Funny enough, either my brain or (more likely) my hormones have suddenly settled down to the idea of giving birth. I’ve been through phases of being really, really scared – I’m not good with pain, I never have been. But my friend, Ben, helped, when he pointed out that they CAN take the pain away, if you beg them to. There are reasons for not letting them, but at the end of the day, if you can’t cope, they can and they will. That helped.
Then I started thinking about my mum. One of the things that has gradually dawned on me, over the last few years, is that I am the same shape as my mum. I am. I look at myself in the mirror, without the clothes to disguise the shape, and I look like her. I can diet till the cows come home, but I have to acknowledge that what I’m fighting is genetic. That doesn’t mean I should quit trying, but when I’m busy beating myself up over being unable to hold the weight off, it’s worth remembering that it’s hard to fight what’s integral to your make up.
Bearing that thought in mind, given that I’ve inherited her overall shape, including being overweight without having any serious associated health problems, including her Good Child-bearing Hips, and presumably including half a dozen other bits and pieces, there’s no reason to assume that I will find giving birth noticeably harder than she did – and she sailed through it.
When Ruth was born
Apparently she was in “gentle labour” all day. She doesn’t remember having contractions as such, more spasms of back-pain (though we’re going back thirty years, and my mum doesn’t do remembering details). At tea-time she went to the hospital, and by mid-evening everything seemed to have gone quiet. They sent my dad home, she went to sleep, and at 2am she woke up pushing. Now, my understanding is that pushing comes AFTER the worst bit, and she’d slept through that. She rang the buzzer, got some very crabby midwives upset, because she was still on the labour ward, not the delivery ward, and was whisked down a corridor in short order. Two pushes and a questionable episiotomy later (it was the seventies, and I think they were done pretty much as a matter of course – my mum’s perception was that it was their reaction to feeling that they weren’t in control of the delivery), and there I was.
That sounds much better than my friend Lynn’s 36 hour labour, including two sleepless nights. Assuming that the midwifery care is better now (they hardly ever do episiotomies, these days, and it says on my birth plan that they’re not allowed to shout at me…), Mum’s way sounds OK.
When Clare was born
When my little sister was born it was even faster. Mum woke up at three or four in the morning having contractions. She rang the midwife, who came round, and said “Let’s not go in just yet – shall we have a cup of tea?”. At six they went to the hospital, and at a little after eight, Clare was born. And incidentally, during that process, the midwife commented that there was really no excuse for them having cut her the first time, since Clare was 9lbs, and presented no particular problems – I was about 7 and a half, I think.
So, on balance, if I can do giving birth the way my mum did, I could do a lot worse.
I have a huge sense of imminence, now. As in, pretty much every day, I wonder if today’s the day. I don’t have a lot to go on, of course, but I remember when Lynn’s bump dropped the way mine has in the last week, Josh was born within a few days. But it could still be weeks away, couldn’t it?
We don’t live life with this level of uncertainty in the 21st Century. It’s a little disconcerting. I’ve invited my Aunty for tea, on Friday, but there’s no way of telling if we’ll be here or not…