Warning, you may not want to read this if you are about to have a baby. Or even if you think you might one day have a baby. Or if you are at all squeamish.
So, fed up of unpacking yesterday, we decided to visit my sister and brother-in-law at their stud farm where a couple of baby horses had been born this week.
My brother-in-law gave us the tour of the stables and then we all traipsed out to the field to see the foals. They were GORGEOUS! My sister and I were talking about when the foals were born and I commented that one of the mothers and her foal seemed to be running around a great deal, but the other mother and her foal were in the corner not really moving around much.
We grimaced at the thought of these poor horses giving birth to these babies that have SUCH LONG LEGS. And then, in true mother fashion, we starting reminiscing about our own birth stories. Now I may not have shared this with you before but I had two dreadful births. The fact that I have had two dreadful births shocked me at the time, not so much because of the fact that they were dreadful, but because I have such huge child-bearing hips that I look like I should be able to give birth to two babies simultaneously and NOT FEEL A THING.
My labour with Harry progressed well until just before I was fully dilated. Then the room started to fill with people and a sense of semi-panic started to fill the air. “Vee need to get vis baby out fairly quickly now,” the consultant, a big butch German woman, said and I was given an episiotomy and she positioned the forceps and started to guide the baby out. More urgency and the next thing I really recall is the big butch German consultant standing with one foot on the floor and the other foot pushing hard on the bed between my legs while she pulled the forceps with all her might. I’m sure this can’t have done Harry any good at all, and if they tried something similar with him now I would be screaming “what the hell ARE YOU DOING?” At the time though it seemed odd but I was scared and not sure whether this was a regular ‘method’ of forceps use.
After Harry was born, I was close to haemorraging so when the cord snapped while she was attempting to deliver the placenta, the consultant (and sorry this is so graphic) put her hand right up inside me, reached up into my uterus and delivered the placenta manually. It took an hour to stitch me up while I vomited over and over. That was the best bit I think.
When the consultant was done, she came to me and said, “Congratulations” and gave me a big hug. It seemed very strange. I still think maybe she was expressing her own relief. When the dust had settled, so to speak, I looked at my baby, fell instantly in love, and then I looked around the room and thought I was in an abattoir. I’m not kidding when I say that there was blood everywhere. All over the floor, the bed, the trolleys and all over the lights. How on Earth did it get all over the lights? Then for the next five hours in recovery a stream of people came to examine what was considered to be some of the worst bruising and episiotomy that they had ever seen. With hindsight I’m not sure that ANY of them needed to look. The following day I asked the midwife to review my notes as the full horror of the delivery had sunk in, but despite detailed notes about everything else there was no mention of the ‘unusual’ methods used. And the pain of the epiosotomy was just dreadful for weeks afterwards.
When I think back about it all now, I think OH MY GOD. I know that the main aim is the safety of the mother and then the safe delivery of the baby and that was achieved for which I will be eternally grateful. But still, OH MY GOD.
With William, I was induced because he was a cosy, sucky baby that loves his sleep and he tells me he just DIDN’T WANT TO BE BORN, not until he was ready anyway. So when the midwife tried to break my waters he popped his head out of the engaged position in the pelvis and moved so he was transverse breech. This was not helpful William, if you read this when you are older.
Twenty people came into the room within the space of about three minutes. Not because it was an emergency, but because in hospital terms, it was exciting and unusual. After preparing me for an emergency C-section, which basically means ‘get her to sign the forms and have ‘the shave”, they moved him back to the head down position and broke my waters. For twelve agonising hours I dilated, I dilated some more and then…. nothing. He didn’t come down and he wasn’t going to come out.
And then I got an infection. Suddenly twenty people came into the room within the space of about three seconds because this time it was an emergency. So I had a C-section.
This is major surgery with a fair amount of post-operative pain and a six week recovery period where you are not supposed to lift your toddler into his cot, highchair or bath or even lift him for a cuddle. In short it’s not the birth experience that most mothers hope for. But the reason I have bored you all half to death with this is that the major surgery was NOTHING compared to the pain from the episiotomy and associated assisted delivery I had after my first baby. How is that possible?
So when my sister told me that the horse that wasn’t running around very much had had to have an episiotomy to deliver her foal, I felt so incredibly sorry for the poor mare and I thought to myself the empathy that mothers feel for other mothers (even horses) stretches further than I could have possibly envisaged.