Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My baby's all grown up - my birth story

It is my son's 18th birthday today.

He programed my cell phone with a reminder in case I forgot his birthday, but I was able to reassure him that I would never forget:
  • being almost a month overdue
  • having stomach bug which eventually put me into labour and spending the whole night on and off the toilet
  • the twelve hours of pain like nothing on earth
  • watching 'American Gladiators' in the middle of the night when contractions were keeping me awake
  • hearing his heart rate drop and knowing as a midwife that it was bad, but as a woman in pain, I didn't care
  • feeling horribly guilty that I didn't care about the implications of his heart rate dropping
  • knowing that things were going wrong when he didn't appear after over an hour of pushing
  • seeing the doctor 'pop out for 20 minutes to do a manual removal' knowing full well he'd be gone for ages and wanting him to do something NOW
  • having a forceps delivery because he was stuck (for those who know about these things, he was in a persistent occipito posterior position)
  • knowing that I'd be closely working with the doctor who had just done unimaginably intimate things to me, in a few months as a colleague?!
Will never forget
I will also never forget
  • the overwhelming joy and relief I felt when he was born and when I heard his first cry
  • the look of excitement and wonder on his father's face
  • the sense of achievement that I had birthed him without an epidural or cesarean section
But most of all, I shall never forget the feeling of absolute surprise and wonder my husband and I both felt when we realized he was a baby boy. We fully expected (and would have loved) another darling girl. When the doctor handed him to me, he was covered in muck and gunge. No one told us what sex the baby was. Eventually as I wiped him off, I realised he was a beautiful, bonny boy.

Taking back control
Probably the single thing that sticks in my mind more than anything was being able to find out ourselves what gender he was - no one said anything to us. It was a little thing but it meant a lot to us especially as we (my husband and I) had just gone through a difficult birth and forceps delivery. I felt that the doctor handed back control of the situation to us by handing us our baby and encouraging us to look at what we had.

A salutatory reminder to midwives and obstetricians about what can come to mean a lot to people - things that we as health professionals never think about. Even now after all these years, I still remember Dr Andrew Hedges, a wonderfully compassionate man who turned a potentially serious situation into one of the most joyful days of my life.

In what way has a health professional made a difference in your life? As a midwife, what do you think you can do to make a difference to the women and families you care for?

In the meantime, have a wonderful birthday, Andrew. You really are my pride and joy.

PS: don't forget, now you're 18, you get to leave home!!


Anonymous said...

I'll have one turning 18 in 2 months. Mostly was all OK - but i'll never forget the staff coming into the delivery suite during the hours of waiting and contractions to carry out a stocktake - and not really caring who was there, trying out the nitrous oxide once and deciding that it was all too tricky to get the timing right and it was going to be much easier for me to manage this without the distraction of the pain relief, and the worry next day to discover he had a heart murmur. But this resolved itself in due course.

I really hope that shared birth stories are not excessively focussed on what can go wrong - do you think that there are proportionally more horror stories shared than positive stories.

Lil said...

What a beautiful post! I love all the memories you have, like it seemed to only have happened yesterday :) Happy birthday to your son!
Lil xox

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi anonymous, I must admit your comment is making me wonder about my birth story. Is this story too negative? What was it in my post that made you make that comment? The last thing I want to do is make my birth story one of those awful horror stories you read/hear. At the same time, it wasn't a particularly easy birth even with all the support I had from the midwives caring for me. I had hoped that the 'negative' side was balanced by the joy my husband and I felt when my son was born.

As for the answer to your question - I have to say that I have always been fascinated by the birth stories that I find on the Internet. I wanted to do my PhD on that very subject - some sort of discourse analysis of birth stories on the Internet. But I was talked out of it - but that's another story...

I don't know the answer to your question but I suspect the answer is that 'horror' sells - beautiful, 'normal' births don't have the same impact. What do you think?

Peta Hopkins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Actually it was remembering all the terrible stories that other mothers kept foisting on to their sisters and friends with impending births, back when I was in those circles of people. They seemed to take delight in horrifying them, when that was the last thing they needed. They needed some reassurance that most women get through the experience successfully and there is a good chance that nothing will go horribly wrong.

June 11, 2008 7:18 PM

Sarah Stewart said...

Its not dissimilar to men and their vasectomy stories!