I have a confession to make. No idea if I’ve already made it because I have massive baby brain, but here it is: I was always, always, no doubts, no-talking-me-out-of-it going to have an elective caesarean.
Use the cleaver, spare the beaver was my thing. I even had the conversation with my doctor before starting IVF when she was giving me names of obstetricians. I said, “At what point should I ask the obstetrician about elective caesareans? Because I am definitely, definitely having one.”
She looked quite bemused by this, paused and then answered, “Well, you might change your mind about that. When you fall pregnant, something funny happens. You might want to wait and see.”
“I know I won’t,” I said confidently. “Because I cannot – repeat cannot – give birth naturally. I JUST CANNOT DO IT.”
“Wait and see,” she repeated. “You just never know.”
I got out of there rolling my eyes. She had no idea. I wasn’t too posh to push, I was too downright petrified to push and nothing, but nothing, was going to sway me from the decision I had already made.
Then I got pregnant.
And a funny thing DID happen. Within days I had suddenly, inexplicably, unbelievably, amazingly decided that no, I didn’t want an elective caesarean after all. I was woman, hear me roar, and dammit if I wasn’t going to give this vaginal birth caper a red hot go. It was weird how MUCH of a 360 I did. I have no idea what to put this down to, or the fact that I suddenly also had no fear. None. Hormones? Maybe.
I’d watched my sister give birth – all 26 odd hours of it, from waters breaking to the birth of my gorgeous niece, who’s now nearly 8 – and what had been one of the most special and amazing days in my life (but abstract in the sense that it hadn’t really swayed me from my elective caesarean decision) suddenly meant so much more. I suddenly started remembering everything about that day and a little voice in my head, for the first time ever, started saying, You Can Do It Too. Or at least TRY.
Now I’m due in three weeks, and I’m thinking and talking and reading and meditating and visualising about nothing but Giving Birth.
Mr Chick and I are two sessions into a three-week bespoke birth education program with Karin, the lovely RPA birth educator, who sits around our coffee table once a week, pulls scary items from her bag of tricks (forceps really COULD double as salad servers, people), and has told us just about everything we need to know about pushing something the size of a watermelon out of my nether regions.
My friends have also been ringing off the hook with their birth stories. We’ve talked about induction and syntocinon drips and Tens machines and accupressure points and sweeping the membranes and perineal massage and breathing and panting and using gas and not using gas and epidurals and episiotomies versus tearing and best positions for birth and what might happen if I do end up having a c-section after all.
The fear has come back, a bit. Now it’s close. But I also feel strangely chilled about it all. Maybe because there’s nothing I can do about it, I can’t control what is going to happen, and I have to hold onto the fact that everything will be alright. (And with any luck, me and the chicklet can avoid the salad servers.)
Best labour and birth tip? I’ve heard about JuJu Sundin’s TicTac distraction technique, having an unlimited supply of icy poles, packing my bag with Fantails for the midwives, using affirmation cards, taking endless hot showers, baths, using heatpacks etc. Got one for me? Something that really worked for you? I’d LOVE to hear it in the comments.