Pride and Pregnancy

26 Jul

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman carrying her first child does not want to hear horror stories about other women’s labours. Or so I thought….

Before I reached a stage in my life where I contemplated having a child, I couldn’t think of anything more horrendous than talking or thinking about someone else’s labour – let alone re-living every painful detail. For me, there is a reason no one gives birth publically and it is for that reason that the details of it should remain equally shrouded in mystery.

But then I got pregnant. And I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to know. And the worse it was the deeper I delved. One of my best friends has two children and as far as I can tell having those children involved two of the most traumatic labours in the history of childbirth. They seemed to last for about two weeks and things happened to her that I can’t even bring myself to write down. Listening to her story was like being in my very own hospital melodrama. I was hooked.

I also did this with my sister, a mum of four. Thankfully my sister is a baby delivering machine and her four children popped out into the world within a few hours of her waters breaking. With no drugs or drama she was back home two hours later mowing the lawn. She also said, “it wasn’t that bad. It hurts, but its ok”. Which must be true or she wouldn’t have repeated this three times. I’m praying she wasn’t lying to make me feel better and I’m praying we share the same labour-genes.  She can’t get the good hair and the quickly dilating cervix.

So when I got a call from my pregnancy yoga teacher inviting both my husband and I to hear the birth stories of two new mums from the group, I was quite looking forward to it. Hubby was not.

Partners, if they wanted to come, were asked to arrive at 7.15 following our yoga session. There was no question that hubby would come, but as the time got closer I started panicking that it would only be my hubby that arrived. Cue me frantically asking the women next to me if their baby daddies were coming too. Luckily a few turned up. Phew, we’re not the only weird couple eager to hear details of a stranger’s labour.

We take our seats on the floor as the two new mums, a dad and two babies take their seats on the podium. Well it’s actually a sofa, but as we sit on the floor it feels a bit like that. Hubby comes and sits next to me as we suddenly find ourselves squashed into a corner right next to mum number one (she arrived first so has that title). Hubby is 6ft 3, there are no cushions left to lean on. His only option is a hard chair leg. It’s going to be a long night.

The stories begin. I’m captivated, eager to hear more as mum number one describes contractions, the urge to push and the pain in more detail than I’ve ever heard. Hubby looks as white as a sheet as he turns to me and says, “I will probably faint”.

He also looks like he’s about to faint as mum number one proceeds to take out her breast, feed her child and then change child’s dirty nappy two inches from his face. I don’t think he’ll be coming again.  

As we leave I feel ok. I’ve accepted it’s going to be the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced, but I also feel more in control of it the more stories I hear. Hubby looks petrified. My suggestion that we watch One Born Every Minute is met with a look of utter terror. Actually I’d agree. Listening to someone’s story is one thing, seeing it in all its gory detail is another.

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