Sunday, December 6, 2009

Birth Story (Number One)



OK. Time to put the brakes on. And not only because there was a birthday kid, two rollerblading cohorts, a skateboarding brother and a two year old running frenzied circles inside the house. Grandma Myrtleandeunice was the instigator of it all. It’s not like she keeps her rollerblades in the boot of her car any old day.



Except it isn’t any old day for us. The eldest kid is now eight and my right foot is fumbling for those brakes. Crikey, life happens fast.

Grandma featured eight years ago too. As she was leaving for the airport in Melbourne, I was waking to breaking waters. There was just time to catch her on the phone, warn of a possible airport non-appearance 24 hours later. Poor sausage. She paced the aisle of the plane between Melbourne and Singapore while I wafted back to sleep from the sheer boredom of nothing else happening.

In true first birth style, there were two false-alarm tube trips to St Georges Hospital in Tooting, London, lugging all the informed paraphernalia of labour. This included, but was not limited to, a bucket: to sit on and rock about in circles (truly a ridiculous stunt even when not whale-like), a pillow: for on top of bucket (we were advised of hospital shortages. I’m not kidding) and a bottle of Evian spray mist.

The same Evian spray mist was on hand for the second and then, (pure, bemused habit), third birth. I have only ever sprayed the thing once: during the long haul flight back to Melbourne, because this birthday kid was having a mammoth, pass-out tantrum. I remember wondering if it would calm her down. Pah! This kid calms when she’s ready.

It took much negotiation to steer 48 hours clear of the hospital and avoid the dreaded artificial induction. After Mum’s relieved arrival through customs, she poured raspberry leaf tea down my throat and accompanied lumbering laps around Clapham Common. The Mr prepared hot curries and hot baths. I shake my head and grin to remember how I HAULED MYSELF OUT OF BED THREE TIMES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO PERFORM STAR JUMPS. A memorable visual image. All in the name of beat-the-clock, get-this-baby-moving desperation.

This first birth, so opposite to the last, was pure inexperience, naïveté and foregone conclusion. The Mr and I arriving at hospital, the nagging discomfort of the canula pulling in my hand, the belly monitor tethering, the artificial kickstart to labour. All while trying to balance on a bucket. Although the Mr proved most dexterous at toppling-bucket-wife-catching, the kid refused to play ball. There was more and more and yet more syntocinon until this exhausted, star-jumping, labouring mother finally hit the wall.

An epidural agreed upon and administered before an anaesthetist lunch-break, went agonisingly awol. Failing to take effect on both sides of my body, I lay on my back, half-paralysed, like an insect doing death throes – furious at the anaesthetist’s airy assurances all would be fine in a minute or two.

Through the one and a half hours I writhed and begged for the anaesthetist’s return, I can clearly recall a focus on the window high above the ground and what clearly seemed to me the only reasonable avenue of escape.

When the anaesthetist reappeared to have another go at that epidural, I could not catch my breath between contractions. The Mr must have held his own breath as he battled to hold me still and tight. With the blessed relief of a functional anaesthetic, I was able to calmly but alarmedly watch as my poor bloke fell away in a dead faint.

Twelve hours ticked by, the Mr recovered from his mild concussion and I (apparently) ‘laboured’ through the epidural. When it was time for the scheduled eight o’clock ‘pushing’, I lay helplessly, ridiculously, on my back – waiting for contractions, to ‘bear down’. On what, exactly? With a cheersquad in attendance, I failed again and again. A ventouse called for and the Mr, remembering the birth plan and huff and puff class advice, questioned the situation and asked how necessary this was. ‘Not necessary, if you want a blue, floppy baby’, the response. And so she was born.

A beautiful bundle, surreal to behold. I couldn’t fathom anything of all that had happened. In fact, the fathoming took weeks. The Mr cottoned on much more quickly. He doted and held his sweet girl most of the first day.

The 24 hours, in hospital, after the birth, could not end quick enough. The ongoing indignity of various rushed agency midwives yanking a breast in the approximate direction of a ravenous babe, more of the cheerleading proclaiming the attachment ‘just right’, (so... there’s supposed to be blood?). Even my generally mild-mannered Mum, saw what was happening, came over all feisty and lioness, protecting her brood.

In the end, this baby and me, we worked it out. At home, in the (mostly!) calm. We watched each other for long stretches of time, saw what each was about, understood we are much the same.



Happy birthday, sweet rollerblading, upside-down gymnast, giver of great hugs eight year old.

29 comments:

quirkygranolagirl said...

Thank you for sharing the story of your first babe's arrival. I've been wanting to write and post the story of mine but he's only 6 months old and a little more distance might make for a better writing.

She looks like she really likes her new dress. And is that a new hair kerchief?

Hayley Egan said...

aw, she's a princess. Great birth stories. X

Hayley Egan said...

I just went back to read the third, which I missed somehow.. and this being the chocolate, couch dwelling time of the month, got a bit teary...

Jo said...

Dear lord! What a start to motherhood... and you did it again, twice! I hope that the next two were a little more civilized. I do love the visual of the bucket on the tube though. Happy Birthday to your sweet, first born.

Jo said...

Ah, just went back into your archives for a look-see... my 3rd was cathartic too ~ no synticinin, no scalpel; finally just how it's 'supposed' to be. Thank you for sharing, Jo x

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Looking at that grin and guessing at the dogged determination to do things her way and get it right , I think she's probably very like you . Fun !!
Reading this and remembering my first labour , I can't understand how anyone ever has any siblings . Selective amnesia .... probably just as well .
Meanwhile , Happy Birthday !!!

Angus in Northcote said...

headscarf

Madeline said...

What a beauty you've got on your hands. Happy eighth to her!!

What is it that makes birth stories so intriguing? I love reading them, and this one is no exception. However, I do wish that hospitals didn't feel compelled to make the stories so much more 'interesting' than necessary.

I can totally relate to "so...there's supposed to be blood?". I'm not sure what's required to become a lactation specialist, but I'm fairly certain that I could do a better job than the ones in the hospital with me after Levi's birth. But, like you, we worked it out...painfully, but it worked...for that matter it's still working.

If you find that brake, let us all know where it is. I don't think there's a half decent mother around whose not in search of it.

elly bee said...

can't hardly believe it is 8 years ago! it sounds so far away in the past and it feels so close by. When I do read the story again I cannot believe how the English act on 'giving birth'.

She looks great and love the tiny legs with the enormous skates. And the dress, it seems she is all happy about it....

happy birthday, big little girl!
eb xx

Bek said...

She looks beautiful in her new dress (and what sweet curls!) ! Happy Birthday 8 year old!

My husband fainted at my firstborn's birth and spent the night in hospital. A tale that is sure to become family folklore.

Gina said...

Thanks for letting us travel that memory with you. It sounds intense and foreign and yet so familiar... what a heavy entry into motherhood (is it ever not?! even the gentler births are followed by, you know, the early weeks of parenting!!)

I will say it again, just how well you write, how much poignance and pathos you manage to evoke (all the while having me chortling. Bucket, what the?)

xx G

m.e (Cathie) said...

awww, happy birthday, birthday girl, will be back later to read as heading out now...and it's a longggggggggyyyyyy ♥

beccasauras said...

You brought tears to this midwife's eyes- of horror, I can't beleive that's how we were taught, only 10yrs ago! It's sad that I may be the midwife in one of those horror stories!
But reading the youngest's story made me feel better. I so hope I have one of those experiences one day.
What date is 8yr old's b'day? Little Miss was yesterday- I was exlaiming last night at 7.34pm- 6 yrs ago you were born!
I think i'll do that every birthday for the rest of her life!She made me wipe her bottom yetserday 'becasue it's my birthday' so i'll make sure I do that every birthday for the rest of her life too haha!

I want to watch Little Miss's birth dvd, but am a bit frightened- loud suction noises, lots of shots of a stretching perineum (thanks sis!) but the coming out into dad's hands is worth it at the end!

beck said...

Your sweeties little grin reminds me of my own eight year olds. It's something about the teeth I think..! Oh that first birth...nothing prepares you for it and anything can happen. Hope you have fun celebrating your big girl, she looks like a real goer, and I love her dress xo

Kylie said...

Yep, it's a rollercoaster ride, and sometimes they just keep rollerblading their way through life, which is the lovely part :) I had both of my girls in London public hospitals... definite experiences, it's true! I just laugh whenever I visit anyone at the private hospitals here. Look at your gorgeous girl - she's a treasure. Kx

Sandrine said...

Happy birthday to your gorgeous little lady!Thanks for sharing your birth stories...First birth mine was quite on the horrible side back in France 9 years ago and so bad that I even struggle to write about it even now...But I beleive it seems to make strong little ladies!

Kirsty said...

Happy, happy birthday to your gorgeous big girl.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tarn,
Thanks for sharing your amazing birth story.What an event!
H is truly beautiful and can I say looks a lot like someone else I knew at that age!
Oh and I love the dress!
Happy Birthday eight year old! Love Jen xxoo

One Flew Over said...

What is it with birth stoies and chaos?! Maybe it is in preparation for the main event that is motherhood!

Happy Birthday sweet rollerblader! She looks so darn sweet with her hanky hat on xx

Leonie Guld said...

Happy birthday love....hey your dress looks BEAUTIFUL!!!

Umatji said...

Oh Tania - you brung me to tears agin! And its not just breast feeding hormones - I love your birth stories. They might not be the stories you planned before the birth but they are honest and real and show the love from the Mr the mother and show the seed of love that grew into your now brood. Go well enormous 8 year old you have a legend as a mother I suspect!

Meagan @ecoMILF said...

Happy Birthday to your beautiful girl. THanks so much for sharing your story. I believe it is so important as women to share our birth stories openly and candidly so that we can learn, grow and and gain strength from one another. xoxo m.

Nikki Cardigan said...

I'm sure, during those early long stretches of time just spent watching, it was hard to imagine your perfect girl as an 8 year old. Life does happen too fast... which is why it's so important and lovely to take time to stop and remember.

It was beautiful to read about your's girl arrival into the world... and it wasn't a word too long! I hope she had a great birthday and loved her dress, which she looks gorgeous in!

nikkishell said...

Happy Birthday to you both!!
I had my first in a UK hospital and i've got to say i MUCH prefer the Aussie way of doing things.

Christy said...

Belated happy birthday to your little girl! She's gorgeous!

Happydacks said...

Lovely post, I really enjoyed this, funny, honest and so descriptive.
Happy 8th Birthday to your lovely daughter Tania!
Chele x

PottyMouthMama said...

What a ride! Wow that was one heck of a birth story - incredible, funny (though I am sure, not for you!), and there were so many parts I could relate to. Thank you for sharing.
ANd HAPPY BIRTHDAY! WOOHOOOOO!

Cindy said...

Happy birthday even if I am a little late. She looks so grown up already and only 8. So loved your story too

The Awakened Heart said...

Your story and mine. Traumatic, naive and in no way prepared for the pain that came with a baby posterior and unable to move down into the birthing canal. I love that you shared your story here and that the third time (you went back twice more, you amazon!) was the charm. I wrote about my second birth - the one where it all went right and it was very healing. I'm off to read your third one now.