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.