How we survive – My Birthing Story

05/02/2020

There are certain things that cannot be described in words. One of them is childbirth. I have read somewhere that the pain during childbirth is the second worst pain after burning. People have also told me that the birth of their children has been the most touching moment in their lives. When I see a woman giving birth I ask myself – how on earth does mankind survive? A simple answer would be – nobody knows what to expect on their first child. But how do you end up being a mother of one+ like myself and so many other women on the planet? So here is my birthing story.

The Miracle begins

I had a fantastic first pregnancy. It didn’t take us long to conceive. It was absolutely planned and perfect timing. Right after our wedding and honeymoon. Apart from a little queasiness at the beginning I didn’t have any of the typical pregnancy symptoms. The public maternity service in Ireland was brilliant and I felt well looked after in the Dublin Coombe Hospital. We didn’t find out if we were having a boy or a girl and were looking forward to our very special surprise.

The Elephant in the Room

So all in all I felt amazing. That was mostly physical though. Mentally it was a bit of a challenge for me getting used to that big change that was about to happen. Whilst looking forward to being a mammy and embracing every moment of the pregnancy, fear kept creeping in. There were lots of different fears and worries. The big one that kept me awake at night and obviously the first one I had to face was giving birth. There are a lot of things in your life that you can avoid out of fear. Delivering your baby is not one of them.

Miracle behind a Wall

No matter how much information I gathered or how many people I asked, no one was able to tell me what giving birth would be like for me. It was a two-faced fear. On the one hand I was excitingly waiting for the big day that was the due date. On the other hand I wanted to push it as far away as possible. Sometimes I almost felt like being in a state of panic. I had that beautiful little miracle inside me that I couldn’t wait to meet. But the moment when this was eventually going to happen felt so unreachable. Or at least the pain and suffering that I would have to go through to get there felt like a heavy burden on my consciousness.

No Way back

When labour eventually started I became once more aware that there was no turning back. Well, not there was ever an option or even the wish to turn back anyway. In theory I knew everything. How to breathe, at what stage happens what and what I could use for pain relief. I thought at the time that I was approaching birth with an open mind and was flexible with my birthing plan. My husband on the other hand knew right from the start that I had made up my mind how I wanted things to happen and that I wasn’t a bit flexible.

Procrastination stops here

The date for my induction was already set. I really didn’t want to be induced and so I was determined to get baby out beforehand. When labour started the evening before, I surprisingly felt calm. I was already overdue by 10 days and I knew procrastination was no longer an option if I wanted a natural birth. It was like coming to terms with something that had eaten away at me for so long. Now it was time to stand up and fight it. Or in my case – focus on what was lying ahead and that I had been preparing for for 9 months.

The Monster showing its Face

When the first mild contractions started, I got an idea of the pain I was dealing with. Finally, the invisible monster had started showing its face (no, not the baby yet!). I remember feeling quite confident that I could handle an even stronger level of that type of pain. What I didn’t know and only learned in the hospital was that the real monster hadn’t even come out yet (again, not talking about the baby!).

Imagination vs. Reality

I have to admit that I was overwhelmed when the real pain kicked in. I couldn’t really focus on anything that I had learned in the numerous antenatal classes. Or at least I couldn’t do so consciously. Looking back I am amazed how most of the things somehow happened naturally. So I must have done something right. Well, the result, our beautiful baby boy, who was born after only 5 hours of active labour and without major pain relief is the best proof.

A “Vicious“ Cycle

And here comes what I consider the first big paradox. Battered and tired from giving birth, still remembering what the pain felt like (no, you don’t forget!), I knew I was going to do it again. Something I rationally couldn’t explain at all. I had gone through the worst pain I had ever experienced and was glowing with happiness. Still I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Even if someone had offered to hand me the baby just like that. For some reason it had to happen the way it did. It just felt right.

And I was going to do it again. About 18 months after our son was born, I became pregnant again. Another absolutely wanted and deliberately made decision. And again, there was the fear of giving birth. I actually think that the fear was even bigger the second time around knowing what was coming.

Entering the Ring as a Pro

Giving birth the second time I was what you would call a pro. More preparation classes under my belt and thanks to them with my breathing techniques perfected. The big change compared to the first time was that I was still conscious when entering the delivery suite and not in some sort of pain delirium. I didn’t get carried away by the pain like the last time and did well breathing the contractions away. My husband and I were even joking about having a third baby when I started active labour. Maybe it was the laughing gas after all…

Be careful what you ask for

It is a myths though that childbirth becomes easier on the second one. Maybe quicker, but not easier. Not for me anyway. In other words the pain was as horrendous as I remembered it from the first time. I was convinced that I would pass out if my body couldn’t handle it. Only to find out that it didn’t do me that favour. I was amazed of what I was capable of and what strength lay dormant inside me. So was my husband when he said I could squeeze his hand as tightly as I wanted. He told me afterwards that he thought I had broken it.

A Flicker of Regret

He didn’t wait till afterwards however, to ask me if I could still imagine, in that very moment of tremendous pain, to go for another baby. He must have felt quite safe with me crippled with pain and the midwife focussing on monitoring the little reason of my suffering. At that stage I was close to a breakdown from exhaustion and not even sure if I wanted to keep going with this one. So the answer was no. What had I been thinking to do that to myself?

Nature is smart

Very shortly after the lowest moment of my birthing experience, our second little miracle was born. I couldn’t quite believe that I had made progress so fast and unexpectedly. It might sound strange, but the second our daughter was out and safe I knew it had been worth it. I was still shaken up by the physical impact of the delivery, but a cocktail of endorphins came just in time to offset that. It is hard to describe without sounding corny, but the emotions that overcame me holding her were just so incredibly amazing. Instinctively I had that sense of wanting to protect her. And my husband’s rather sarcastic question that I had answered with no only an hour before, already I changed my mind on. Yes, I would do it again. I guess this is exactly how mankind survives.

The biggest Paradox of them all

This was about 4 months ago. The other week our little baby turned around by herself for the first time. Whilst enjoying seeing her grow, I find it hard how time flies. Sometimes I would just like to stop the clock and keep her from growing. With each developmental step she is gaining more independence. Even at that early stage I can see how this is literally moving her further and further away from me. Hopefully into leading a self-contained life one day. This to me is the biggest paradox of them all. As a mother I want my children to grow and become independent. On the other hand I  would love to keep them around forever.

4 Comments

  1. Rebecca

    Lovely to read. I can imagine the journey you were on and two lovely children as part of the journey.

    • Sylvia

      Thank you :-)! A journey definitely worth going!

  2. Kati

    Das hat mir ja glatt Pipi in die Augen getrieben!!!! Eine sehr schoene Geschichte und irgendwie ermundernt fuer das was auf mich zukommt. Eins kann ich mit Siherheit jetzt schon bestaetigen….der bald-Papa wird durch meinen Händedruck sehhhhr leiden!!!! 🤣
    Weiter so Sylvi! Freu mich auf deine nächste Geschichte!

    • Sylvia

      Ganz lieben Dank! Freut mich, dass du das so siehst! Denn abschreckend soll die Story ja auf keinen Fall sein für jemanden, der es noch vor sich hat. Aber die Geburt ist so ein kleiner Bruchteil von dem was danach kommt. Und wie geschrieben – so was von wert!

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