Acrobat

We moved to a different room and a mobile scanner was wheeled in, and all the while I was mouthing to Willy Wonka, in a Les Dawson-style whisper “She isn’t, she won’t be, she’s not.” She was.

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1525295_10152137411275428_1544226014_nDid I have any warning? None. Or did I? My third pregnancy had gone along much like BUB.1 and .2’s, uncomfortable but uneventful, plenty of galloping heartbeats, searing heartburn and reassuring scans.

And when she arrived she was a dream come true. A pink, bawling cherry on our cake. She just came in a different way than I expected. My two very swift previous births had been initiated by my waters breaking just like in the films. So on this day last year, when my waters broke at midday, I knew the course of events.

Until she pooed. I was obliged to show the midwife my baby’s very first poo (meconium), upon which she leapt up and said she needed to check something as it looked like the baby might be bottom down. How clever, I thought, to be able to “read foetus poo”, like a palm reader, but she’d got it wrong of course. All of my external examinations had shown bum up, head down, including the one two days previously, at my 40th week check.

We moved to a different room and a mobile scanner was wheeled in, and all the while I was mouthing to Willy Wonka, in a Les Dawson-style whisper “She isn’t, she won’t be, she’s not.”

She was.

I knew immediately that would mean a C-section, so I asked out loud and yes, it would be a C-section. They prefer it that way, it’s safer and frankly I’d not read enough about breech births (i.e. nothing) to be able to put forward a case against it or even query it. By now, my contractions were fierce and furious, and knowing my track record on deliveries, I urged them to move quickly.

I was a little gutted, because out of the whole experience I had found the pushing stage to be utterly exhilarating. I was sad to miss that moment when the animal instinct takes over, but I was also in pain, felt the urge to push and wanted BUB.3 to be safe.

So to theatre, and with Emeli Sandé’s ‘Clown’ playing on the hospital radio, our acrobatic daughter was born. The spinal block was administered with a heavy hand and reached my nose, so I could barely hold her, shaking like a leaf and heavily monitored for hours afterwards. It didn’t matter.

It was only days later that I remembered what had happened to me a week or so before the birth. We’d been sitting watching Breaking Bad, a pastime that dominated the latter part of this pregnancy, when baby started to move fiercely. For about an hour it was as if she was trying to break out of my stomach, the whole thing was surging, rising and falling.

I had been horrified by Google’s assertion that she probably had the cord caught around her neck and was trying to wriggle free. I told myself she was just active, getting impatient, stretching her legs. But I knew it had been something more than just regular movements.

It is only with hindsight that I am now 99 per cent certain she swivelled up into a breech position that night and the last person to check her, a junior doctor at my local GP surgery, had missed it. I guess a bum and a head feel quite similar?

I didn’t even know for sure if it was possible for a baby to move that late in pregnancy, but apparently they can. I’ll never know for sure if mine did.

And I’m sure it’s not the last time my daughter will assert her free will, shock the living daylights out of me, cause me inconvenience and pain and leave me a physical wreck.

But I’ll try to always remember the little pink face, the shock of black hair and that first shaking, awe-struck cuddle whenever she does.

Baby I don’t care

Everybody seems quite concerned about poor Kate being in labour while the world waits. But whether it’s day or night, hot or cold, once you’re in the zone, I think the sky could turn pink and small bananas could start raining down and you wouldn’t notice. I remember looking at the bag of neatly packed iPod speakers, cold compresses, hot water bottles, massage oils and other paraphernalia as merely a trip hazard during my first labour,

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Everbody seems quite concerned about poor Kate being in labour while the world waits.  Can she block it out? Will it add to the stress? And while I imagine the last few days have been a bit tense, with the media parked outside the hospital on stepladders, I also think that giving birth offers a miraculous buffer to the world around you.

Everyone’s experience is unique, of course, and I can only speak for myself, but whether it’s day or night, hot or cold, once you’re in the zone, I think the sky could turn pink and small bananas could start raining down and you wouldn’t notice. I remember looking at the bag of neatly packed iPod speakers, cold compresses, hot water bottles, massage oils and other paraphernalia as merely a trip hazard during my first labour, as I strode around the room fighting excruciating contractions. As you do.

The outside world, the last few months, the worries and concerns, all tend to take a back seat as you become immersed in the process of giving birth. Of course it’s all consuming, as your body takes you to realms of pain you could never before imagine and behaves in an incredibly autonomous and powerful way. You can buy a 100% cotton black birthing wrap dress, get your nails done, dye your eyelashes, carefully pick out the cutest first baby outfit, but on the day, you won’t care about any of those things. If you’re famous, the media might, the magazine readers might, but you won’t.

We all know how birth plans fly out of the window, and they do, and they might as well, literally. Your entire being is giving birth in whatever way your body sees fit. There is nothing else.  And as Kate doesn’t know the gender yet, she might find the moment she first sees the baby or someone tells her the gender, her reaction is one of shock.  Mine was this: “Oh! I forgot about that too!”

The female body is an amazing thing during birth, however hard or straightforward it is, and whatever way the baby is delivered. The experience inside the mother’s head  is hard to describe but I don’t think it involves much concern for those camped outside the door.