Tag Archives: women

I’m not scared of the birth (yet)

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I’m not scared of the birth (yet)

Fifteen years ago, like most women in their first pregnancy I imagine, I spent a lot of time thinking about, researching and creating my birth plan. I wanted as natural a birth for my son as was possible, and I wanted to labour in water as pain management, that was a big one for me. As it turns out, no-one cared about the birth plan, at all. I’m not sure anyone even looked at it.

I was living in London at the time and was booked into Guy’s Hospital. After an initial false start I finally did get admitted and shown to a birthing suit that had a large bath, only to be told that if I was to use it I needed a midwife with me all the time and they were simply too short staffed that night to accommodate that. I sat on a birth ball in a sterile and stark room, shivering with cold, laboring through the night feeling very overwhelmed and alone while my husband (at the time) slept in the corner. I remember looking longingly at the bath, its presence but inaccessibility taunting me.

I did go on to have an epidural when extreme exhaustion set in. This was the second night I had laboured, I’m one of those people who’s contractions seem to virtually stop during daylight hours, and so after 36 hours of nothing but occasional dozing I gave in to pain relief at 4:30am. The labour stalled at sunrise again, and eventually I was told I was going to be prepped for a cesarean as I had been stuck at 8cm dilated for too long and the baby was now in distress. ‘Just give a push a try’ the doctor said on his way out. I did, and the midwife grabbed my husband by the arm and thrust him into catch position as she madly lunged for gloves. Two more pushes later he was out and the midwife was breathing sighs of relief telling us she’d never seen an actual birth so fast.

My memories of that birth were riddled with feelings of being scared, cold, alone and disempowered, so when number two came along I was determined to do things differently. We’d moved back to Sydney and I had private health cover so I hired a private midwife. I saw the same person throughout the pregnancy so she came to know me, and my values, well. I prepared a birth plan and we’d gone through it but it hadn’t really been necessary, she knew exactly what I wanted and didn’t want. Again the priorities were as natural as possible and please let me labour in water.

Again I found myself in a room with a birthing bath but unable to use it, mostly because number two arrived so fast that I had bearly time to get into the room. Again the hospital had been short staffed, but this time I had my own midwife with me and felt like I was in safe hands. Arriving at 1am I was left waiting in the hallway with another laboring woman with no staff to be seen. He wasn’t going to wait however, he was on his way. My midwife barged into the other room where all the other midwives were and declared she was taking me into the other suite to deliver the baby whether they liked it or not. Two came running immediately. The actual birth was fast again, this time after just a three hour labour. I was still standing near the doorway, having just made it into the room. If my midwife hadn’t been there I probably would have delivered in the hallway, or maybe the labour wouldn’t have been so fast because I didn’t feel safe and supported, I don’t know. What I do know was that it felt like the perfect birth, I’d managed to mentally master the pain and looking back it felt like an empowering experience. I felt like I had conquered the world!

This time, having dropped my private health insurance obstetrics cover long ago, I will be back to a similar situation as my first birth, rocking up at the hospital and hoping I’d come across the midwife on duty before. Even if I had a choice I don’t think I would have felt it necessary to have a private midwife, I’ve done this before and nailed it, I got this. I have a more supportive partner that I have confidence in and I’m less invested in how the baby arrives so much as that she arrives safely. Is this nonchalance because I no longer have anything to prove, or is it because I’m older and wiser? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because at 44 (which I will be when I give birth) they tell you the risks of this and that are so much higher that I will feel blessed just to both get through this alive. Maybe it’s because my large fibroid may mean I need a cesarean anyway, and in coming to terms with that idea already I have started to practice letting go.

I know I will eventually do a birth plan because I’m that type A personality that needs to dot all the i’s and cross all the it’s in order to feel in control and reduce anxiety, but I think I’ve also matured enough to know when to let go and just go with the flow. There has to be some advantage to this older mother gig, maybe that’s it. I’m heading into the third trimester unafraid of the birth experience that is nearing, and that feels good.

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I’m NOT glowing

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I’m NOT glowing

Who ever said pregnant women glow? Do glowing, serene pregnant women even exist? I’m not glowing and I’m not serene. At least I’m over the 24×7 nausea – that started to let up around 18 weeks – only to be replaced by chronic hip and leg pain from sciatica. My working days are long, I have a 1.5 hour train ride between work and home and while I used to find it relaxing the sciatica now means that by the time I get off the train some days I’m almost in tears of pain. It’s my left side, the side you are supposed to sleep on, so that’s going just great too.

For a long while there were relentless pressures. There were left over issues to resolve from our residential move – the unpacking that took too long due to the exhaustion; the fight with the landlord over the bond as he tried to claim for things that he wasn’t entitled to; and the need to complete my last subject at uni while battling the exhaustion, nausea and competing priorities, which included working out why after 6 weeks they still hadn’t connected our internet at home. That makes it particularly difficult to do an online university course I have to say. I got allocated a new project at work that involved learning new technologies and mastering them to consultant level asap. My eldest son’s problems at school escalated, adding regular phone calls at work from the school about his behaviour that cumulated in a 4 day suspension. Teenage hormones and Aspergers just don’t mix. He then ran off to his father’s place to avoid punishment, bringing dealing with my ex-husband into the mix, like things weren’t stressful enough. Oh, and Mr Z was still only working 2 afternoons a week as my maternity leave looms and the mortgage remains a constant.

Amongst it all I got an email from Mr Z’s mother – she wanted to get to know me, which weekend (during my peak uni assessment time) was going to suit me for a visit? Did I mention I don’t have a good relationship with my mother and my last mother-in-law lived up to the quintessential MIL reputation in what could have been an award winning way? I felt pressure on my pressures, I cried, mothers scare me and I didn’t need yet another one in my life to show me disapproval, to kick me while I’m down. I developed a case of mild shingles due to all the stress, which just further exasperated the stress because now the baby was at risk. I felt like I was on the verge of a breakdown.

Then suddenly it all stopped. The rental tribunal came and went having ruled in our favour; the school princIple turned out to be lovely and not at all on the verge of expelling my little trouble maker, she wanted to know how better they could help him; the new mother-in-law was kind and very supportive; I got my uni assignments finished and will graduate after all; Mr Z has several great looking opportunities for work; and the school holidays arrived and the kids went away, my mother’s duties disappearing along with them.

Now I find myself sitting in the resounding silence, feeling disoriented. Spring has arrived, there’s warmth in the sun, the blossoms are out and I even have time to enjoy it. My over-wound nervous system seems to twitch though, I have moments of panic that there’s something I should be doing and it takes a minute or two to mentally run through the issues and reassure myself that no, I’m not dropping any balls, and my breathing starts to return to normal. I feel agitated, not knowing how to cope with having nothing pressing to deal with. Then bub kicks me and I spend a moment focused on her and let the peace and joy I should be feeling finally wash over me. Maybe I might get a chance to glow serenely after all, even if it’s just for a week.

Goodbye chaos, I’ve gained control…

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Goodbye chaos, I’ve gained control…

It’s hard to believe it’s the end of August already. I mean I know the years go by fast at this stage but this one, this one has gone by in the blink of an eye. If in the last few years I felt my life was a little on pause, a little stagnating, this year it has shot forward with a jolt in a way that has left me standing here wondering what on earth just happened. In hindsight, the previous years were all a lead up to this, what I thought was stagnation was actually preparation and planning.

So what has happened this year? Well I’ve been away for so long that there’s some catching up to do. Mr Z and I benefited greatly from some time apart, realising that we still had a strong friendship and foundation of caring that meant we were able to resolve our differences and come back together with renewed and more realistic expectations. I had time to remember what my own plans had been for my life prior to having met him, and spent time getting those back on track. 

I re-committed to my studies and finally saw that financial planner and got back into the mortgage game, buying my own place before being completely priced out of the Sydney market. As it was I’ve moved to the very outskirts of the universe to do it, my commute to the office in the center of Sydney takes two hours door to door, with just over an hour and a half of that being on a train. No matter, I reasoned, the trip is comfortable and gives me time to study, the results of which will enable me to get a job away from the corporate city life in the future. The kids aren’t young anymore, they are old enough to travel to and from school independently, and I’m lucky enough to have shorter work hours that mean I still leave and arrive at home at the same sort of times that many of my friends that work close to home do anyway. 

It was an awesome plan, I’d lined up all my ducks in a row, I was in a relationship but still independent, money would be tight but I was fully in control of my life. No more landlords, no more moving, no more stress for an uncertain future. The future was here, finally I could take some time to kick back and enjoy life a little. My backyard is my own little bush oasis, I could hang pictures on the walls in my home, I could build a vegetable garden. Sure it’s a long way away from the city but I’m a mountain girl at heart anyway, my soul is at peace out there, it’s a place I love going home to and the kids love it too.

Now the last time I thought I had finally reached a position like that was when the kids were a lot younger and had gone away with their father on a holiday for two whole weeks. Rather than despair at the emptiness I decided to invest in myself, telling the naturopath I booked that it was my time to finally look at myself and my health and get everything in order – for me. I was a single, working mum but life had settled down into a regular, manageable routine, and it was time to factor in some self care. Two days later I got the news that my ex had broken his leg in multiple places, I needed to fly out to the remote location he was in and bring the kids home, and look after them for the next several months on my own, he was out of action. I’m just lucky I managed to hold onto my job and pay my rent during that time, and needless to say my stress related issues I had been determined to tackle doubled overnight. We all survived though. Just.

I know you know where this is going, the writing was always on the wall wasn’t it? Here I was thinking similar things, not having learnt yet that life is not like that, well not mine anyway. No sooner than I had committed to the purchase of a small, three bedroom house on the edge of the earth that was just perfect for us, and just affordable for me, feeling quietly just a little bit proud of my complete independence, I found out that I was pregnant.