Sceptimum

One sceptical mother (of two)

Archive for the category “Labour”

Write your birth plan on your vulva, Mila (it might get read that way)

According to recent interviews Mila Kunis has firm views on who gets to see her in labour. She’s allowing her doctor and Ashton Kutcher, and Ashton is only allowed if he stays firmly away from the business end.

Mila - this is not the end of you most people will be looking at during your labour.

This is not the end of Mila everyone will be looking at during her labour.

“Two people are allowed in my delivery room. My doctor and my significant other. And he is staying above the action. He’ll be head to head. Not head to vag. Unless he wants to risk his life and see. But I wouldn’t if I were him. I highly doubt he wants to see that being ripped apart and shredded. Because it will be shredded. It’s just a matter of how badly.”

Many sites, including Mamamia.com.au where I saw this story, are asking if Mila should be worried about her partner watching her bits get “shredded”. I am mainly worried that she may think it’s possible to give birth with an audience of just two people, no matter how hilariously-presented and firm her birth plan is. And that’s assuming people reads the damned thing in the first place.

Her doctor will read their birth plan. It is, after all, what they’re paying him for. And perhaps Mila’s labour will be short enough (and her wallet large enough) to persuade her doctor to stay for the whole process. I doubt it though; doctors usually leave the painful tedious hours of cervix dilation to the midwives, and then rush in at the actual emergence of the baby. It will often be several different midwifes, even without shift changes, so the person sticking their finger up your fanjo to check dilation will often be a completely different person to the one who did it an hour previously. Will they all have read the birth plan? Will they bollocks.

So that’s probably your partner plus three people having a good long look at the business end. Want some mild drugs? That’ll be another person in the room. Want the good drugs? That’ll be an anesthetist and possibly their assistant. That’s plus five. Doing it in a hospital? Expect a nurse or five. And some catering and cleaning staff. And people to operate specialised machines. And, if you get really unlucky, some student nurses and doctors. That’s… that’s plus LOTS. There is a good chance there’ll be more people at the birth of your baby that at their first birthday party.

My labour was a fast and straight-forward affair and there was still 13 people present in the room when my daughter was born. Waters broke at 6am, hit the hospital at 8am, c-section completed by 10am. It didn’t even encompass one change of working shift but I still had so many people packed in there it felt like student party in a small flat (complete with drugs and people freaking out). And all of them were having a good gander at the business end. If I’d written “hello, nice to meet you” on my vulva, I’d have saved myself most of the talking I had to do.

Honestly, I’m not even sure who half of the thirteen people were. There was me and my husband (in ridiculous little red hats to mark us out so no one would do something silly like pass us a scalpel or ask us to hold the intestines). There was my surgeon and his nurse, and my anesthetist and his nurse, and a midwife and some other midwife and that’s only eight accounted for… look, I don’t even know why the remaining people were there. They could have been vital medical staff. They could have been the cleaners. They could have been a tour group in from China and desperately lost on their way to the Opera House. I have no idea. All I know is that, for a significant amount of my stay in the hospital, there was a real chance that people would recognise my vulva better than my face.

I was told to write a birth plan. I didn’t. Thankfully absolutely no one checked or I would have been making excuses like “my early labour ate my homework”. I did discuss various options with my partner, so he knew what to push for if I was out of it, but I had nothing in writing. I have no regrets – long birth plans are, I am convinced, only recommended to stop pregnant women from nagging the staff about inconsequential details so they can get on with delivering a healthy baby. Want the father to catch the baby? Sure, if it’s possible. Want whale music? You’ll need to bring it and something to play it on and someone to press the button but whatever. Want your medical staff to read a five page document on how birth should work when they have already delivered hundreds of babies? And think you’ll only need one person present? On your fecking bike, love.

Look, this is not Mila’s fault. The general portrayal of labour and childbirth is as far removed from the reality as the Kim Jong’s family album is from coverage of them in the international news. Before childbirth, mothers-to-be are fed a shite load of stuff about choices and empowerment  and all this hoohah about how you can choose to push your baby out your hahhoo. And then the baby decides to arrive and you realise all your lists and ideas are useless and you may as well just roll with the punches. Honestly, it’s a good way to set you up for actually having a baby – they don’t read the damned plans either. Not even if you write it on your bits.

 

 

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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.

Push, bitches.

Push, bitches.

Fuck.

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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