Is childbirth really so dramatic?
All childbirth is a trauma to some degree. I can’t imagine it’s ever ‘easy’ but maybe some could be described as comparatively easy.
When I drove my wife to the hospital for the birth of our first I was in a pretty chill mood. Our friends already had kids and there was no reason to think it would be a problem for us. I was having a bit of a laugh with the midwives when we got there. I was excited. My wife was in a bit of discomfort but nothing terrible. Well, the night went on and the pain got worse for my wife who really never shows any pain if she feels it. I saw her face when the first real contractions came and I knew she was in some real agony. Still, this is to be expected I thought and I was dutifully supportive and sympathetic. My wife asked eventually for a spinal at about 3 AM (we’d been in since 10 PM) and they performed it with some simplicity, I went off for a brew, came back and my wife looked absolutely blissed out and chill. “Well, this is just cool,” I thought.
The night went on and the pain got worse for my wife who really never shows any pain if she feels it. I saw her face when the first real contractions came and I knew she was in some real agony. Still, this is to be expected I thought and I was dutifully supportive and sympathetic. My wife asked eventually for a spinal at about 3 AM (we’d been in since 10 PM) and they performed it with some simplicity, I went off for a brew, came back and my wife looked absolutely blissed out and chill. “Well, this is just cool,” I thought.
We even got some sleep.
At about 7 AM I woke in the (hard) chair in the delivery suite to the midwife saying it was time to start pushing. We were on the home stretch. Well the pushing started, I held one of my wife’s legs up because she couldn’t feel or move it herself. The pushing commenced and went on and on and on. At this point, I’m starting to realize that this is pretty hard for my wife You don’t see people on a hard workout in the gym put this much effort in. Three hours later and still no baby. It just wouldn’t make the last ‘u-bend,’ so they called in the surgeons for a cesarean. I was just about to don my scrubs when somebody said, “I think we can do this here with forceps.” This sounded like a great idea. I was extremely naive. So the bed lost its last third and my wife had her legs in stirrups and I’m thinking, “Wow, this is quite involved. It’s not like what you see on TV.”
More pushing. Some serious work going on between my wife’s legs. This petite french surgeon has the forceps around the babies head and she is pulling with all her strength, her arms showing the muscle as she leans back. Eventually, a baby’s head appeared and I felt that rush of bewilderment. It was finally real. So amazing. I kept telling my wife: “You’ve done it.” I announced the gender when baby came fully out, except I got it wrong and said boy. My wife corrected me and said girl. We all laughed. That was the last laugh for a while. I was asked if I wanted to cut the cord, of course, I do! What doting, proud father wouldn’t?
I went to the doctor at the ‘business end’ of my wife and I snipped that rubbery bacon rind like cord and as it dropped from my view my eyes were drawn to my wife’s private parts. A cut had been made. Blood was literally gushing from her.
It reminded me of an overflowing bath. Suddenly, all joy was gone. I went to my newborn daughter who was lying on my wife’s chest and I tried to talk but my heart had started pumping ice around my body. I told everyone I was going to pass out and just as they sat me on the chair I did exactly that.
You don’t see people on a hard work out in the gym put this much effort in.
You know when you wake in the morning and you don’t know what day it is, you don’t know if it’s Saturday or Monday? Do I have to go to work? This is the exact feeling I had as they shook me awake in that chair, for one moment everything was fine, then I was back in a nightmare. There were twice as many staff now in the room. They were rushing quietly and professionally around my wife who I noticed was milk pale, her hand gripping the sheet, a mask on her face. A surgeon was working between her legs and a midwife was massaging her stomach. They couldn’t stop the bleeding. There was a poker face to most of them but one of the student nurses looked visibly shaken. I was terrified. The head nurse knelt in front of me and told me they were trying to stop the bleeding, did I want to hold my daughter. I held her, she hadn’t yet cried and she just looked up at me with her deep, dark, beautiful newborn eyes. She never made a sound. I told her it was going to be okay, I kept telling her but really I was telling myself of course. The actual reality was I just didn’t know. I’ve never been so scared.
Okay, I’ve gone on enough. Sorry. Thank you for making it to the end if you did. Yes, births can be incredibly dramatic. My wife lost almost 3 liters of blood. Half of her entire blood supply. Lose that at the roadside in an accident and you will die. She lost most of it in 10 minutes. She was mostly unaware of the severity of the situation as it was happening. It only dawned on her after the doctors told her. I could smell blood for a week after. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it for months without crying. I have tears in my eyes now as I write. We have a happy ending, of course, and I realize this and I’m so thankful for it. I think maybe I have some kind of PTSD from it but it’s okay.
We had our second daughter 2 months ago. That’s a different story, though.
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