When I was preparing our calender post for Monday it struck me that folk around the world were celebrating Labor Day. We don’t celebrate labor day here but if you follow our blog you have to know that know that babies are totally top of my mind right now. I thought I should rack my brain and see if I could even remember se7en birth stories. I thought about it for a couple of days. Who on earth would want to read such humdrum? Then I am always astonished that folk read our blog at all!!!
But I was so inspired by yesterday’s post on We Are That Family, where Kristen commented on the SuperPowers of Motherhood… she asked: How many hours have you spent in labor and how many pounds/kilograms in combined birthweight have you endured!!! Here is my response:
Cool question: 4 boys, 3 girls – 27 hours in labor and about 26 kg – 57.5 pounds… (wahahaha!!! good grief I had to use a calculator!!!) … Not to mention 72 months pregnant (#8 is imminent) and 12 years of nursing. Considering all that it is quite incredible how resilient our bodies are. What I look like, compared to what I should look like isn’t that bad after all!!!
I seriously had to chuckle at this and even more seriously I had to use a calculator!!! And then I got down to remembering se7en birth stories…
Let’s begin just before the birth of Hood #1 in antenatal classes. Now I always knew we would have home-births, I am so absolutely terrified of anything medical even the thought of a doctor’s visit sends me reeling straight to bed – I kid you not. Clearly home-births were a given and everything you read about home-births is all sort of natural and peaceful and calm… In the ante-natal class there was a lot of talk of peaceful aromas and gentle lighting and whimsical candles and heavenly music, gentle massage and they showed a video of a “typical” hospital vs home-birth. We won’t go into the hospital birth (wahaaaa!!!! needles and things) but the home-birth was this gentle pitch-jolly-dark with one and a half flakey candles of a shadowy figure at ease in a birthing bath and after five minutes of all of us peering into the gloomy screen she finally said “oh” and out popped junior into the world. A number of potential fathers were very impressed, how bad can it be? And a number of potential mothers were a little intimidated!!!
So here are our se7en birth stories:
Hood #1: boy; labor: 6 hours; weight: 3.6kg (7.9 pounds).
I was incredibly fit and had swum my way through pregnancy with a local swimming squad, ending with a 2km swim the day before he was due. My body was ready and trained and I was confident!!! You must understand home-births are not considered sane in our part of the world and certainly to carry a baby to term is sheer madness. So on his due date the midwife came round for a visit, she told me the gynae was expecting my call on the following Monday – obviously there was a serious problem. Well one mention of a doctor’s visit and I spun straight into labor. Boom!!! Not to mention I was in real genuine pain! No gentle humming to candle light for me! The shock of the pain was, I guess like ice water being thrown in my face. I did have in mind a couple of mantra’s: “Every contraction past is one less in the number of contractions till the birth” and so on. But I was still shocked at the intensity of the whole event. So where does a girl go in times of trial? I headed for the bath – we lived in an old Victorian house with a gigantic bath and I submerged myself and found my inner peace regardless of my raging body! In great style I whizzed through the first stage of labor and then couldn’t figure how to get this creature out!!! All the books say relax into it – wahhaha! And I had a midwife going push, don’t push, do this, do that – why she didn’t shut up I will never know! She did ask if I wanted to get out of the bath? And I suggested she get herself a cup of tea, no jolly way was I getting out of that bath!!! Anyway Hood#1 and I finally figured it out and he was born in the dead of night, totally unplanned water-birth and no gentle “oh” to announce his arrival either!!! Needless to say having survived labor I now needed to know how to nurse – like you don’t necessarily know how to do this folks!!!
Hood #2: boy; labor: 5.5 hours; weight: 3.0kg (6.6 pounds).
Well this little guy was a little unexpected arriving a month earlier than anticipated – he was in a rush to catch up with his brother and has never stopped chasing. So my waters broke in the dead of night. I leapt up thinking yay baby in just a couple of hours – I walked, I rocked but nothing happened, nothing was going on… I had a bath, I walked some more… finally after hours of nothing the midwife looked at me and said: “We will have to take this in” and literally this little guy popped straight out of my body! 3cm to born in about 8 seconds. I tell you it is that fear of hospitals that keeps me going. Turns out, even though he was never under any stress and was born perfectly (if a bit smaller and earlier than his siblings) his placenta wasn’t great and the best thing he could have done was jump the gun, so to speak.
Hood #3: girl; labor: 2 hours; weight: 3.65kg (8 pounds).
By now I was getting better at the art of labor – not so shocked but rather glad to know that a baby would soon be born. And this one was in a bit of a hurry, no break in contractions – she was a back labor. At the very last moment just as this little creature was about to deliver we had a guest on the rock outside our lounge window. The father person looked up and saw a baboon at the window. Everything stopped while everyone dashed to the window to see if this was for real, it was… We called the boys to play inside rather than out and then she was born! Perfect in every way! Welcome to Africa.
Hood #4: boy; labor: 4 hours; weight: 3.63kg (8 pounds).
This guy was born in the early morning. Very sharp! I went on to labor and called the midwife, she was busy with another client. She called the back-up who wasn’t back from vacation in Australia. So the midwife says – “Don’t worry I will come over in a couple of hours.” “No a couple of hours won’t do!!!” Needless to say a woman arrived at our front gate that we had never met, she was a midwife friend of our midwife. In she came to assess the scene and call the our midwife to tell her what was happening. Needless to say she actually walked in and helped deliver our little guy and then called the midwife to say that she needn’t come over!!!
Hood #5: boy; labor: 3.5 hours; weight: 4.6kg (10.2 pounds).
For the last month of this pregnancy I lay on the bed and read Dr.Suess stories… he immobilized me even before he was born! This guy was born on a Sunday. We spent the whole day knowing that he would be born but I was too busy reading stories, playing and generally looking after my other kids to focus on labor. Finally I got everyone through supper and into bed and spun straight into labor. The midwife arrived and we got chatting about cookbooks – I know, that is the reality of home births, some folk might be humming through a candlelit event but we are chatting about books!!! This kid was destined to be the Celebrity Chef we were going on and on and opening up cookbooks and eventually the midwife said should we have this baby and he literally tumbled out, with the fattest little cheeks you ever saw!
Hood #6: girl; labor: 2.5 hours; weight: 4.03kg (8.9 pounds).
This one was born during a hectic time with things we couldn’t miss. We had one free evening around the time of her due date and I had mentally prepared for that night being the night. Needless to say at the last minute some friends were out from Australia and the father person invited them round for supper. So I stood making about 45 hamburgers for all of us all the while chatting. I just new I was going into labor, and this friend kept saying well this must be so easy for you. Myth! Labor doesn’t get easier but you do get better at it! They finally left and I cleaned up and got to bed by 1 am. At 2 my waters broke. Didn’t want to wake the father person, he hadn’t had enough sleep so I left him to sleep. Finally at about 4 am I called the midwife, the friend to watch the kids and the father person. Midwife arrived and said let’s take look and see how far along you are and as she peered so the last of my waters rushed out in a giant explosion and showered her from head to foot. Hood #6 followed directly! The midwife borrowed some fresh clothes and went on her way!!!
Hood #7: girl; labor: 3.5 hours; weight: 3.5kg (8.9 pounds).
Well my house was clean and supper was ready everything was in order but I didn’t feel that the father person should be late home from work on the day!!! Now I never would call him to say “I am in labor,” firstly because I would hate any of his colleagues to know I was actually in labor (!) and secondly I can imagine him dashing home through the traffic and just total panic. So I ever so calmly called him and said: “I think you should get home before the rush hour traffic gets hectic” He still asked if he could go to the store and get a few things on the way home, always the eager shopper. I kind of thought he could get straight home! I called my friend who faithfully looks after our other kids when I am in labor and she had gone to the movies. Stay calm, stay calm. Someone stopped by to return some books: smile, smile, stay calm, stay calm. Finally everyone arrived and the little guys were busy with supper and our littlest one arrived. Then the lights went out!!! It was during the time when Cape Town was having heaps of power failures, shortages and days without electricity. Needless to say we finally had candlelight even if it was moments after the actual birth!
That’s it: Our poor midwife has endured a lot, no sweet candle-lit labors in this house. She has been with us for most of our last five births and hopefully she survives the chaos of the next one!
Hood #8: Your guess is as good as mine!!!