Sharing the joyous pain
Giving birth is no longer optional. Much like Charlie Sheen’s ego, we have gone past the point of no return. This baby is going to have come out somehow. And come out somehow from somewhere about as designed to emit it as an economy plane seat is to take a Samoan rugby player.
The pregnancy has just hit the 20 week mark which makes it both unlikely it will end in miscarriage (which from here on in is called a stillbirth) or that NSW law would allow an abortion even if we wanted one. So it’s full steam ahead on working out the least horrendous method of getting through labour.
Himself has been party to the work-out process but has been informed that I will be doing whatever I decide is best in this case. This is, to paraphrase Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, one joyous sharing experience I can have by myself.
(I’m not insisting I get to make all the decisions. Where the load can be shared, be that childcare, education, or just what type car seat to buy, we’ll be negotiating. But when it comes to 24 hours of trauma where his contribution will be limited to apologising and trying to keep his testicles out of my hands’ reach, I’m making all the calls.)
This is not “our” glorious birth experience. When it comes to the physical aspects of pregnancy, we are not sharing anything, joyous or not. I had morning sickness and fatigue, he didn’t. I get to attend endless medical appointments, he gets the edited version after. I push, puke and possibly rupture: he provides snacks and something to shout at. He has been informed that using the phrase, “we’re pregnant” will result in either beatings or me insisting he share the joy of birth by having kidney stones.
My vaginal rupture, my rules, bitches.
I have investigated my labour options. They are:
- A low intervention, low-drug Birthing Centre at the RPAH (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital). They allow for free movement and minimal monitoring in a safe environment but you have to run most of the show and – unlike a good roadie – they won’t provide strong drugs, just gas (which often has no effect) and pethedrine (which often has no effect other than making you loopy and causing projectile vomiting because god forbid you have an orifice that isn’t completely traumatised by this whole thing).
- Epidural at the RPAH labour ward. An epidural involves injecting an anaesthetic between the vertebrae, numbing the body from the injection point down. The advantage (no to reasonably little pain) is for me completely outweighed by the disadvantages – being bed bound on my back (as my legs won’t work), hooked up to a drip, catheter and various machines for several hours with people shouting what to do at me while I can’t even feel enough to be sure I am getting it right.
- Cesarean: When intensive abdominal surgery is seen as the soft option, you know you are in for a fun ride.
The obvious option, given I have no urge to feel more pain than needed, is the epidural. But for a whole host of boring reasons, it’s out. Short version is I get panic attacks, often brought on by the claustrophia of being trapped and unable to move, and as I am semi-deaf listening to people takes a lot of effort for me. Being trapped in a bed for hours with strangers shouting important instructions at me for ages is about the best way I can imagine to completely send myself off the rails.
So, for the moment, I’ve popped myself on the list for the Birthing Centre. Please note, despite the fact that I have signed up for “natural birth”, I’m not advocating it for everyone or even that enthused about it myself. If it were possible, I would be in favour of the most unnatural birth possible – preferably the removal of the foetus from my uterus reasonably early in the process and then a transferal to a glass womb on the wall where I could watch it grow and sprinkle it with fish food daily. Or having Captain Picard beam the baby out and into a waiting crib while the cast of Next Gen cleaned my home for me.
People who view birth as a joyous sharing experience that allows you to experience the full strength of womanhood through an all-out pain marathon can feck right off frankly. I have done (accidental) pain. I have smashed every bone in my foot while out clubbing, fallen 10 feet onto my back and been kicked in the stomach by a horse. And you know what? That shit HURTS and I have NO interest in doing it again. Only an idiot or a masochist actively goes in search of experiences that will allow them to test the boundaries of pain.
Believe me, if I could share the pain of this with them, they’d all be on floor screaming and I’d be on the floor screaming along with them and cackling occasionally.
My dark and fevered imagination has been trying coming up with ways to share the experience generally. Squeezing your partner’s hand off is merely the start of what it suggested. I could video the birth and force people, Clockwork Orange style, to sit through it. Or I could live tweet the birth. I wouldn’t even need to type – my phone has pretty accurate voice command and recognition. I could just gasp out, “Send tweet – AaaaaAAAAAGH! FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK AAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHH COCKBADGERING MOTHERFUCKER!” for 24 hours.
I could. Don’t think I won’t.
After all, it’s meant to be a joyous sharing experience. I wouldn’t want to hog all the fun.