Going 12 days over your due date means you have too much time to think.
This is because you were, of course, more or less prepared a good two weeks in advance.
It also gave you too much time to clean. Parts of the house that have never been cleaned before, even. Of course, this is all a distant memory now.
[Hang on, I think I hear my Mistress’s voice now. 62 words. Something of a record.]
Anyway. What you were mostly thinking about was childbirth mortality statistics. From a time before modern medicine held sway.
One in four births ended in somebody dying? Was that the mother, the baby or both? You found yourself musing. Did more mothers die or did more babies die?
Were there more deaths of mothers for first babies or was it pretty evenly spread out?
Did the one in four include deaths actually while giving birth or from complications afterwards.
What about animals? Are their death rates comparable, or were some of the deaths due to interference from pre-modern doctors?
Then you would recall that there are depictions? Descriptions? Of Caesarians being performed in Roman times. Which had cheered you up until you were told that, of course, the woman always died.
[Hang on, I think I hear my Mistress’s voice calling. 140 words. Hurrah!]
Anyway. All this goes to explain why you are enthusiastically in favour of hospital births rather than home births. Feeling comfortable is less important to you than feeling safe.
Having an induction, then, suits you down to the ground as it means that you get to spend the entire labour wrapped in the four walls of your own special security blanket. Apart from the bit where they send you out for a walk.
Actually you nearly missed out on the induction. Your appointment was booked for 12 noon, but you woke on the morning of the 2nd at 6am feeling distinct tightenings. Which didn’t go away.
However, neither did they get any worse, and so you ordered your cab for 11am and had a leisurely, if not terribly comfortable, sit in a traffic jam, thankfully enlivened by the chatty driver’s reflections on Russo-Somali relations, women and the best way to drive around the line of cars in order to get you to the hospital on time (he succeeded. You tipped him heavily).
The midwife was unimpressed by your tightenings and so decided to apply the gel anyway.
She was also unimpressed by your claims to have arrived at the hospital last time 9cm dilated. This, on reflection, might have been a mistake. But then how were any of you supposed to know that the miracle goo would succeed so well that while you were on your post-application mandatory brisk walk taking in the sights and boutiques of Chelsea and attempting to make polite conversation with your husband, you were also contending with full on labour? Apart from anyone who had been around for your first labour, of course.
[Hang, on, I think I hear my Mistress’s voice. 300 odd words there. Not bad.]
Well, you assume that’s what it was, as it was only an hour and not much more intensity after you arrived back at the hospital than your waters broke and you were found to be 8cm ready.
4cm is when they are supposed to transfer you to labour ward. And give you access to the gasnair. Childbirth tip number one: never smile politely at midwives when you in labour and they ask you how you are doing. They tend to assume you are not in that much pain really. Even though the only things keeping you sane are feeling your husband’s leg pressed firmly against the small of your back, concentrating very hard on the same two paragraphs of a book entitled Ravished! , squeezing your husband’s hand very hard at intermittent intervals and whispering viciously at your husband when he makes a joke in the middle of a contraction.
B, you will gather, was a very necessary part of your pain management strategy.
Your second childbirth tip is never try to stab a labouring woman with a needle.
Back in the days of pregnancy you had agreed to give certain samples to a tissue bank in order to aid the study of various conditions relating to problematic pregnancies. It seems they had missed getting one vial of blood and so had tracked you down and were actually poised over your vein when you felt that very distinctive gushing from down below.
And then all hell broke loose.
Because GODDAMMIT but it really hurt after that. I mean OW!
You screamed, in fact. Quite a lot. The research doctor ran away*****.
In spite of which, they were still surprised to find how advanced you actually were***, although once they had, they were also quite concerned to get you onto the bed for transfer to the birthing room. They didn’t, apparently, want you deliver the baby in the 100 metres of corridor between the ward and your single bedded sanctuary.
In fact, it was another hour and a half before you gave birth. Thank you once again the gasnair. You didn’t feel it actually made the pain much more bearable this time, but it did help to regulate your breathing. And give you something to bite down on.
You have never previously appreciated how important it is to have something to bite down on when medical things are happening without adequate pain relief. Although you seem to have buggered your jaw up again. Which is a shame as last time you only got rid of the clickiness and tendency to find that your jaw had become dislocated in the mornings by having your mouth comprehensively mauled in order to get your wisdom teeth out.
So the Comet, when she did arrive, arrived very quickly. Total official labour time, 2 hours and thirty minutes (which is when you returned to the hospital from your walk and mentioned that you thought, tentatively, you might be in labour). Total actual labour time, five hours. Total time since any evidence of any kind of contractions, 13 hours.
And that difference, in the endgame in particular, is curious. Because you have always rather assumed that the reason why the Star had to be hoiked out ignominiously by the doctors is because you didn’t realise how hard you had to push. Until someone in a white coat came and shouted “PUSH!” very loudly in your ear.
Whereas this time, you hardly pushed at all. Once, in fact. To slither the body out after the head had emerged*, which it would have done at that point whether you wanted it to or not. At this moment** you understood how it is that women end up caught short on the toilet.
In fact, looking back, you wonder whether you went into the final stages of labour at all with the Star. Because it simply didn’t hurt that much with him.
[Hang on, I think I hear the doorbell. That’ll be my mother then.]
But on balance you will take a short labour over a gentle labour any day. It makes the post birth euphoria that much more satisfying. Nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that you had at the gasnair again while they stitched you up****, but definitely to do with being able to properly enjoy the buzz of quietly chatting with B as he carried your daughter around the room, although the dinner jazz segment he found on Jazz FM was also particularly soothing. You were also uplifted by the artwork and would like to commend the subconscious of whoever commissioned the very vagina-in-flower like portrayal off strawberries nestling on a hanky that sat opposite you while your legs were very much akimbo in the stirrups.
But a short labour also means that when that wears off, which is sometime around the moment that you notice that your toes are still, a number of hours later*******, covered in blood and you really need to piss, you still feel remarkably spry.
A bit too spry, actually, given that when you finally made it onto the ward you were not nearly tried enough to ignore the five women who had had Caesarians and whose babies, therefore, were not as tired out as yours was and therefore cried all night. Not to mention the fact that you were right next to the birthing rooms, and could hear every yell. Especially from the woman who has only just made it to the hospital and who had, apparently, collapsed just inside the front doors and was subsequently wheeled, howling with a particularly disconcerting Doppler effect, at a brisk trot through the entire length of the hospital five minutes after you had finally managed to drift off.
[Hang on, I think I hear my Mistress’s voice. No idea how many words that was. Thought I had it there]
But in the end, you darkly suspect that the problem you would have with a third child****** is not whether to go for long and gentle or short and sharp, but being confronted by a choice between birthing at home without the aid of a midwife, who will have come and gone away again when she sees you are not in sufficient pain to growl at her when she asks you how you are and giving birth in a taxi. Or on the bus. As you will again have misjudged how much pain you are in until it is too late.
Better keep the third child hypothetical then.
**Well, ok, perhaps not that very moment.
***Really, I mean it, do not smile at the midwives while in labour. Although at this point you really really weren’t.
****Childbirth tip number three. Never ignore the bit of the antenatal classes which involve perineal massage. Regarding which, isn’t YouTube a wonderful thing?
*****For the record, though, you had her paged the next day and she came and got her blood from not only you, but also B, so that’s your bit for medical science completed then.
*******Childbirth tip number four. Do not try to hurry the woman stitching up your delicate undercarriage. Remember what you might be wanting to use it for later and appreciate her artistry.
[So at 12 hours that only took nearly as long to write as it did for you to actually give birth.]