Meimango's Pregnancy Journey, STEPS, Sharing

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Meimango’s Pregnancy Journey

Week 36

“So what do you think she’s doing?” asked Midlands Sonographer as he squidged the gel around my belly.

“Well she’s been wriggling lots, but I’m not confident that she’s the right way around”, I laughed nervously.

“Well, her head’s down here.”  He prodded beneath my belly button.

“WHAT!  You’re kidding me.  No WAY!  That’s fantastic!  Good girl, you beauty, good girl! This is brilliant! I can’t believe it! Amazing!”  The positive expletives continued for a good minute or so.

The Kiwi sonographer’s assistant called out from behind a screen, “You’re happy then?”.

My husband and son came through the clinic doors just as I’d called them on the phone.  They’d been circling around the car park for the past 15 minutes.

“I’ve already been in!” I beamed, “They called me 5 minutes before I was due in.  Do you want to know what happened?”

My husband was disappointed; I knew he’d been looking forward to seeing Bump.  And I really wanted him to be there also.  “I’m so sorry,” I offered.  “But if it’s any consolation, I couldn’t make anything out on the screen; everything was all squashed and blurred. I couldn’t even make out what part of her body I was looking at.”

“What happened?” said Husband.

“She’s the right way round!”

“And the cord around her neck?”

“Both of them have gone!  She wriggled the right way round!”

“That’s great!” exclaimed Husband, slightly incredulous.  “I guess that means I’m going to have to learn what to do when you give birth now.”

“You better believe it!”  I made a quick assessment of how much studying he would have to do before the big day.  “You can start by reading Ina May’s guide to Childbirth,” I said, pulling it out of my bag.  “That should give you a taster, for where I’m coming from.”

“Sure, I’ll start in a couple of days.”

A couple of days later…

“Have you started the book yet?”

“No, I’ve only got a few more pages to go of the one I’m on.”  He holds up a copy of A Dandy in the Underworld.

“Oh ok.  I’ve ordered a DVD through the post, Orgasmic Birth.”  Husband’s eyes pop out of his head.

“Really?  Don’t you think we should be concentrating on you?”

“Ha ha.” Cue eye-rolling.  “It’s not what you think…It looks at how birth is a natural act, and how to encourage natural responses.  I really want this to be special, now that I’ve got a shot at this.”

“OK.”

My reasoning behind the DVD is more to do with time constraints than anything else.   Lumping my husband with a book at this late stage seems overly optimistic.   Given that in the past his eyes have glazed over whenever I’ve talked about pregnancy and childbirth issues; i know that opening a book about it on his commute is going to seem like punishment.   Generally he’s been very supportive; most days sending me articles whenever there’s a news story surrounding all things childbirth.

A few more days later…

The phone rings.

“Hello, you have an appointment with the Consultant Midwife today?  I’m afraid we have to cancel, as she’s been off sick for at least 2 weeks.”

“Oh, that’s a blow.  I was hoping she would sign off several things I want to do for my birth plan.  I’m not sure they are normally within hospital guidelines, being a VBAC and all… “

“You could always try emailing her.”

“If she’s that ill, I wouldn’t want to bother her.  Is there anyone else in lieu of her?”

“No, I’m sorry.  Can I give you her email address?”

“Sure.  Though, can I have another appointment?  I know it will be quite close to my due date, but I’d rather talk to her. I still need to make some decisions based on discussions.”

“Shall I make that for 3 weeks time?”

“I’ll take my chances for 2 weeks.”

When Husband got home that evening, I told him what had happened.

“…So, that means if I go into labour before I see Super Midwife, you’re going to have to fight my corner, and actually know what you’re talking about.  I might not be able to talk when the time comes.”

“Sure thing.”

The next night we watched Orgasmic Birth.  I was happy to see that there were commentaries with Ina May Gaskin; and was hoping that seeing her may encourage Husband’s reading.   I was surprised at Husband’s engagement.

His first response after hearing one of the early commentaries was that it was setting up women who couldn’t have a natural birth to feel like failures.   A fair point, though it didn’t quite take in the greater context.

“Why is he pushing her there?” he later asked whilst watching a partner massaging a labouring woman’s lower back.

“I think it counters the pressure.  Did you see that shot of him massaging her thighs?  That’s supposed to feel good.  Can you keep a lookout for all the different positions, I might forget about them in the heat of the moment.”

“Uh huh.”

The format of the movie was filmed birth experiences and stories from home, birth centres and hospitals, interspersed with commentary from health professionals. It mostly referred to the US system, although there was a New Zealand birth experience in there.  Commentary from a particularly learned expert from the World Health Organisation made it clear that much of the information was pertinent to all countries.

I was slightly relieved to find that the orgasmic aspect of the subject wasn’t sensationalised.   Instead, it seemed to normalise all physiological responses and provided a framework for how to create a safe birthing environment.

After the film had finished I asked Husband if he’d found it useful.

“Yes.  But it makes me not want to go to hospital.”

“Me too.”

I reflected on how lucky I was to be in the UK rather than the USA for this VBAC birth.  I would probably have a much greater fight on my hands to be able to labour in water, with a telemetry monitor, without a cannula and all the other paraphernalia that comes with it.

Things could still go awry, but I feel much more relaxed knowing my partner is aware of how I feel, and that we’re in agreement about most of my birth preferences.   I’ll need him more than ever when Bump decides to kick things off, and I know that Husband will be on my side and give me my voice.