Through each of my pregnancies i had a little saying that kept me going when I was worried about something. In my first pregnancy it was “women in Africa walk solo through the desert and deliver babies on their own. I can do this.”. My second mantra was incredibly different.
The first time around I went to calm birth classes at the suggestion of my husband who had heard it was really great to have a natural birth. Of course he had ! He wasn’t thinking about delivering the baby. We went along to the two day course and it started by sitting in a large circle. They nearly lost me at that point. We had to say why we were there. Everyone in the circle talked about wanting to have a natural birth and wanting to really enjoy the experience on some level. I was next to last and I said I wanted a backup plan but my preference was to take every drug known to modern medicine. No-one laughed. They all looked at me like I was crazy. As far as I was concerned I was not the crazy one.
The premise of calm birth was actually extremely rational. They explained what happened during labour. At 42 it was the first time anyone had ever explained what the physical stages of labour were and what your body needed to do it well. (Deets here: if you are interested http://www.calmbirth.com.au/ ) . I was shocked by how little I knew and how nearly every woman I knew had been through this process but no-one talked about it.Like ever. The only time it ever came up one of my high school friends said you might do a poo during labour. (Might ! ummmm how about 99% chance you will.) The course connected me with the experience I was about to go through and it gave me some tools to deal with if I couldn’t take the drugs so I felt more confident. “women in Africa do this drug free all the time”
On the actual day of Lily’s birth I was induced and she came so quickly there was no time for drugs. I used all my calm birth powers and just like a woman from Africa gave birth drug free. That’s were the similarities ended.
My water broke late and Lily had meconium in her lungs. She didn’t cry when she was born and after a terrifying period I heard a nurse say its been five minutes. Five minutes without crying. Lily was whisked off the NICU and spent 6 weeks there. She is now a healthy happy little girl but that experience changed my life in so many ways.
Women in Africa don’t have NICUs and if I wasn’t at the top hospital for new born care in NSW, RPA, I have no doubt that my story would be very different. There are literally people who go to work every day that look like the rest of us but are really angels in disguise. A team of ten worked on Lily for the first eight hours of her life. There is nothing more unnerving than to watch the doctor working on your new baby pace up and down next to the crib. While she was in complete control medically, her body language revealed the intense stress she was experiencing, We didn’t know it then but they had saved Lily’s life.We are so lucky to have access to these talented and beautiful people.
My mantra for Charlie’s birth reflected all of my fears and anxieties at going through birth again. Rabbits are brave. Charlie’s birth had its own challenge but he too is safe and well. The mantra proved to be true. Rabbits who are small and want to do things , can do them, if they are very very brave, and so can we.