I was a bit rubbish
“I was a bit rubbish.” Those were the words you uttered to the midwives, the obstetrician and your husband Patrick, straight after your first child Rosie was born. You didn’t expect to say it, you didn’t even realise you had thought it and then the words were out there hanging in the air.
“You did amazingly, you were amazing” you heard a chorus in unison bounce back from the room, you smiled – well, something that resembled a rather sheepish smile, you didn’t believe any of them. You felt ashamed and a bit embarrassed lying there on that hospital bed still partially undressed.
You really were amazing and it really wasn’t your fault you couldn’t push Rosie out without help. You blame yourself for the stress you felt you put her under, but you made the decisions you felt were right at the time as that was your concept of birth. But it really didn’t have to be like that.
You felt so confused as you didn’t really understand what your body was supposed to be doing. You endured an hour and a half of coached pushing, semi-recumbent on the bed, numb from the epidural and the weight of your legs propped up in stirrups. It was hard work and it is completely understandable that you felt unsure what you were doing and if you were even doing it ‘right’.
All you wanted to do when you were trying to push was to hide from everyone watching you. You grasped Patrick’s hand to cover your face and eyes, trying to hide away from the gaze of strangers, and this is how you stayed for some time. You felt so odd for doing this, why couldn’t you just be ‘normal’? What you didn’t realise back then that this was utterly ‘normal’ - more than that, it was a basic natural instinct. Just like any other mammal you didn’t feel at ease in that unfamiliar environment with the eyes of strangers all watching intently. You couldn’t slope off into the wilderness to seek some privacy… so the palm of Patrick’s hand had to suffice!
“Try to get some sleep, this really isn’t it,” the midwife had said to you earlier that evening after you asked her if she thought labour was starting. She was a kind lady, caring, but her words caused harm and a little bubble of panic started to rise as her words reached your ears. You had an induction earlier that day and as you started to pace the corridor you thought surely this must be bloody ‘It’. If ‘this really isn’t It’ whatever ‘It’ is, I’m not sure I can do ‘It’.
The thought of going back to your shared induction room with the thin blue curtain to try to sleep made you feel a bit sick. And at this point Patrick wasn’t even with you as he had been sent home for the night. You should have told him to wait in the reception area, or better still just don’t go because by the time he got home he would have to turn back around again!
This actually was the start of ‘It’ as the artificial hormones were working and very shortly your contractions would come hard and fast, no build up, one on top of the other, no time to rest. You were not being weak for feeling awkward in a shared room and wanting Patrick with you.
Back to the delivery room now and with discussions about a possible emergency caesarean (unplanned caesarean) you were feeling very much out of control. But control had been handed over long before you reached this point.
“If baby isn’t out in the next few pushes we need to start thinking about a caesarean.”
You weren’t shouting, screaming or swearing but I know inside you were now in distress and traumatized, your whole body tense. So before the possibility of a caesarean the gauntlet was set to try a ventouse with ‘just a little cut’ being made first.
So that was that - the obstetrician now had her foot pressed against the bed for extra pulling power and she was poised for action! She was ready to pull and your job was to ‘push’ …when prompted. Still avoiding eye contact you scanned the room for something to focus on and your eye fell on a canvas of a large white flower hanging on the wall. A beautiful white open flower - you started to imagine it floating softly down a gently flowing river, you shut everything else out and that is all you focused on. You didn’t know anything about Hypnobirthing at this point, nothing at all, yet here you were visualizing this soft open downward motion. Your instincts were always present, maybe dulled and numbed, but somewhere deep down they were in you and trying to pull you through.
So with much relief Rosie was born shortly afterwards and you got to cuddle her on your chest, but she soon made one wrong grunt and she was swiftly taken to NICU to be checked. Patrick had gone with Rosie, so as the sun rose over Big Ben, which you could see out of the window, you were now on your own. The room was empty with only a lady cleaning up the floor and you lay on the bed shaking feeling cold and alone. You were only separated from Rosie for a few hours so you felt as if you really shouldn’t grumble, but it was a strange initial start to motherhood for you.
Reunited and now on the postnatal ward, you looked down at Rosie’s face and you felt you had both got through the whole ordeal together, so it bound you. At this point you thought you had it all figured out and you simply had to walk through Hell to pick up an angel. But if I told you that after your son was born roughly two years later you would feel you had strutted up to the gates of Heaven and collected an angel, I know you wouldn’t believe me!
But Hypnobirthing healed you and gave you the strength and understanding you had been looking for all along. You grew from this, you recovered and processed everything and you healed. You found out that birth really didn’t need to be like that. What you went though was absolutely not your fault and you definitely were not ‘rubbish’. It seemed unimaginable for you at the time that you would consider doing this all again, but you found a different way the next time. Then you felt warm, positive and in control. It was the most euphoric, empowering moment of your life.
Now, if only those two little angels would behave themselves…