I have heard a lot of “birth stories” (at the end of every pregnancy yoga class) and none of them seemed to express any sort of fear, shock or panic. All of them seemed to remember pain, but that everything they had learned and read about and listened to had helped them prepare for this “magical” time.
I was pretty certain that no amount of breathing or calming music was going to diminish the pain of two fully formed humans wriggling their way towards my woefully underprepared vagina…
My tale begins on Friday 24th June, almost exactly 8 weeks before I was due to experience the miracle of birth (or the miracle of a planned caesarean in a sterile operating theatre). Brexit panic was rife and I looked like I had stuffed a beach ball up my jumper. With a day off work to start moving house we waited for the keys before getting them at 6pm and standing in the new house for 20 minutes wishing the previous owners had left all their nice stuff.
Parents arrive for the weekend, so begins the relentless cycle of tip, Ikea, paint, repeat.
Before we know it it’s Monday and realisation hits that moving house is not a two day job and I hate all of our stuff…
Monday night I cannot sleep because I am in pain, thus begins the crucial 24 hours.
I wake Jack up, we go to the hospital and wait about 3 hours to see someone. I am reliably informed that, on closer inspection, my uterus is ‘closed for business’ (I am pretty sure those were her exact words)…
Arriving back to a house that seemed to be spawning rubbish like Gremlins, we decide, with the pain having subsided, we need cheering up. In the words of Simon & Garfunkel “when you’re weary, feeling small”…go to Ikea.
After a pretty productive day of Ikea-ing, the tip and buying overpriced paint, Jack goes to get his hair cut as I pop to Sainsbury’s to buy dinner. In the shop I start to feel a bit dodgy, but just assume I am tired and buy some Mars ice creams as a remedy. By the time I get home I realise Mars ice creams aren’t going to cut it.
At about 8pm the pain was pretty bad; one of my best (doctor) friends assures me I am probably just constipated and I have a bath. Jack arrives home, hoists me out of the bath like a slippery pig and expresses disappointment that I haven’t made dinner.
After a few hours of suspected constipation, I can’t sit down, so I try the relaxing breathing we learnt in yoga and, as I calmly close my eyes I feel the pain slowly melt away……HA! No I fucking don’t, it just steadily gets worse…
Eventually I ring a friend to find out what Braxton Hicks are supposed to feel like and just as another spasm hits me I throw the phone at Jack. She tells him to take me to hospital and I think, “I wonder how many people a year are admitted to hospital due to constipation? Will I be in the paper for getting such bad constipation I need to go to hospital? I wonder if they’ll just give me Senokot?”
Our delightful Uber driver, called Jihad (true story), drives us to the emergency entrance and we go back to the Maternity Triage area where we had spent most of our morning. Ikea is a distant memory as a very nice nurse holds my belly and mutters “that feels like contractions”. The doctor tells me I am 4cm dilated and asks what my birth plan was…well my rough plan was to not have them for another 2 months…
The following hours are just bits and pieces but here’s what I do remember:
I google whether they can just pause labour with some sort of magical injection (they can’t by the way).
They stab me in the bum with steroids and then make me SIT on a hard wheelchair.
I insist they remove my machinery three times to let me go for a wee.
At least eight people introduce themselves to me, none of whom I remember.
The anaesthetist is really fit. I don’t think he feels the same about me.
It is SO cold in the operating theatre – I am shivering and crying – chances of impressing fit anaesthetist are shot to shit.
Everyone keeps assuring me the babies will be ok, but I don’t remember ever thinking they won’t be.
I hold Wilf when he has been checked but I don’t actually remember this, I just saw the picture afterwards.
My hand brushes my leg as I am taken away, it feels like a prosthetic limb. I try not to gag.
When I wake up in my windowless, airless cubicle the next day I don’t even realise I have a catheter in (gross but actually super convenient); we go and see the boys in their little boxes.
Wilfred & Sidney Burgess ended up being born at 01.51 and 01.53 on Wednesday 29th June 2016 weighing 3 pounds 3 ounces and 3 pounds 7 ounces. They share a birthday with Nicole Scherzinger and their star sign is Cancer. Apparently this means they “can be vindictive and use emotional manipulation to get their way”…I can confirm that this is true.
NB. Jack wants me to make it clear that he remained cool calm and collected throughout…even “when I was being a pussy”. This is also true.