Captain’s Log: 4 Days To Go: Willingly Wanting Childbirth, But The Pain?

So, how much of a 180 is that!? I remember quite clearly being in Cuba last November, sat round the pool taking in the sun, thinking quite how far away 5/6 months was. I also remember having a mild panic attack at how the hell I was going to cope with labour! The pain, the terror and horror of the unknown, the panic. I would literally lay on the lounger having a mini freak out. Everything in the media tells you that although there is a little miracle at the end of it, you will somehow survive but that indeed it will be excruciating and you may feel like you want to die. Erm, how else are you supposed to react to that? My main questions pretty much all the way through my pregnancy have been, ‘How painful is it/what do contractions feel like?’

I’ve had mothers telling me its awful, dear God make sure you have an epidural ready and waiting for when you can’t take it anymore, all the nightmare stories. But then I’ve also had a few other stories that show a crack in the doom. Caitlin Moran (Chapter 12 of How To Be A Woman) herself tells of the difference between her 1st and 2nd child. Her 1st being delivered in a myriad of pain and trauma. Her 2nd ending with the words just as she’s given birth, ‘That was easy! Why doesn’t anyone tell you it’s so easy!’ I’m no fool, I don’t believe I’m going to be screaming about how easy it is (although I’d love to). I think it probably was easy in comparison to the 1st time she gave birth. But that’s just the problem and part of the tinder that gets the fire going, that you don’t actually know how intense the pain will feel or how you will cope with it and you have no comparison until D-Day! One mum I spoke with told how her 1st child was delivered with an epidural, she felt nothing, had to rely on others to tell her when to push. It was an ok experience, but that feeling of numbness, not pushing hard enough because of course why would you, your body’s not informing you of how urgently you need to bear down. With her second she said she chose not to have an epidural and she was glad that she did. She felt more in tune and in control with her body, she knew when to push,’ of course it hurts but nothing you can’t cope with’ and her labour was shorter (2nd labours can generally be shorter but she attributes this also to knowing what her body needed when). Since then I’ve heard many similar stories and I have chosen to take hope from them. My favourite comment that surpasses all others that it might just be ok, was a midwife at the Lewisham Birthing Centre telling me, ‘you will be ok… just try to enjoy it if you can’.

Just try to enjoy it. You know what? I have anticipation in my belly and who really knows how its all going to go for me, but I am going to allow myself the opportunity to try to enjoy it. I am full of baby but it doesn’t feel like its growing as dramatically as it did in week 37. It’s big. I feel its feet in my right ribs, its bottom popping up to say hello on my left and for the last few nights it feels like its been stretching and head butting my bladder and all other things down that end. Is it trying to escape? Is it following the path of least resistance? It feels right, but it could all still take another 2 weeks. I’ve now had a few false labour moments (more than just Braxton Hicks), I’ve attended my NCT classes, been listening to hypno-birthing, doing pregnancy yoga and I honestly think I’m ready. I’m as ready as I will ever be given all the information around me. And this makes me very happy. Given the way I felt 6 months ago, I find this a surprising place to be in. The pain will be the same but how I cope with it will define how I feel about it all. I’m not saying things may not change on the day, but I’m OK with the idea that it does not have to be a horrific experience.

I am ready for you baby. Bring it on.

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