WARNING – To any of my friends (especially male ones) or family (especially parents) who are reading this – I am about to write about childbirth, private parts, piles, stitches and sex so if you think you will be disturbed by any of the above then do not read any further! If you do choose to continue then don’t say I didn’t warn you!
When I found out I was pregnant, I watched the entire series of One Born Every Minute on 4od. I knew what type of birth I wanted and I had a picture in my mind of what it would be like. Birthing pool, drug-free, natural, me like some kind of wild cave woman getting into various positions to ‘channel’ the pain.
I didn’t however base it on what kind of birth would be suitable for someone with my pain threshold, ie none. I stupidly thought that because I have three tattoos and had managed to get my tongue and nipple pierced I was the human equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator. God knows why – I cry when I have a cold. When I was in early labour I can actually remember telling Dad2BabyInsomniac that I didn’t think I was going to need any drugs.
Famous. Last. Words.
My birth image was shattered as soon as the proper contractions started. It was hell, I was going to try and think of a comparison but I can’t. Hell is the only word for it. Within 30 mins at the hospital I had scrapped my no-drugs plan and had a shot of diamorphine – this slowed my contractions down and meant I needed the hormone drip – this led to them ‘recommending’ I have an epi-dural as I wasn’t ‘coping’ very well. I would have been offended but I’d already realised I wasn’t a human terminator so I started to play the pathetic wimp instead. The poor anaesthetist, he stood there trying to explain the process to me while I was half naked, bawling my eyes out and sucking on gas and air with a bowl of puke sat on my lap. At least I looked so awful he wouldn’t recognise me if I saw him again.
Then the epi-dural kicked in and it was bliss. The pain completely vanished.
Unfortunately so did the image of me throwing myself around the room in crazy positions whilst getting in the zone, the reality was me dead-weighted to the bed, farting. Epi-durals make you fart, or maybe not make you but because you can’t feel your body you have no idea when you’re about to do it, nor can you hold it in. As if labour wasn’t glamorous enough already. Then afterwards, thanks to my episiotomy, piles and an anal fissure, going for a number two honestly felt shards of glass were coming out of my bum – it reduced me to tears every single time I went to the toilet for at least two months. And if I had to experience it then Dad2BabyInsomniac had to hear about it so I guess all good preparation.
Good job sex was off the cards for six weeks.
Then the next part of my plan got shattered as it became apparent that a MAN was going to be delivering Iyla – she had the cord around her neck and all of a sudden things got a bit frantic, she needed to be pulled out with the forceps ASAP. As it turns out the MAN was amazing, he was an extremely tall, extremely camp, Greek guy and he got her out in no time at all. He was however responsible for carrying out the final shattering to my birth illusion and that was the duh duh duhhhh….. episiotomy. The one thing no woman wants to happen to her private parts.
I can remember looking down at him whilst he was stitching me up and seeing his face pouring with sweat, he then asked me if he could put a painkiller up my bum. There had been a certain point in my labour when I had stopped caring what happened to my body, I think it was after the third person had entered the room to try and break my (impossible to break) membranes. Having someone push something into my bumhole was nothing compared to the other intrusive, uncomfortable experiences that I had been though so I told him to go for it.
When he’d finished, he warned me that I might be a ’bit sore for a few days’.
‘A BIT SORE FOR A FEW DAYS’?!!! Bloody men. I have nothing against a man doing the job but I am afraid that unless he has experienced having his private parts cut open to enable a giant pair of metal salad tossers to fit inside and pull out a baby before having it all stitched up again, he doesn’t have the right to tell me how it will feel afterwards. But if he has to say something then he could at least tell me the truth. Which is that - you will barely be able to walk for at least two weeks, you won’t be able to carry your baby up and down the stairs, going to the toilet will reduce you to tears and it will be months before going for a number two will feel ‘normal’ again. Most importantly, he should have told me that there was the possibility that my stitches could come apart.
Because they did - I looked at them when I got home as I was curious and they looked normal, well as normal as stitches in that area surrounded by a metre of black brusing can look. By day three they were starting to split. I told my midwife who told me that it would be ‘highly unlikely’ for that to happen. By day five it had happened and I have spoke to quite a few people who it happened to as well so clearly it’s not that ‘unlikely’. I had to go to the hospital but because the skin / flesh?! was infected it couldn’t be sewn back together so I had to take antibiotics and wait for it to heal naturally.
By week five I had read so many episiotomy horror stories about women who just weren’t having sex because it hurt them so much, I wanted to give it a go to see what the damage was. It hurt but then it was early days so I knew it would, it was a lot better than I’d expected though. Unfortunately, the pain at the start never went away, the first few minutes of having sex hurts – quite a lot. I have seen a gynaecologist who has confirmed that there is a problem with some of the scar tissue around where the stitches were and that it would need an operation to fix it. But that there was a 50% chance it could make things even worse. So basically there is nothing that can be done. Apparently having another baby could change things but I dread to imagine what having another episiotomy would do, I just hope I never need to have another one (episiotomy not baby!).
Despite all of this, I would still do it all again because the little person I gained at the end made it all totally worth it.
EDITED – Luckily things did go back to normal in my private part area, although I am two weeks from giving birth again and the midwife couldn’t tell me what would happen to the scar tissue that remains from last time when I asked her. I just hope I don’t need too many stitches again!