember the first meeting with the other hugely pregnant mums and the nervous, trying to make an impression, dads. The classes were fun, in stark contrast to the reality of giving birth, and we thought everyone was just fabulous. Some, of course, seemed more our kind of people than others but everyone seemed great. How amazing to be able to find friends like this and all for about £400 per couple.

It all started off well – whatsapp groups were set up, dates were made for coffee and we all sat around rubbing our bumps and feeling fabulous drinking our decafs. Things fell away a bit while everyone squeezed out their respective babies.. 4 boys and 4 girls. Perfection.

In the early days it seemed like a bond was being formed. But quite quickly someone was upset – I shit you not – because she thought the other mum was having a dig at her for mentioning that she was moving her baby onto size 2 nappies.

In the following months I reached out to the group a few times when baby was sick and I was feeling like I needed a friendly ear. I got nothing back. Soon it was clear that a mini group had formed and they were meeting a lot more frequently and in contact a lot more and I wasn’t a party to that. I’m 34 years old and the only other time I can remember feeling like this is when I was in an all girls secondary school aged 15. Even then it didn’t seem so bad, at least in school you expect that.

I soon realised that arriving to the meet up and announcing how hard I was finding the sleepless nights and the breastfeeding and everything else was a one way street and if they were also feeling like that I had no idea. I felt like they were actually enjoying the fact that I was finding it hard. They knew a whole lot about how I was coping and I knew nothing about their situation. I decided to remove myself from the group meet ups for the sake of my sanity. I had made one friend from the group and we were getting incredibly close. After a hiatus from the meet ups we made the effort to get things going again, the babies seemed to love the chance to taste some new toys and it was a shame for them not to have their playgroup. It was as bad as ever to the point where the others just stopped showing up, without even bothering to tell us.

I feel extremely lucky to have made a friend in the last year. I know we’ll be friends for a very long time but I am still struggling to get my head around what happened to the rest of the group. Why, as women, do we find it so hard to support each other? Why do we feel the need to compete with each other? Why do we have to be fucking assholes all the time? The first year of motherhood is hard. I assume the second and subsequent years are fairly tricky too. It would have been so much easier if I could have been honest with these women and we could have helped each other through it.

My friend told me she once sat in a local coffee shop holding her newborn baby, facing the wall with her back to the rest of the coffee shop and sobbed. Feeling the most alone she ever had. And you know what is the shocking thing? I know some of those women would have revelled in the knowledge that that had happened.

Thankfully as time as passed quite a few of my London friends have popped out sprogs and more are on the way. They must have seen how easy it was for me and decided to follow suit. I hope when they feel sad they’ll know that it’s ok and that no one is expected to be ok after having their vaginal ripped open and their nipples sucked raw.

Holidays – are they actually worth it?

Been on the down low for a few weeks.. and it’s all change here.

Teeth? She has a gob full of them and they kindly all arrived while we were on holiday.. she went for one to 5 in the space of two weeks and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. To be fair she was great during the day but getting her to bed at night has been nothing short of misery. I’m not sure if it was teeth or the new environment or the double whammy but she point blank refused to go to bed every night for over a week.. it got back to normal but her sleep through the night is gone to shite since.

To add to our woes after a fortnight with the grandparents we headed for a family holiday in Spain which threw another spanner in the works. Heat, teeth and a renewed fondness for midnight snacks (and 4am and 6am) we seem to be back at square one with regard the night feeds. We got back a tiny bit of normality when we got home but she has been waking twice a night since – once for a cuddle or a song or a back rub and another for a feed. And it seems that after the exhaustion of holidays neither Mammy or Daddy has the will to fight her on this one. It’s the path of least resistance to get her back to sleep. Will she ever grow out of it or can someone please tell me how to get her sleeping through again? Answers on a postcard please.

I swore when we got home I’d never go on holiday again.. not until she is old enough to put herself to bed anyway. It’s not like holidays are any fun with a baby anyway.. I mean there is the fun of playing with them in the pool and on the beach and all that but you can’t go out for lunch because they sleep at lunchtime and you can’t go out for dinner because they are in bed. Lying in the sun is a distant memory because you’re so shit scared of getting them burnt. So you come back a pale, exhausted shadow of your former self. The only addition is the scars of the mosquito bites that are magnified to epic proportions against the backdrop of your pasty shins and ankles.


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