It is a little over three months since my fierce, marvellously healthy little girl Alexandra took her first halting breaths and I am now ready to admit that her birth was not a good one. It was bad. Moreover, I am ready to admit that it was mostly my fault.
In a bid to provide other expectant mothers with a few pointers on how not to do the birthing thing I thought I’d share with you how I managed to mess up something I’ve thought all my life I’d be really, really good at.
Bury your head in the sand
I am a voracious reader, which means everyone assumed I was doing my homework where the birthing process was concerned. Truth be told, I was so completely and utterly overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of information out there that I did what I normally did when I am confronted with a seemingly insurmountable task – I distracted myself. Instead of immersing myself in all of the scary information available to me, I fiddled about with ridiculous non-information like baby horoscopes and then skipped over the actual birth and newborn childcare chapters to more palatable topics like the introduction of solids. In the meantime I was getting more pregnant by the second and ignoring the fact that the baby was not going to arrive by ringing the doorbell with a neatly packed suitcase.
Go through the motions
I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy, which I attribute largely to my lucky stars, good genes and a slew of hard-praying relatives who more than likely spent most of the nine months wearing down the carpets in their respective homes. This means I got away with doing the bare minimum, namely going for my regimented gynea visits, phoning Discovery to find out which doctors were on their plan so I wouldn’t have to pay in a cent and packing a bag for myself and the baby. I didn’t attend a single prenatal class, do a single stretch or prepare mentally in any way. I also didn’t build a relationship with my doctor. I was just ticking the boxes and by the time I woke up, smelled the imminent morphine drip and called in the help of a doula I was so far along that poor Lucille could’ve had the baby for me and I would still have managed to mess up the proceedings.
Hurry things along
Due to a host of practical concerns, including the fact that my husband would start 16-hour work days on a film within two weeks of my due date and wanted to be around to support me as I adjusted to caring for our newborn, we chose to have an induction. Even as we made the choice and informed our family, I knew it was a mistake. The scheduling of something that should come naturally just felt wrong. I am convinced that the fact that not one of the FOUR inductions they eventually gave me made even an inkling of an impression on my unyielding cervix had a lot to do with the fact that I secretly believed the whole thing to be a farce.
Submit to authority, completely
When it comes to authority, I’ve always been a bit of a goody two-shoes. I was a little teacher’s pet in grade school and still have a latent submissive vibe when it comes to people who speak briskly and take charge. Suffice it to say, I was cowed beyond belief by the business-like doctors and nurses with their monitors and charts. I didn’t even put up a fight when they told me that I had to have a C-section. I just grimaced and nodded and proceeded to have a polite little panic attack on the operating table as they made their merry way toward an early dinner while my husband tried to keep his composure as they pulled a limp little girl from my belly without as much as an explanation as to why she wasn’t being handed to me.
So there you have it – four sure-fire ways to have a bad birth. I realise that a few of the things I am unceremoniously bashing in this article (e.g. inductions, C-sections) will probably have the mommy message boards abuzz with indignation, so let me just say that I am fully aware that what constitutes a good birth for me doesn’t necessarily do so for everybody else. As long as it feels right for you and your baby it’s the way to go for your little team.
As for mine, should we ever choose to add another member I will most certainly try to sidestep these potholes on the way to my ideal birth. In the meantime I will continue to bring up my little trooper with all the tenderness and care I can muster, while simultaneously locating my metaphorical cojones so I won’t feel the need to roll over and play dead when next called upon to roar a being into life.