So, was it as bad as I thought it would be? Yes with a capital Y. Oh the pain! Dear Diary, here is my Labour story:
It lasted 15 hours. Need I say more? Probably not but I will. I had a plan (kind of) which involved not having an epidural but after ten and a half hours of utter agony and a cervix that had dilated only 6cm (of the 10cm dilation required to begin pushing) I asked myself “what the shit am I trying to prove here?” and succumbed to the epidural. Contextually, it wasn’t painful. This could be relative to the preceding ten and a half hours of pain. Who knows? Anyway, much to the disgust of naturalists, tree-huggers and hemp-wearers, I had the epidural and the relief was almost instantaneous. Except in my right ass-cheek, which proceeded to contract on its own until the anaesthetist came and adjusted the tube position. Apparently one’s ass does contract during labour. Who knew? Then before I knew it, the epidural had worn off, I had dilated the remaining 4cm and it was time to PUSH. The timing was perfect as I was able to feel my contractions and push through them so that my beautiful baby girl could be delivered. Pushing was hard work (euphemism of the century) but a big relief. Imagine really needing to poo but having to hold it. Except this ‘poo’ was gargantuan and the relief attained through pushing was euphoric. The woman in the suite next to me had been bellowing for what seemed like hours as she went through what I was just about to begin and I remember hearing the Amazonian yell of “get him out of me” just as I was about to start pushing. I was afraid. It took twenty five minutes to deliver Amelia Violet Zanin into the world and she is perfect. Just perfect. I attained a second degree tear in the process and the memory of lying flat on my back with my legs stirruped in the air as the midwife stitched my ‘gooch’ will always be poignant. It was a culminating moment that summated the entire day’s humiliation and the horrifying discomfort of being prodded and poked in private places that are meant to remain secret. All in a day’s work. As I was holding my beautiful baby girl, the delivery of the placenta was taking place and I could not contain my curiosity. I craned my head over my baby in time to see a giant mass of bloody, meaty organ erupting from my vag along with some smaller kidney-like pieces and masses of blood. I have no idea how people eat that groseness.
The question that I have been asked the most is “what do contractions feel like?” and I have no way of explaining the magnanimous pain that is a contraction. The best I can do is describe the feeling as a period pain but magnified by a million and thus utterly excruciating. Vague … I know. But the best I can do. I never thought that I would say what I am going to say as I champion the right of women to choose the way on which they want to birth their children but giving natural birth somehow feels like I have gone through a rite of passage into motherhood. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. As I was living through the contractions, I was not violent or aggressive but did repeatedly tell my amazing husband, who played the invaluable role of birth-coach throughout, that it was the worst day of my life. It’s amazing to look back and think that the “worst day” turned into the best day of my life: birth is truly miraculous. What a privilege.