So I suppose the time has come for an explanation of my username “Waterbirthplease” which kind of speaks for itself, but in an ironic way, believe me! Many experienced mothers whilst I was pregnant told me not to bother with a birth plan, but I was keen to do everything properly and knowing best, promptly ignored them. A birth plan I wanted, so a birth plan I produced. There’s something however in actually putting your wishes into writing that – in my head anyway – kind of cemented the notion that that was what WILL and MUST actually happen. I’m sure that a lot of Mums reading this will not be surprised to learn that it pretty much went out the window. Oh and I had such ideals! How impressed I thought the midwives and doctors would be when they see the care, effort and research I had put into it! So when my waters broke, off we toddle to the hospital, my husband and I (surprisingly
calmly it has to be said) an immaculately packed and repacked and repacked again suitcase in one hand, and the all important birth plan clutched in the other. Thank goodness I have had the forethought to inform the medical staff on how to deliver my baby, thinks I, as we wait to be examined. However . . . no contractions, no pain, no nothing. Blood pressure and temperature fine, baby it would seem, staying put. So off we go home again with instructions to ring up straight away if any change soccur, or in 24 hours if nothing happens.
I am told upon ringing the hospital back that I will need to come in at 8am the following morning to be induced. I hang up and stand staring a bit numb. Induced? That isn’t in my birth plan. I don’t know how that affects what is in my birth plan. Can I still have my water birth? I HAVE to have my water birth. I have a mental picture of my beautiful new daughter floating up towards me from the water, an angelic chorus playing softly in my head, an emotional husband gently mopping the brow of my freshly flushed glowing new-mother face as I scoop my delicate bundle from the aqueous pool of calm.
Here are some of the things I had on my lovely plan:
• Water birth please (you’ve probably gathered this one by now!)
• Low lighting
• Only those absolutely necessary present.
• I shall provide my own music (??!!)
• Immediate Skin to skin
• No episiotomy.
• No drugs.
What I actually ended up with was:
• Loads of drugs
• An episiotomy
• A brightly lit theatre with legs akimbo and the entire cast of scrubs faffing about down there
• No music!
It all started to go a bit pear shaped from the word go really, when the nurse couldn’t get a needle in my hand. It would seem that I have veins smaller than the atom and it took two nurses, a doctor, and then finally an anaesthetist to get the flaming thing in. Then the gas and air. (Homer Simpson moment. . . “MMmmmm…gas and air!”) and then the epidural. (Turns out they are highly recommended when being induced as there is no natural build up with contractions, just full strength straight away. Ouch.) The epidural man, as I like to call him, asks me to drop my chin (in order to stretch the spine for the needle) Being a bit off my rocker on the gas by this point, for some reason I take that to mean “stick your chin forward” which I promptly do. Then I get the giggles as I think I look like Bruce Forsythe and begin doing impressions accordingly. “Good game good game, nice to see you…”etc. Husband and epidural man look baffled.
Several hours later, in the throws of things, being shouted at to push, and still off my head – I have a sudden panic about whether or not my cat at home is ok. (Her name is Chicken.) “How’s Chicken, how’s my Chicken? Is she ok?” I demand throwing myself upright. (More gas and air) The mid-wife, God love her, is watching the monitor closely and assumes Chicken is the pet name for my unborn child.
“She’s absolutely fine and her heart rate’s steady. Nothing to worry about” She coos soothingly. I lean back on my pillows, relieved and impressed that the hospital staff are so au-fait with my cat’s health.
Now I’m not one for the gory details, but Madam got stuck on her way out, her heart rate dropped, and that’s when all hell seemed to break loose! After the chaos of the labour and theatre, the next thing I remember clearly, after pushing for 19 hours, emotional and exhausted, is the staff all shouting at me to look up. I lift my head . . .
And there she is.
In the arms of the doctor, and crying her little heart out from her difficult journey. My heart explodes. My husband is tearfully whispering in my ear “Thank you” and the chaos of the rest of the world melts away as I look at Grace. “Go with her” I tell Stu as they take her off for jabs and wrapping up. Finally holding my wrinkly little maggot in my arms, nothing else matters.
She’s got my nose.
Her little fingers wiggle about, feeling the top of the towel she’s wrapped in, exploring her new world. Her eyes scrunch up, and she smacks her little lips together. She’s perfect. She’s our Grace Isobel.
So have a birth plan – apparently, sometimes things do go how you want. (Although I’ve yet to speak to any actual real human being for whom this has been the case) Just don’t get your heart set on it. Grace my not have floated up towards me from an “aqueous pool of calm” but she was safe and healthy and that’s what matters. (I’m mentally and physically scarred for life of course, but whatever.)
All I can say is, when I found that plan in my hospital bag a few days after we’d got her home, it provided a good laugh if nothing else!