“Why isn’t he crying?”
I still remember naively sitting there at my 36-week appointment. The midwife asked me how nervous I was to give birth out of 10, I said 1 just to give her a number. I had this unrealistic expectation of birth. That I was a woman, and it is meant to just come naturally to me, and I am going to be this goddess who does a full ‘Kourtney Kardashian’ and pulls their baby out their ginny themselves without breaking a sweat. I was 24, had been athletic all my life and had formed my opinion of birth from the glorified accounts I followed on Instagram.
WHAT A GOOD FUCKING JOKE!
So let me bring you to where shit started to turn south. I am 20 something hours into labour. I got an epidural after consistently telling my husband to cut my foot off. Life was great. I am eating all the snacks and cracking banter with the midwife (cause something has to break the awkwardness of a stranger peering into your womanhood every 5 minutes). Now, my midwife discovers Coda is posterior. I have never heard of this before but IFYKYK. It pretty much means the little babe is facing upwards instead of down and therefore you have more head to push out, which in my case of passing on my genes of giant noggins was not an ideal situation. Coda had a heart rate monitor clipped onto his head as he appeared to become distressed. Briefly, I did feel like my Kourtney wonder woman as I’m sculling my blue Powerade and pushing like Salt-N-Pepa’s hit single.
Nothing is eventuating, so I am told to change positions and there is more chance of him coming out if I am in good old doggy. As I turn over, I managed to pull the epidural out of my back and within 5 minutes the pain is unbearable. I am 25 hours in and done with it. All of a sudden, an emergency alarm goes off and there is 10 people rushing around my room all yelling at each other. They start running me into an operating theatre. I look back at my husband as he gets pushed out of the room and the shutters of the window he was peering through slammed closed. I have zero fucking idea what is going on. I am picked up from each limb, plonked on another bed and I manage to catch a glimpse in the reflection of the BBQ chicken scissors they used to slice me in a place you should never be sliced. The doctor tells me they have lost traces of coda’s heart rate and he needs to come out right now. After a failed attempt at the vacuum assistance, and a try with the forceps, they started prepping me for a c-section.
After I strung together a sentence of choice words, they let me try the forceps one more time. He was finally out. But it was so silent. I felt like I was starring in a drama movie where they are calling out “why aren’t they crying!?’. My husband was allowed back in but was told he was not allowed to go see our son yet. We finally heard that beautiful cry after 6 long minutes of emergency intervention. Well, you think that would be enough for a day. I hadn’t stopped bleeding. You know how magicians pull out a handkerchief and then they keep pulling out metres of them all tied together? Yup, well it felt like my downstairs was Mary fricking Poppin’s bag and they were packing it was so much gauze, it would put the handkerchief chain to shame. 38 stitches later, doc comes up to me and says, “it does look like a shark bit you down there so maybe don’t look for a few days”.
This is where I am going to get real. After all of that, I didn’t really want to hold my son. I didn’t want to do skin to skin or try and navigate breast feeding. I felt like I had just been to war and lost. I just wanted a moment to process what the fuck had just happened. But he needed to be held and fed and so that is what I did. I put myself on the back burner. I felt like my body had failed me, I felt it failed my son. Why was it that something so “natural” was so difficult for my body to do? That it had to become a traumatic emergency? So not only did I have a hell of a recovery ahead of myself, I was emotionally abusing myself for it.
In this society we are so prepared for the baby’s arrival. Their nursery is newly painted and Instagram-worthy, cloths all freshly washed and sorted, every type of vibrating/swinging/rocking seat possible ready for them. But what about us Mummas? I sure as hell was not prepared to have to use a pump bottle of salt water to squeeze on myself as I pee to help with the pain or stand there and shit myself cause I took too many laxatives or wear adult diapers cause you lose so much blood you question how the fuck you are still alive. I slipped into a deep postpartum depression. I could not forgive myself for my birthing experience. I was completely disconnected from my son. I saw all these posts saying, “I never knew a love like this existed” or “you are the best thing that ever happened to me” and I could not relate. I spent most of the time crying and if I am completely transparent, I wasn’t even sure I liked being a Mum. I’m not sure if it was the detachment from almost losing him as a self-defence thing, him being associated with the trauma or my mental state, or all of the above. (For those concerned, don’t worry, I did go see a psychologist and I will get into that next episode!) (P.S, I also love being a Mum now…. Most days).
I felt so so alone until one day, I walked into one of my first mums and bubs gym classes and literally just blurted out “fucking hell being a mum is hard and I hate it some days”. I did get a few weird looks, but I mostly was met with relief. Relief that finally someone has said it. I had some mums come up to me that session and we laughed about how fucked up it can be, some message me afterwards saying thank you for being so real and some now who are my best friends because of it. I had no idea how afraid so many mums were to be “real” about how they feel sometimes. I can openly say coda is an arsehole, but he also is my own ray of sunshine I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Fast forward a couple of years and I recently gave birth to our second son, Ari. He was my healer. I did a maternal-assisted c-section with him. I finally got my “Kourtney Kardashian” moment and pulled him out of my stomach like a freaking superhero. All the stigmas as to why natural birth is better for bonding, I got from a c-section, and all the disconnect from my natural birth.
So why have I decided to put all this out there? For my fellow members of the sacred mum village. Whether you already are or will be. It is O-fucking-Kay to be real. We aren’t all unicorn mothers who magically live happily ever after. It’s more of a shit storm we survive each day with glimmers of sun that shines through and makes it all worth it. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others and fucking unfollow the glorified accounts. Be honest with yourself, with your family, your tribe. Tell them when you need help. When you see a mum struggling to get the groceries in the car with her UFC qualified toddler, help her. When you walk past a mum who has bags so big under her eyes, jet star would charge for extra Cary on, smile at her. We all have our own journey which is a hell of a lot nicer when we support one another.