Labour of Love


Dear Genevieve,

The night that you were born, or rather early the next morning when I was all alone in my hospital room and couldn’t sleep, I wrote about your labour. I didn’t want to forget anything so it was possibly a little more for me than it was for you. Therefore, I thought I’d write you another version. The cliff notes version. Which is still kind of long. Brevity is not exactly my strong point. So here it is…

Your labour was:
7 hours long! Which was totally shorter than I expected. I don’t count the going into hospital on Sunday night to have tape inserted because it did diddly squat for me. I figure the labour actually started at 9am (when they broke my water and inserted the Sintocinon drip – with difficulty) and ended at 4:01pm (after 2 hours of pushing) when you were born. And I managed it with either my incredibly intuitive and talented body or perhaps that was with the blessing of my fairy midwife because Debbie told me first thing in the morning that my baby had to be born by 4pm because that was when her shift finished and damn if you weren’t born not 60 seconds after that!

With regards to intervention:
I didn’t have any. At all. So I’d have to say that I am actually a little bit proud of myself. I’d also have to be honest and say that the no drugs thing was a little more by accident than by design but that’s not the point. I wanted to go as long as I could without pain relief but I was fully prepared to ask for some if necessary. By the time I was ready to ask for it though, I was also ready to push. So no epidural for me. And thankfully, no intervention on the OB’s part either.

What came as a surprise:
The pushing. When I started pushing, the midwife made the comment that I’d already finished the hard part and the pushing was the easy bit. My first thought was “what planet do you live on ?” but you know what, initially she was right. As soon as I was allowed to push, I didn’t feel the contractions as severely and it got a little easier. Then of course I got further into the pushing and it got harder again.

And what I’d never realized before was that “pushing” would entail taking a deep breath, holding it and bearing down like I was doing a number 2…three times per contraction. Rapidly expelling a breath and inhaling again only to hold and push made up a good part of the exhaustion/pain/”over it” factor. And had me turning purple apparently.

The 2 HOURS of pushing. So I know I don’t have much right to complain because I had it a lot better than many other women but when I got to the pushing stage, I must admit, I thought it would be a lot shorter than 2 hours. Maybe that was an unreasonable expectation but I still thought I’d be done with that part quicker than I was. So it was probably a good thing that I was too tired to look at the clock.

The sounds. In the last half an hour before pushing, when the contractions were really bad, I was no longer able to breathe through them and started moaning through them instead. It wasn’t voluntary as such, it just felt necessary. This was nothing compared to the pushing sounds though. When you are holding your breath and pushing really hard, it’s really easy to get tired and allow little bits of air escape. When they go past your vocal chords, you get these weird guttural sounds which usually got me told off for pushing through my throat not out my bottom!

The aftermath. For some reason I figured that after I’d done the hard yards and delivered the baby, I would more or less be left alone. And in a way, I was because they whisked you off to special care with your father in tow and other women in labour required the presence of all the midwives on the floor. I was literally left alone for quite a long time after your birth but every time the staff did come back into the suite it was to check under the covers to see how much I was bleeding, to give me an injection to make me bleed a little less or to press hard on my stomach to make me bleed a little more. And that whole pressing on the stomach thing happened throughout the week as well so they could check on my uterus which was, I have to say, less fun than having to roll over and drop my daks so they could check my stitches.

What wasn’t a surprise:
Modesty went out the window. I had been told by more than one person that you get to the point where you just don’t care so it didn’t come as a shock but it was something I noticed. Like when I sat on the floor of the shower, naked, as midwives came and went. Or like when I had my thighs splayed wide open to push when they came to introduce the afternoon shift midwives to me and my first thought was go away – I’m busy here.

There’s no such thing as personal space. You kind of expect that when you’re about to push a whole person out your hoo-ha, professionals might need to get their hands down there. Which they do. Eventually with a frequency that might be somewhat perturbing if you weren’t so utterly occupied and exhausted and wishing it was all going to be over quickly. First it was the tape, then it was the two attempts at breaking my water through to the monitors they placed on your head and then the “help” in stretching me for your skull. I’m just thankful I never had to watch it.

Battle wounds:
The tear. I was a little worried about this prospect before the labour because I had heard some horror stories. I believe I got off lightly though. I had a second degree tear but it must have been relatively small because I only ended up with “two long stitches”. Apparently I bled a little like a stuck pig during the labour however because Sparky ended up on the floor. Almost passed out. He wasn’t able to avoid the business end during the pushing stage and whilst he coped with everything else he saw in those 2 hours, the sight of all the blood had him feeling faint as sight and sound started to fade away.

The haemorrhoids. Seriously, these sucked and nobody warned me about them! I expected discomfort after giving birth because I’d passed the equivalent of a melon out my clacker but I didn’t expect the feeling that I’d pushed a golf ball out my butt – which was still there. Every time I took a step I felt them jolt and pull and sitting down on hard surfaces was extremely uncomfortable. I’d walk and sit very gingerly in hospital and sometimes I’d need to lie down instead or perch on the edge of something to even be vaguely comfortable.

The swelling.
No one warned me about this either. One minute I was happily pregnant and round and the next minute, I looked in the mirror and sheesh! – I had bingo wings, more chins than I knew what to do with, a muffin top and a case of cankles in training. I had circles under my eyes and several places where I had red patches because I had actually burst the blood vessels under my skin. Pregnant women are supposed to look like they’re “glowing” and I thought that women who had just given birth were supposed to look…well…less puffy.

The loss of my pelvic floor. I always used to tease one of my cousins because she could never sit through a movie at the cinema without getting up at some point to go to the toilet. I kind of figured – how could you not hold it for an hour and a half!?! Now I know. In hospital, you are never far from a bathroom so it wasn’t so much of an issue but since “coming home”, I have been out a couple of times and very quickly realized that I need to go to the toilet. Like RIGHT NOW. As in I’m not sure I could walk the 100 meters to the nearest amenities without actually eliminating my need for them in the first place. On more than one occasion I have desperately wanted to “hold myself” like a little kid to ward off impending disaster. I figured that might look slightly inappropriate however so I usually just stand very still and cross my legs tightly for a long moment instead. And thank God I’m still wearing maternity pads instead of normal ones!

The aches. I remember what my body felt like the day after I had participated in my first pole dancing lesson. Now my arms didn’t feel quite that bad but since I had been pushing you out for two hours and subsequently pulling my thighs towards me for two hours, my arms were pretty damned tired by the end of it. And then over the following days i had to get used to holding you while you fed which added further stress and tension to my shoulders. They spend a lot of time helping you to get a good latch in hospital but not so much on correcting the holds so of course over the next couple of days, changing, showering and holding you through every feed were occasionally remarkably uncomfortable!

And that my dear, was your labour. Then you were there, all 3.705 kilos of you in your 51cm body with your 36cm head. Which according to your dad was decidedly cone shaped when you came out but that wore off quite quickly because I never saw it. I think I was at the wrong angle to see it when you were born and then they whisked you off to the special care nursery and I didn’t see you again for a couple of hours. I filled in the time however by calling family and friends and letting them know that you had arrived.

Alles Liebe,



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