I have been through pregnancy 3 times and am now more than two-thirds of the way through my fourth. It does not get any easier or better. I do however can safely claim that I am more experienced than first time mothers and have some notions of what to expect for the birth.
I want to recount all my pregnancies and my three deliveries so far...as to make sure that in the future my children will know what their mum went through...so they themselves are equipped with some faint notion of how they came into the world.
I will go through each pregnancy and delivery in a manner most accurate as to how I remember them.
Petit Suisse : I had four and a half months of morning sickness, nausea, metallic taste and fatigue, all the hallmarks of symptoms of a pregnancy. It got better after five months although the fatigue stayed and this is something that is common with all of the pregnancies I had. I walked everywhere and one night after having traversed the Leman lake and it was 3 almost 4 weeks earlier than my expected due date my water broke at the wee hour of the morning probably around 2-3 am ish. It was impressive as I had lost all control and wetted/soaked the bed. in amniotic liquid. Shrek called the maternity and we promptly dashed for the hospital. The contractions came soon after we arrived and the intensity heightened and amplified. Beforehand I had heard some horror stories about the epidural and was reluctant at first to ask but the intensity of the contractions got the better of me and I decided to greenlight the epidural injection.
Delivery time came and I pushed for a fruitless hour. I had an inexperienced first-time midwife who had just assisted one or two births. She told me to push, push and push some more and Petit Suisse's hair kept making an appearance so he was yo-yoing without actually making his grand entrance. The Dr had to then interfere and she did so with the vaccuum (ventouse). I pushed during a big contraction and she pulled with the vacuum violently and brutally. She could have employed more finesse or been gentler but as a result I tore and had to be sewn up post-partum. I did not have an episiotomy which studies have shown not to be a better option than to tear naturally. So I was stitched up while the epidural was wearing off and I was now feeling the culmination of pain from the tearing and the labour. I did however endure the excruciating pain without screaming hence Shrek although present did not attest to the fact that it hurt.
One of my biggest gripes at that stage was he did not seem all that sympathetic for he saw it as pretty much routine and painless because I was not screaming and hurling like a headless chicken. He then took it upon himself to take up parole and become my spokesperson (my French was miserably not up to par at that point ) and explaining to people that
"It was fine, nothing out of the ordinary and quite alright by all standards."
What he did not know was that I suffered in silence for almost two months because the stitches hurt like hell everytime I urinated or walked... I kept up a brave face because my pain threshold was high and soldiered on without hinting at the physical laceration and agony I was enduring. Shrek had no inkling of what I was going through and quite frankly I felt indignation and disgust that he could nonchalantly tell people that it was fine blah blah blah when in fact he did not know what was really going on- it was misleading.
I even smiled in the photos taken...without wincing because it is my personal reflex to do so. Maybe I mask my pain by smiling so brightly in photos... Sometime I regret not letting my true feelings shine through.
I felt dissapointed, isolated and alone and had the baby blues accentuated by an incomprehensive midwife. She was not to know because I did not speak French and was not one to complain or demand service.
I cried many a silent tear to sleep. I felt that having one loyal suppporter was better than a dozen of half-assed supporters. I did not think that people cared about how I was doing or if I was in pain or suffered... all they cared about was the fact that I delivered a baby boy who was in good health. I did not feel like I counted as a woman or person, just merely a vessel and birthing instrument.
The fact is that I would have preferred my mum being there. In the old days the husbands or partners were not allowed in the delivery rooms... My mum had been accompanied by a good friend or her sister when she gave birth. I think on the whole it was a uniquely female bonding moment because only one who has been through it herself can sympathise with what the woman in labour is feeling. Men can empathise to a certain degree depending on their penchance for insight but cannot fully appreciate the extent to which pregnancy and birth changes a woman. Shrek's unintentional insensitivity floored me.
Nowadays I say to hell with suffering in silence, that is a misnomer. Being stoic only leads to wallowing in self-pity and resentment.
So I vow to let it be known when people ask me how I am doing the truth even if repeating that I am tired, exhausted and in pain bores even me. Make no mistake about it.
Lil Miss N: my period did not return after Petit Suisse's birth for a year. The first three months of pregnancy was uneventful as I did not exhibit any symptoms that I previously had with Petit Suisse. I did not know and had no suspicions that I had fallen pregnant. My stomach did not change much either which meant it was quite late when I discovered the pregnancy. I had to abruptly severe breastfeeding as advised by the gynocologist because my milk contained an excess of female hormone (estrogen) whilst I am pregnant. Petit Suisse was not impressed as he wailed and cried for two weeks.
Lil Miss N was comfortable in the warmth and safety/security of my womb so she did not want to be birthed. She was 6 days overdue.
I broke my water in the morning and we went to the maternity. I had not dilated that much by this time. Shrek returned home to park the car and he was coming back by bus. The midwife called Shrek to inform him that in fact things were moving faster than we had anticipated and he should hurry back if he did not want to miss Lil Miss N's grand entrance. I had the epidural injection again as per usual habit, this time with a lil bit less hesitance and trepidation.
I had an experienced midwife who guided me because eventhough it was my second time I had not learnt the first time how to properly and efficiently push. She was quite helpful and I felt more reassured as she assisted me and Miss N's head pushed through the threshold after only a few propulsions on my part. It was so fast and I was running the risk of tearing that the midwife told me to hold on and wait. With her head out and her body almost out I felt the urge to push...but had to hold back and this hurt...I screamed a little much to my surprise. I was relieved when I could finally release and she was born.
The post-partum was slightly better than that of Petit Suisse. I think if it was worse I would have been majorly depressed. As it was I returned home for three weeks of house-arrest save the weekend because Shrek had to serve the army for three weeks and as I had a newborn in winter with kneehigh level of snow. It was a particular year where snowfall was unusually abundant. I did not leave the house as I was not equipped or felt fit enough. I had just given birth and taking care of Petit Suisse who was understandably jealous at first and not in the least bit independent and a newborn took its toll(was enough to drive sane women mad)
It passed and things got better as I slowly adapted to the way of life in Geneva. I still have not been able to make as many friends as I would like but that is another problem for another rant.
Baby M: Once again I did not suspect being pregnant. I fell pregnant after returning from an extended four month holiday: three month long stay in Sydney and a month long stay in Vietnam. The first few months were once again uneventful and went by without much notice. The last month leading up to the birth though left me with much pain in the pelvis as Baby M's head was in birth position and it put pressure on my pelvic floor/bassin.
His birth was initiated by the water breakage...as is dictated by precedence. I did not have contractions and stayed a night at the maternity being monitored. Since the water had broken I had to be induced by pills to provoke contractions and hence commence labour.
I once again requested the epidural.
I was assisted this time by the head-midwife who is experienced and pleasant and gentle. She is in fact a friend of Shrek's. She was astonished by the lack of blood when Baby M came. I did not loose any blood whatsoever but more than made up for this later up in the maternity recovery ward when my uterus was pressed and an abundance of clotted blood came rushing out. I felt light-headed and was attended to by the midwives to ensure that uterus contracts properly. I lost quite an impressive amount of blood clots.
I did not enjoy the maternity stays for the three because medically speaking I got the care I needed but missed out on some comforts...and could not get any rest because unfortunately for me I was always in a full capacity room with either snoring mums (they are worse than Shrek) or perturbed newborns.
That sums up my three children's births so far. In resume I would say that the fourth and final pregnancy resembles Baby M's the most with the pelvic floor pain even more intense and acute. Shrek has been meticulously helping out much more so than before. He is more aware and conscious of what I am undergoing.
I will post more about the fourth birth after post-partum.
I want my children to know that I am first and foremost a woman in my own right, capable with an intellectual insight.
I will always savour the lessons my mum taught me and how she stressed the importance of being an independent-financially and intellectually woman. Being a working mum to be valued and counted.
I also want them to know that despite the current trend of mums who give birth and immediately return to work without skipping a beat, I fight against the current and am a full time stay at home mum to endow them with the gift of time, care, attention and love. I would like to educate them and even when I lose my patience and temper would like them to know I always have their best interest at heart and that I do want them to make their own mistakes, follow their own dreams and paths. Whatever they choose to do in life, I am here with Shrek to guide them but not to dictate, to support them without being judgemental (or trying not to be) and to love them unconditionally as best we could. I cannot be the perfect mum because perfection does not exist but I try my best to be the best mum and person I can be so that my children will be proud of me as I hope I will be proud of them despite our differences and likely discord/arguments over certain subjects in time to come.
This is my favourite biblical passage Corinthians 13:4-7 which sums up elegantly how I feel. Oddly enough this is also the passage I chose to read at my wedding.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
It ends on an optimistic note because I believe that dwelling on the positive will make a difference.
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