ABOUT GIVING LIFE
Updated: Jan 28
I think as a woman it's normal to imagine the process of labour. The secret is that whatever you imagine is not what is going to happen to you, just because there are hundreds of scenarios that you can not preview.
I started doing it very early. I still remember playing giving birth when I was about six years old in my room with the door closed so that my parents wouldn't see me.To make the whole scene more credible, I would put socks under my T-shirt in the parody of breasts, a cushion to make up for a pregnant belly and wet my hair (I didn't understand why, but the hair of all the actresses on TV when they were giving birth was saturated with water). Then the game would be for me to lie down on the bed and pretend as if I were yelling and writhing in pain - without making a noise of course so as not to attract my parents' attention.
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst
With age of course my knowledge of birth giving enriched and I felt quite well prepared when I went to the maternity clinic. Apart from taking state sponsored prenatal courses, I also watched a dozen of TV reports on child birth where crazy women would give their permission to film and show the whole labor process. I thought that knowing the worst case scenarios (premature birth, cesarian section, pregnancy complications and even giving birth to twins - just to remind you that there are women who suffer twice as much) prepared me for what was waiting for me.
After the pool we went home and were receiving friends for a dinner. I have to confess I was eager to get rid of the guests at that moment. I didn't follow any conversation and was only concentrated on the processes happening in my body at the moment. My belly pain had not gone but I was still not sure what the cause of it was because, indeed, my intestins had failed me. I later got to know that this happens often - this way your body does a self-cleaning before the expulsion of the fetus. However, there was something else, something weird... All my female intuition was telling me it was coming. It was the loss of the mucus plug (in case you don't know, it is what it sounds - a plug made of mucus that blocks your cervical canal) that sent me a clear signal that the birth was coming soon. Knowing that the first labour usually lasts very long, I prepared myself that I was unlikely to give birth at night and perhaps not even the next day.
Once the guests were gone, before we left, the Chef's father smiled to me and said, "Happy labour! Work well!" Indeed, I have never thought about it - giving life is actually a tough job! I also remember my mother's head sticking out of the window and shouting when the the car had already started off - "Marina, I love you!" - priceless words coming from the closest person before I actually became a mother myself.
But the time we came to the clinic, around 1 AM, I only started having "real" contractions. I'm putting here quotation marks because I started having "false" contractions that were not painful at about 5 months of pregnancy. The first thing the slightly drunk Chef did was to fall dead asleep on a hospital couch. In the meanwhile, I was crouching in pain on the toilet - a mix of intestins and contractions. I finally felt better and decided to have a short nap while listening to meditation podcast. I only started falling asleep when at 3 AM my waters broke. I was happy and excited rather than scared - until then the pain had been quite manageable and I started to think that all those actresses on TV had been overplaying the whole thing. I took a book and my phone and went to the operation block, having left the Chef sleep in the room. There a midwife put me in the prenatal room and left me there alone with sensors on my belly monitoring the baby's heartbeat and my contractions. My cervix at that point was only 1 cm open. For those who are not aware, before you can give birth your cervix has to dilate up to 10 cm. It is only at 8 cm though that you can get a shot of epidural, which is why the child birth anesthesia is not a complete panacea. Very rapidly the pain went crescendo. How naive I was to think I could read !
Half an hour later I asked the midwife to bring in my husband to hold my hand and to help me fight the pain. He came a bit crumpled, but in general cheerful. He tried to support me with jokes but I was not exactly in the mood to laugh. Finally (another 30 minutes later) the midwife said I could have epidural and we moved to the delivery room. The midwife sterilized my back and left in the quest of an anesthetist, while I stayed sitting on the bed with my back curled. I don't know what the problem with anesthetists is, but I got an impression that these doctors must be something like mushrooms - you need to go searching them for a long time somewhere in the forests. The midwife disappeared and left the two of us in the room. By that time the pain had reached the level that could only be described by the decibels in my voice. I swear I had never thought that I was able to roar like a wounded animal. Suddenly I felt that the baby was down there - should I be able to stand up, it would simply fall out. I asked the Chef to call the doctors. He came alone... What the hell? - I asked (it is very difficult to stay polite during this moment). I knew it was already too late to put the epidural once the baby's head was there, but I didn't want to give birth all alone either.
What happened later I remember vaguely. The Chef left again and this time came back running surrounded by 2 midwifes. I couldn't recognise faces anymore, I don't know what the Chef was doing at that time, I only knew that I had to push the baby out. Three contractions and my angel was out. It was 5.04 AM of the 2nd of August. Out there in the air, but still part of me as we were connected by the umbilical cord that the Chef cut. This is perhaps the strangest thing I had ever felt, this powerful moment when you understand the meaning of the word "giving life". I can't say I felt love towards this little one, it's not that. Rather, I felt amazed by the magic of nature that I had just been part of. I felt like I was holding in my hands a continuation of myself, but a living, breathing human being. The midwife asked me if we had chosen a name for her and we said simultaneously without hesitation, "Slatki" (of course she has a real name, but I will replace it here by a nickname).