I never made a birth plan, figuring that you can’t plan such things as getting a baby from womb to room in the way that you can plan, say, a picnic or a visit to the dentist. On the one hand, I was right. Even if I HAD planned to give birth at home or in a pool or whatever else, I wouldn’t have got my wish. On the other hand, I was pretty ignorant about certain aspects of childbirth and if I have another baby I will be armed with a watertight plan in case I’m put on The Drip – aka Satan’s Nectar – again.
The Drip is used to induce birth. When my waters started trickling out a day after Mary was due, they were a funky colour. Think of moss mixed with rust and a dash of Nutella and you’re pretty much there. It turns out that Mary had charmingly done a nice big poop in my womb, and so she had to come out asap. No dilly-dallying for Mary and I. No slow and steady journey from first contraction to last. The Drip fast-forwards things at an insane speed and made me think that I might die.
I didn’t scream. I prefer to internalise anxiety and pain. But I did make noises, towards the end, that wouldn’t have been out of place in a barn. My contractions went from “oh, these are fine!” to “I. Need. An. Epidural” at breakneck speed. There was no time for an epidural. At 8pm I was sitting in the hospital waiting-room watching Eastenders. At 9.04am I was holding my 8lb 7.5oz slippery bundle of love in my arms. Given that much of those initial hours was spent waiting for a pessary to work (it didn’t), having a bath and eating Wine Gums, that’s a fast turnaround.
So if we have another baby, I will be armed with a plan. If I’m put on The Drip again I will immediately ask for an epidural. I ended up numb from the waist down anyway, since I needed my second-degree tears stitched up in theatre, so I may as well have used that delicious numbness to push our jumbo baby out.
I will also make sure that my cannula is put in correctly, on the front of my hand. One of the midwives put it in the front of my wrist, exactly where my hand bends, and, four and a half months on, it’s still bruised. My vaginal stitches hurt less.
I will also remember to remove my specs, put on a nice flowery nightie, and tie my hair back as soon as labour starts. So fast did things move that in a photo taken immediately after Mary was born I’m still wearing my specs (lopsided) and the XXL man’s black t-shirt from Asda that I entered the hospital wearing. I look deranged.
A plan might just prevent this, and while I probably won’t go full ‘essential-oils-and-Enya’, I will do my utmost to avoid the barnyard madness from reoccurring.