It has been over five months since Bella was born. I am not going to be a birth-bore and go on and on about the labour, but it is the beginning of our story. It was all in all a very positive experience and compared to some other stories I have heard I consider myself lucky. But the memories of THAT pain still linger, a fading residue round the edges of my consciousness. They say at some point you forget it all; nature’s way of ensuring we continue to procreate. I haven’t yet.
Nothing you read or get told can prepare you for the birth. The only way to describe it is feral. Bella was a surprise breech and we only found out she was the wrong way round when I was 8cm dilated and swearing like a ship-wrecked sailor. The more dilated I got was in direct relationship to the number of c-bombs dropped. I was not composed or graceful in labour, I basically turned into Ray Winstone.
My waters broke at home and it was less movie scene gush, more long leak. For the first five minutes I thought I might just be peeing myself, this being an all too common pregnancy occurrence. But ten minutes later it was clear something was amiss. So we went into hospital, only to be sent home after being told it might take a day or so to kick in. No. One episode of Made in Chelsea later (guilty) I was rollicking round the flat biting on the furniture and dropping class-A swear words like they were HOT. So back to the hospital we went, contracting in the back of an Uber whilst shocking the driver with my unladylike language.
I didn’t know whether or not I would want drugs before I went into labour, but by the time we got back to hospital I was clear – yes please, all of them, now please. Gas and air, although I am sure fun for a night out, did not touch the sides. I was planning to stay in the birthing suite, which sounded like somewhere you might go for a nice week away, with a double bed, spa music and a pool. But the need for immediate relief and the fact that there was an arse where a head should be meant I waddled like a writhing John Wayne downstairs to the labour ward. There we waited for the man with the drugs. His aggressively long epidural needle gave Phil what my mum would call a “turn”. He went green. The midwives then hastily constructed “Phil’s corner” next to my bed, with a crash mat in case he fainted, a blanket, glass of icy water and a cold compress to mop his brow. I said nothing.
Because she was bum-down, we had to decide whether to go for a C-section or vaginal delivery. I started to get fearful. Labour is such an all-encompassing experience and I was so IN it that I wasn’t really feeling any emotions beyond “get it out” and this was the first time I felt properly scared. If we opted for a C-section Phil would not be allowed in because there was no room in the theatre for him to faint. At this point we both started to cry.
Luckily I then hit 10cm and the decision was made for us. Breech vaginal deliveries are apparently a bit unusual, so as I got ready to push, a gaggle of junior doctors filed into my room to have a butchers at the specimen in action. Despite being barely clothed and on all fours, being British I of course attempted polite conversation whilst ten complete strangers stared at my vagina. “This is Lindsey”…”Hi guys, how are you? Going anywhere nice on your holidays?” Phil stayed at the top of the bed at all times, for which I am grateful. Some things cannot be unseen. My friend’s husband described being at the business end as akin to watching his favourite pub burn down.
The pushing bit only took about twenty minutes and then Bella arrived into this world, bum first whilst simultaneously pooing and pissing (that’s my gal.) We deliberately didn’t know what flavour we were having so the first order of business was “it’s a girl!” Then she was deposited in my arms and immediately mewled her way towards my breast, fully confident in what she was doing even if I wasn’t. She was born with a full on mullet, looking every inch the late 1980s tennis player. I didn’t expect to look down and see a (very) young Andre Agassi sucking at my nip.
That first skin to skin was the most amazing moment of my life so far…beyond knackered, covered in every bodily fluid imaginable, high on ALL of the drugs and just staring, staring at this tiny creature that we had made. And so at 10.15am on the 7th of November, our story began….