14 July 2008

So soon she spoke

This morning was an unpleasant mixture of denial and vomit – denial over the fact that I was feeling ill again; vomit for obvious reasons.

Having told friends, my family and colleagues that I’m finally over morning sickness, I’m not really sure where to go from here (the toilet, I guess). But I hold out hope that this is just a minor slip – a reminder of what I’m leaving behind rather than an omen of what the next five months could hold.

We have an appointment on Thursday with a midwife, midwifery being a standard practice in this country. From what I understand, they are like professional tour guides of the prenatal and birth-giving journey, accompanying you at every stage to offer support and advice until the big day has come and gone, and even a bit beyond.

They won’t actually deliver the baby, but I’m happy for an experienced obstetrician to do that bit. I know that midwives are licensed to deliver babies in Canada, but qualifications aside, the existence of two very different types of healthcare professionals fulfilling the same role at once seems like an unnecessary and confusing distinction to have to make.

It would be like if homeopaths were suddenly in the business of doing brain surgery. I’ll take the guy (or gal) who went to school specifically to tinker in that area, thanks. I’m sure there’s something inherently prejudiced about this, but I’ll take ignorance and an epidural over that uncertainty any day.

Actually, I’ve decided that until someone can adequately describe what the pain of birth-giving is actually like (my mother said unhelpfully: It’s like someone kicking a football at you. Down there.), I’m going to hold off on the scary, spine-piercing pain management drugs on offer thankyouverymuch.

But if any of you out there know and could help me out with the analogy, I'd be truly grateful. Comments are now open. (Just kidding, they're always open.)


Make!Do! said...

Honest to Jebus, a mere six months later I can't even remember, those nice hormones that wash away the pain memories have come and washed out the pain. Pushing was hard work and where I really got stuck but it was mostly work, you know? And I did 3.5 hours, WAY more than most women have to do. I did get an epidural at 8 cm and never regretted it one bit, it was so awesome. Before that there were some crazy times crouching in the bathroom on the tile floor and no goddamned, I don't want the bouncy ball. Labour was something I dreaded so very much but honestly, it's not THAT bad. Honest!

pk said...

don't encourage people to tell you their birth stories: are you crazy? After Frannie's mum had the epidural, the atmosphere improved markedly, as she was very relaxed (or 'off her tits' if you prefer) and it all went swimmingly.
The function of a midwife is and always has been to deliver babies as far as I know, a function which has been usurped by the boys in white: they are generally highly qualified and experienced so it's a bit unfair to compare them to homeopaths, don't you think? :)

Anonymous said...

A poor analogy maybe, though I don't think midwives are qualified to dispense with the big drugs and epidural, are they? Which it sounds like I might need. And what about complications that require those suctions and clamps and whatever other scary gear? From what I understand, midwives can deliver a baby so long as there are no complications which might involve knowing far more about medicine than they do. Or did I get this wrong again?

Birth stories are one thing, but my quandry remains the same: what the heck does a contraction feel like? What's the big mystery? Is it like a knife stabbing you repeatedly in the abdomen or is it more like someone is tearing you apart? Surely women must retain some memory of the sensation. I plan to write it all down the second I'm finished pushing so that I can help clear it up once and for all.

Anonymous said...

The pain of contractions was so, so different than I expected it to be. The closest I heard it described was that it was like really bad menstrual pains, times a bazillion. I kept expecting to feel "contracting": by which I mean an intermittent squeezing pain in my abdomen, but there was none of that. It literally feels like menstrual pain, only to such a degree that the world disappears.

make!do!'s experience sounds very very similar to mine; I had an epidural sometime after 7cm, and I went through the pushing stage for a little more than 3 hours. 3 hours is a long time, as she said, and in my case the Dr had to get the vacuum out. Pushing was hard work but not nearly as painful as the rest before the epidural.

The pain was bearable until about 7cm, and at that point I felt like vomiting and the world turned muffled and surreal. Some will say it's best not to ask what the pain was like, but I preferred to know. I waited for "contractions" to start for a whole day after they started, because I didn't really know what to expect.

My labour started around 4pm on Wednesday, I went into the hospital about 7pm Thursday, and Logan was born around 9am Friday.

But remember, it's true what they say: every experience is different. Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...


Don't be a hero. Take the drugs.

Anonymous said...


If you want to, I mean.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Robin, that does actually orient me somewhat, even though it's still difficult to imagine a period pain I couldn't manage, and to the extent that I would be begging someone to put a big needle/tube in my spine.

It's not so much that I'm trying to be a hero as I'm more afraid of the epidural than I am of intense pain. At the moment anyway. It will be heroic if I manage to ask for the drugs, and I expect nothing short of a parade and a day named after me when I finally do.

Anonymous said...

You'll know when it's time to ask for relief, and it won't be hard to ask for it. I get the apprehension about the "needle in your spine" thing, I had so much anxiety about the epidural - but really, it's nothing. I didn't even feel it. The worst part of the epidural is having to bend yourself forward over your giant belly and sitting still through contractions while the anaesthesiologist puts it in. And as for taking it out: I had to ask when the nurse was done. Didn't feel a thing, even though by then I was up and walking around.

The epidural is a minor, minute part of the whole process. Anyone could have spent hours telling me this before the event and I wouldn't have believed them. I was terrified of it.

Best advice I garnered through prenatal classes, and my mantra throughout the process: "This is finite. It will end." That goes for the epidural too, if that's what you choose to do. There are other methods of pain relief, too, like gas (which I wanted but the hospital was "out" that day) and Demerol (I had some of that too but it makes you sleep so it's no good for the pushing stage; it also drugs the baby).

Freida Bee said...

Hi Friday. This is my first time here, but this question is right up my alley. I have four children. I got demerol in my first birth because I also ended up being induced after slow progression. (Wise hint there. Don't get all excited at the first signs of labor- as I did. Rest as long as possible until you couldn't deny it if you tried.)

I had attempted a home birth with a midwife, but went to the hospital my first time, but I did have my other three children naturally at home.

Robin's description of the pain was what I expereince, menstrual cramps times a million. And yes, they are bad, but something helpful for me to remember was that no one contraction would ever last more than a minute, with a break in the middle. You can handle anything when it's just for a minute or so.