Exactly one month ago as I type these words, I was in the second stage of labour (thats the pushing bit, where you get the baby out). By the time I finish this paragraph, it will be exactly one month since the baby was born.
Oh no, wait, that paragraph was very short. Well, in theory, if that paragraph was longer, then by the time it finished, it would have been exactly one month, to the second, since Doozer was born. Perhaps the monthiversary will coincide with the end of THIS paragraph, instead. Its not quite so momentous, but heres hoping…
Nope. The end of that second paragraph came and went, and still no monthiversary. I mean, not that the end of that paragraph was anything particularly momentous or noteworthy, it wasnt even very celebratory of the event itself, more placemarkery and OH DAMNIT, I went to stir the dinner and didnt notice that the precise monthiversary of the birth of Doozer (7.21pm GMT on the 11th) happened at some point in the middle of THIS paragraph, which, frankly, was a very poor paragraph for it to fall in the middle of. Was that a split infinitive? Oh god, it just gets worse, doesnt it?
I have written everything I remember about the birth elsewhere, where I can keep it, without making the squeamish squeam and the childfree scream.
But the main things I remember are these things:
1) I will never regret having a homebirth. It was lovely. Im lucky to live twenty minutes from the nearest hospital in an area that supports and has a lot of homebirths, and I was very fortunate to have a good, relatively easy labour. But it was extremely relaxed, and happy, and two hours after Doozer was born, the house was quiet and we were all tucked up in our bedroom (though this was also a little weird, as detailed below). I am glad to have made that decision.
2) There was a good hour in the middle there, however, where I was not pleased to have chosen a homebirth at all. I believe it is called transition, and is the point between contractions and the pushing where everything gets a little scary.
Regardless. I was not pleased at the fact I was having a homebirth. I was terrified at how much pain I was in, I was knackered, and I was angry. Angry with myself for deciding to do it, angry with My Beloved for being on board with it, and (particularly unreasonably) angry with my lovely doula for supporting me through it. The only person I wasnt angry with was the midwife who had just arrived from the hospital, taking over from the community midwife at the end of her day-shift.
I saw her the arriving hospital midwife as some kind of shining beacon of medical wonder and the glory of modern science. Katrina I remember hissing at her, convinced that if I called her by her first name it would be more likely to catch her attention and sound more authoritative and charming. Katrina: why are you letting this happen to me? Katrina, please lets be reasonable about this. Hospitals are brilliant. Come on, Katrina: Take me away from these fucking hippies.
By which I meant… I dont even know who. Im guessing anyone who thought this crazy homebirth thing was a good idea so thats, well, myself, mainly.
3) The moment they came to me and said Weve been talking, and weve decided, you know, perhaps it wouldnt be the worst idea to maybe arrange for a transfer to the hospital, and epidurals are extremely good if youre in this much pain, and if things arent progressing so much and youre very tired andâ€¦ I probably could have been more gracious than to reply Oh well NOW you say that! Now its too late! NOW the babys coming out. I have to push. I HAVE TO PUSH.
It was not the most dignified and ladylike response. Then again, we were having this conversation while I was sitting on the toilet (its not unusual, honest, and please believe me, Doozer was not born there we would have called him Elvis if he had been) so dignity is clearly something that I wasnt overly concerned with at the time.
4) At some point before that, I think, someone told me that I should eat something, and brought me, at my request, a tub of peanut butter and a spoon. There was a bowl of fruit in the room wed set up to give birth in, and I apparently picked up a banana, peeled it, and proceeded to stick it straight into the peanut butter and eat it that way (another good argument for calling Doozer Elvis. He loved that combination, they say. Ah well. Too late now). This is not something I have ever eaten before, nor would eat again.
I have no idea how the banana even held up against the peanut butter.
It was crunchy, and everything.
The peanut butter. Not the banana.
5) I will never forget the night after he was born. Given that he was born at 7.21pm, and that everyone else left by about 9 or 10, we were tucked up in bed by our normal time. Sleeping in our normal bed. On our normal sides. And being knackered, at that. All I remember was being woken up every hour or so by little squawks and snuffles by Doozer, sleeping hard in the crib joined to the side of the bed (babies tend to sleep through that first night, too. They come out pretty exhausted from the whole birth thing) and thinking HOLY CRAP, SOMEONES LEFT A BABY IN MY HOUSE! WHERE DID *THAT* COME FR… Oh no, wait, its Doozer.
6) The midwife I had been looking to as some kind of shining medical angel was, I realised while thinking about the whole thing after the birth, slightly too fond of smalltalk than I cared for. I remember trying to make polite chit-chat about her holiday during a particularly painful contraction.
An hour after the birth, when I was lying on the spare room bed, staring at my new son, trying to work out the whole feeding thing, I remember having this conversation:
Midwife: Did you want to keep the placenta?
Midwife: Because some people do.
Me: No, thanks.
Midwife: They have it encapsulated. Boiled down and turned into tablets.
Me: Yes. I know. But, well, no, Im alright, thanks.
Midwife: So you dont want to keep it?
Me: Yup. Thanks. But…
Midwife: (Spots cat sneaking a look into the room, again) You could feed it to the cats.
Midwife: Well, as a treat, I mean. Its very nutritious. You could keep it, and feed it to the cats.
Me: (Tries to imagine cooking up a part of my own body, chopping it and feeding it to my pets, allowing them to get a taste for not only human flesh, but MY human flesh, then awaking one morning, only to find them sitting by the side of my pillow, licking their lips and looking decidedly un-petlike. It would be the last thing I ever saw.)
No. Thank you. But no.