A long ramble on being pregnant and on labour

For several weeks now I've been popping down to Birth Without Fear and reading about how other women do it. Birth stories are such a multitude, and experiences vary greatly - and so do attitudes.

Two and a half years down the track I understand now why so many birth stories get written down a long, long time after the birth itself. One reason, of course, is a baby, who - especially if it is a first one! - consumes if not a lot of time, then a lot of energy at least. When The Kid was little, so much was happening, so many lessons I was learning on this new journey of parenthood that there simply wasn't enough brain capacity and stillness left to contemplate the birth.

The other, of course, is an emotional buffer time gives if the experience has been traumatic. I can feel, physically almost!, how the further I am getting from The Kid's birth, timewise, the less quilt or other confusing emotions I am feeling about it. The further I am getting, the more I am able to accept that a lot of what happens around birth is happenstance.

(Happenstance. Go look it up in the dictionary if you feel, I'll be here still when you get back. It's okay.)

So much happens before, during and after birth that some of it simply is out of my reach, and there are much greater things taking place. Some may call it God, some may call it energy, I would probably call it... life. Life happens before, during and after birth; things I am not aware of or don't even understand at the time.

And that's the third thing: understanding. Understanding comes with time.

At the time there was so much happening that although I was pretty sure I was "there" the whole time and aware of it, in bits and pieces I've pieced together since I have also come to understand that some of what happened during that labour and in the days afterwards, I don't remember. I just simply. Don't. Remember.

As I've been thinking about pregnancy and labour, both current/upcoming and previous, and talking to The Man and my midwife, and reading the labour notes, I've actually come to understand more of what happened the first time.

I've come to understand, for example, that when my waters started leaking at 38 weeks and then ruptured pretty much in their entirety, it was because my placenta along with the sack was getting old - "gritty" they call it among medical professionals - and wasn't working efficiently.

Often it is smokers whose placentas go "gritty" (because of toxic exposure), or women whose pregnancies are way overdue in which case placenta is simply nearing its life expectancy (as it eventually would); hormonal imbalance can sometimes be the culprit, or stress (if it affects the hormonal balance), or sometimes... it just happens.

Sometimes it just simply happens.

As much as I blamed myself - for a long time! - in my baby's struggles those first few weeks, thinking that the overwhelming stress I'd let myself get into at work had caused the calcification and the grittiness and the eventual premature rupturing, and as much as I hated the man who kept causing such stress out of ignorance or stubbornness - or plain idiocy! I don't know - I've come to accept that at the time, I simply did not know any better.

And even if I had known, and had walked out of my job or at least on that colleague, it could've still happened because some of what happens before, during and after labour is happenstance.

I found healing in reading this:


I've since learned that as my body - and my baby - weren't ready for labour yet anyway (the waters had ruptured prematurely because the membrane had simply given out, not because of oncoming labour), so the eventual induction and everything that followed, including that emergency cesarean and NICU and lack of breastmilk which then pushed things even further - it wasn't my fault. It really wasn't!

I tried, I had honestly tried - and the struggles I and The Man were facing were just an uphill run against a hill that was simply too big to just leap over it, so we ended up chugging uphill for such a distance simply because it was a big hill.

Pretty much from the day when I first thought I had peed my pants - and later learned that it was amniotic fluid instead - was the day when that hill grew big and from then on, chances were that we were going to end up with an array of interventions anyway.

I have since learned that because my baby lost most of the amniotic fluid around him - fluid that otherwise "cushions" babies during contractions - then by the time the strong, syntocinon-induced contractions hit, The Kid (who wasn't ready for coming out anyway) was on his third day of being banged up and down in my uterus, head down against my pelvic bones.

If it were me in there, I would also probably start dipping in heart rate.

I've since learned that when they took him out via cesarean, he was occiput transverse, meaning, he was head down, yes - but sideways. Essentially the widest part of his head was pushed into the narrowest part of my pelvis. And for how long he'd been like that? We don't know. We just know that this is what he was like when they got him out.

I've since learned that because my baby was small, and because the amniotic fluid was mostly gone, and because initial progesterone-induced contractions were uneven, then instead of sitting low in my pelvis and pushing down on my cervix, therefore gradually stretching it open - like happy labours do - he was banged up and down, up and down, up and down, and my cervix instead of flattening and opening was thickening up and closing, because it kept getting beaten against.

(Try banging your fist on your thigh for a whole day and see if you get a bruise. The same thing, really.)

So many things I've come to understand since then.

I've come to understand that for some reason, although against medical practice, I was induced with (vaginal) progesterone which - given that my membranes were ruptured for the fourth day already - should've not really happened. Once the membranes have been open like that, nothing should go up the vagina, except for a gloved finger or sterilised equipment, because of potential for infection.

I've learned that although I laboured for that whole night in a bath and found it helpful, that should've not really happened either, again, because of the potential for infection. And when I started vomiting in a bath? Yeah.

Why all these things were done? I don't know. Maybe there were good reasons or maybe people simply made mistakes, I don't know. In those early stages of labour there was a whole array of staff checking up on us, maybe things went unchecked or unsaid.

A lot of those things I didn't know at the time - and didn't even have the capacity to know at the time - because as it happened I was moaning in a bath and later on a table in a well-lit room, and I was really not that concerned with details or procedures because at the time, most of my thought went along the lines of either

"Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiin!" or
"Phew, it's gone, I have a few minutes to rest, jesus how tired I am..."

And so on.

And where I'm really going with this, I don't know, but The Kid is asleep and I am sitting on a sofa and reminiscing.

This morning someone said something about my pregnancy and upcoming labour that I found very upsetting and I guess what I am doing is gathering my thought and my emotions into a tidy little bundle because I feel that this time, I am going to cut out the noise of other people a lot, lot sooner - in fact, very soon I think - and I am simply going to start focusing on what I am doing.

I am strong, and I am healthy.

The Kid is awake. Gotta go!

1 comment:

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