Like all first-timers I didn’t know how bad the pain would get, but I did know I wasn’t having an epidural. No way. Don’t confuse me with a faith-in-nature mummy, my decision was wholly based on the fear of being paralysed. Whilst I objectively know that epidurals are safe, the idea that I wouldn’t be able to move my legs, run if there was a fire, or wee to order, was more terrifying than the fear of pain. So that aspect was sorted. No needles in the spine. But . . . my first baby was OP (occipito posterior or back-to-back). This means he was looking up, not down. It also means, anecdotally, that the labour is very painful as all the contractions go up your back. I spent most of the first part of labour on tiptoes trying to get away from them (if that makes any sense). The other irritating characteristic of an OP labour is that the contractions aren’t regular as the baby’s head doesn’t press evenly on the cervix. They were two minutes apart and then twenty, and then back to three. As the pain worsened, the midwives explained that the baby had to turn or he’d get stuck. No one explained that to the baby. I was getting tired and probably near transition when it all got a bit much, not helped by burning calf muscles thanks to the tiptoes. The gas and air wasn’t enough, so having rejected the epidural, I was offered pethidine. Heaven. I gather it doesn’t suit everyone but it suited me very nicely. I became much more able to deal with the contractions, and in between was positively jolly. Some time during the pushing, I took away the mask to report ‘I’m quite enjoying this’. Oscar arrived, face down, having turned on his way out. My husband cried. I was more interested in the tea and toast.
When I went into labour with my second baby I was already looking forward to the injection of pethidine. Knowing there was a tried and tested way through labour made it less forbidding. Once again the baby was OP. Once again it refused to turn. Once again there was the threat of either a C-section or a stuck baby. I asked for pethidine. The midwife wasn’t mad keen on giving it to me. I don’t know whether it was a change in policy, as it can effect the baby’s respiration, or the timing, but I wanted my pethidine. Luckily she realised I’d go to pieces without it and it duly arrived. This time I punctuated my gasps of gas and air with nonsense. Nobody seemed bothered as it was very good-natured nonsense. Felix slid out. My husband cried. The tea was once again, delicious.
The third labour was the same. OP. Pethidine. Dad crying. Tea. Except it was a daughter.
I loved giving birth. And I love watching One Born Every Minute and cry every time a baby is born. I keep trying to persuade my daughter that being a midwife would be a nice job – they get to drink quite a lot of tea.