- Most women "Ohhhh Squeeeeee! Cluck cluck cluck!"
- Most men: "Oh wow, nice!" (end conversation)
- Existing Grandparents: (Faces light up in utter joy) "Oh how wonderful! What a wonderful, special time!" (ie. they have completely forgotten what its really like)
- Existing Dads: "Oh right, enjoy your sleep while you still can."
I believe it is the prerogative of mums to tell their horror stories but to be honest, I still went into it with very little clue as to what to expect. My mum had always told me that she was in labour for 24 hours with me, so I assumed that meant there had been agonising pain for all that time. The fact is that the agony, while still several hours worth, is only part of that so it's not nearly as terrifying as everyone makes it sound.
As I wrote previously, my waters broke early last Sunday morning. Once we returned from the hospital, I puttered around all morning and even managed a sleep for a little while. Contractions started in earnest at about 1pm, starting out quite mild but gradually increasing until we decided to head to hospital at about five o'clock because I couldn't face the idea of having a really nasty one in the car.
On arrival at the hospital they took us into a room in the pregnancy assessment unit to assess whether I was progressed enough to go into the birth suite. 3cm dilated meant that I was, but before we were moved I had my first pain-relief - sterile water injections in my back, either side of my spine to help ease the pain there. When they tell you this stings they are completely right - I felt like I'd been stung by four wasps on my lower back! The stinging only lasted a minute or so though and when it faded, the contractions were much less painful, at least for a while.
The birth suite rooms at the Mater are quite comfortable. During the time there we were looked after by two different midwives - the first lady I don't remember much about since she was only there for a couple of hours and I was pretty out of it, but later the lovely Iraqi lady who was to later be with us all the way to delivery started her shift. She had some brilliant stories about fathers passing out, but thankfully Mr Ang made it all the way through in an upright manner.
I tried both pethodine and the nitrous oxide gas to try to help the pain, but the pethodine just made be feel very out of it and didn't really seem to dull the pain at all, and the gas certainly didn't make me giggly or distract me much at all. In the end I asked for an epidural because I was already exhausted and could only see the hours of agony stretching ahead. Once the epidural was inserted and working by about 10pm, the pain gradually melted away and I was left with a very numb right leg and partially numb left leg.
The remaining few hours were relatively calm. I had been fitted with a cannula in my arm and was being drip-fed with the chemical to help contractions along, so Mr Ang and I just chatted and waited. At about midnight the midwife decided it was time to start pushing, and 80 rather exhausting minutes later, the little sproutling was born.
At first, he didn't cry much and they took him away from me to suction some fluid from his lungs. I couldn't hold him again for ages because they were worried that he was in respitory distress - he was lying in a humidi-crib whimpering for at least an hour and had a low-grade fever. There was almost a chance that he would be taken to the special care unit, but thankfully he calmed down and we were all taken up to the ward by about 5:30am.
Sproutling was born at 2:21am, weighing 3.074kg (about 6lb 12oz) and 50cm long meaning he was very long and skinny. His head was a normal size though which explains the long pushing phase - I have no idea how people make it through that without pain relief, but I am not sorry in the slightest that I asked for the epidural despite my intentions of a natural labour! I also feel completely pleased with myself that I was able to control things so I ended up with no tears and no stitches at all - something which is apparently quite rare in first-time mums.
In all - not the most pleasant experience but the prize at the end is so worth it!