so, where did i get to. oh yes, we had arrived at a near-empty labour ward and our journey to parenthood was about to begin. stress levels – increasing
so there we were, a pregnant wife, a mother-in-law and a relatively calm soon-to-be dad, all in a simple nhs labour ward room, arriving at about 18:30 and with only one other room in the ward occupied. S mentioned the fact that she wanted to labour in the room with the birthing pool, so once the midwife came to say hello, we requested to be moved to the room with the birthing pool and then moved!
the room with the birthing pool is a special room in the labour ward for a number of reasons:
- it has a birthing pool
- it is twice the size of all other rooms
- it has lots of soft-playesque foam seats and sofas
- it is decorated with photographs taken by my ex-girlfriend who had a photography business
as you can imagine, three of those reasons make this room the best room you could possibly have in the labour ward. one of the reasons made me seriously consider bringing the tin of emulsion i had just used to put the finishing touches on the bedroom ceiling in order to permanently cover the near naked photographs of my ex-girlfriend so my newborn baby didn’t have to face the world with them on the wall. but i didn’t and to be honest it is only in retrospect that i even consider it, because there were more important things to worry about, like my labouring fiancee.
so S was on the entonox like a bat out of hell and we awaited for the first check of the old cervix to see how far along we all were. when the check came i personally was expecting to hear “S is 4 cm.” what i didn’t expect to hear was “S, you’re only 0.5cm gone so far, so you need to wait until you are at least 4cm until you can go in the birth pool”
we were in for a long wait.
beans, plums, oranges and melons
S and i went to our ante-natal classes over a 6 week period in the run up to the birth and only missed one. the bags were prepared with everything S and baby were to need. the iphone was uploaded with over 1000 songs on S’s birthing playlist. i had a packed lunch. S had isotonic drinks a-plenty.
so S stripped off into her labouring gear, we put on the tunes and as far as was possible we relaxed.
when faced with long periods of time with not much happening, you become acutely aware of your surroundings and with the goings on outside the birthing room. i noticed a mobile hanging to one side of S’s bed with circles of increasing diameter from half a centimetre up to 10 centimetres. a bean, then a blueberry, then a grape……then a plum, then an apricot……..then an orange, then a grapefruit and finally a melon. yes, it was a visual representation of how dilated a womans cervix is and i decided it was a fun game to see what i could think of the same size as the circles.
stress levels – low to moderate
six hours later
so S had been in the labour ward for six hours, it was past midnight and the labour had been progressing well. S was doing amazingly well, i hadn’t murdered my mother-in-law and i’d had a couple of cups of tea.
in other news, we had heard ladies screams and babies cries. the empty labour ward was now full and the staff were getting stretched. not as much as the women in labour mind, but stretched in another way. this had two effects: 1) it meant that the tea service suffered and 2) it meant that S was getting visibly frustrated – she wanted her baby now, it was past midnight and she had been at it for 12 hours.
however, there was a good bit of news – S was now sufficiently dilated to use the birthing pool and was now in active labour.
no running, no petting, no bombing, no dumping
so we turned the taps on and got S stripped off and helped her step carefully into the birth pool. as i had been a lifeguard at the age of 16, i got my whistle out and armed myself with the thermometer. i handed the mother-in-law the more glamorous prop – the net – in case S had a poo.
needless to say, S enjoyed her time in the pool and did seem to provide great pain relief and relaxation. however with these benefits comes a side effect – the labour slowed right down.
S spent a couple of hours in the pool, and at about half past 2 – three o’clock, got out of the pool again. she was in pain. she needed something a bit stronger than warm water and laughing gas. a nurse was sent for some morphine – S needed some rest.
smack my bitch up – smack my bitch up
as i mentioned, we had over 1000 songs on the birthing playlist from our eclectic collection of show-tunes, metal, nu-metal, punk, rock, pop, dance and disco. however, when S was getting her good dose of morphine, we didn’t have the appropriate accompanying song of “smack my bitch up” by the prodigy. we did however have salt n’ pepa “push it” and johnny cash “ring of fire” so comedy could wait for later!
the two major side effects of the morphine were that S’s already slowed down labour, slowed down even further and S was able to kind of get some disturbed rest. this meant that the mother-in-law and i were able to take split shifts of having 20 winks on the soft-playesque sofa.
stress levels – medium
poppin’ the balloon – hating television
six o’clock on the morning of the 9th august 2011 came. S had been labouring the best part of 18 hours and the midwives and doctor decided that the time had come to break her waters. this was the first traumatic stage of childbirth.
what can only be described as a massive great knitting needle was getting inserted in S’s lady-garden as they went to burst the amniotic sac. all this sounds quite clinical, but i had to make my excuses. i was going to be sick.
if television teaches us anything, it is that after about 2 mins of grunting and screaming and pushing a beautiful baby is born. television is a bloody liar. the reality of the situation is that there is blood and there is amniotic fluid and it’s all a bit, well, minging. but nothing prepared me for my first bit of reality – amniotic fluid mixed with a bit of blood.
the only way i can describe it is this – have you ever seen ghostbusters 2? can you remember the river of pink slime that harbours pure liquid evil that flows below new york city? that there is amniotic fluid post balloon popping. and it all oozes onto the nappy mat they put on the bed. that’s why i was sick. this shit just got real.