Friday, 13 February 2009

Friday 13th - Labour Day Part 1

Friday the 13th occurs at the most three times a year, but more often than not just once a year. I know this because I've just looked it up on Wikipedia and want to get my facts straight before I write a post concerning this ominous date. So given those statistics, what is the probability of a child being born on Friday the 13th? I'm not actually sure of this because if it were possible to be numerically dyslexic (I don't think it is), I would be. What I'm saying is that I've always hated maths and can't be bothered to work it out. But the point I'm getting at is that the probability is pretty low. So imagine my relief when, exactly four and a half years ago, on the morning of Thursday 12th August, I went into to labour. My first reaction (apart from extreme panic) was to think 'Aah, at least I'll miss Friday 13th'. The funny thing is, I don't even know why I cared at all because I've never been superstitious - I walk under ladders without my heart skipping a beat and the number 13 has never represented anything to me other than the next in line to number 12. But there was just something about Friday 13th that made me not want to have a child born on it.

This post, you'll see is just an excuse to tell you my labour story, but I'm trying to do it in a roundabout way so I won't seem so obvious! Anyway, as my labour progressed (or not as it turned out), the scary date loomed closer and closer. With your first child you have no idea what to expect from childbirth. As I mentioned in my post a couple of days ago, no one could tell me what it was like. Not even my own Mother. And the two people who had been pregnant at the same time as me, my sister in law and an old friend, had had, by any standards, pretty easy labours. Both six or seven hours, no pain relief, no tearing, no stitches, no intervention, just pleasant memories and a beautiful baby at the end of it all. Crikey, if they could do it, I thought, then I definitely could. I hadn't put my pain threshold to the test particularly up until that point - a couple of broken bones and stitches, even a tattoo, and I'd been ok with them, so I was pretty sure I'd come through with flying colours. Now this is where I just have to say ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha foolish.

So when I went into labour on the morning of Thursday 12th I was pretty sure that I'd have a baby before it even got dark outside. I'd done my maths and I thought 7 hours - I'll be home for supper!!!! As it turned out I wasn't home for supper that night, or the night after or the night after that. And probably not for two more nights after that. But the funny thing is JP had actually cooked stuffed peppers and when it was clear neither of us would be eating them, he'd left them in the oven (turned off thankfully) and we'd found them four days later covered in mould. I was devastated at the waste and even tried to salvage some of it! Anyway, back to the labour. Mid way through Thursday the 12th, when I was pretty sure I couldn't take any more pain (the contractions seemed to be only a couple of minutes apart) I begged JP to take me to the hospital. In one of my ante natal classes we'd been advised to stay at home for as long as possible, so I was pretty confident that I'd pushed the timescale to the limit and I'd be congratulated for holding out so long. I had a contraction in the car on the way to the hospital (it was a three minute drive) and another just outside the door to casualty. This was it. The baby was about to be born. I could feel it. A Mother just knows these things. So imagine my complete and utter dismay when, following an examination by a midwife, I was told that I wasn't even 1cm dilated. Now for those of you that don't know, you have to be 10cm dilated for the babies head to fit down your passages (still not sure of all the technical terms). And this is the worst bit - on average it takes about an hour per centimetre of dilation. So despite my discomfort, I did my maths again. It was going to be another 10 hours...surely not?!! Hold on, that means the baby's going to be born on Friday 13th. Oops...

And to make matters much much worse, we were sent home. Not advised. But sent. There was no room for us and we should go home. Try to get some sleep. Some sleep? Were they crazy? I couldn't sleep. I couldn't speak. I couldn't even bloody breathe. How on earth was I going to be able to sleep? But of course we didn't want to cause a scene (I am very English after all) so we went home, JP clutching the stereo which I'd demanded he bring because my best friend Olaf had made me some reggae cd's to listen to and I was determined to play them at the crucial moment. But seeing JP with the redundant stereo and me sweating and screeching and waddling (oh yeah I forgot to mention that I had put on 5 stone in weight) I just felt pissed off and humiliated. So we trundled off home and I spent the rest of the day and night screaming in complete agony. And that's true. I'm not quite sure why my labour was so slow and so hideously painful, but it was.

So following another 12 hours of excrutiating, unbearable pain, I really felt the time had come again and we made our way back to the hospital...But guess what? Not even 1cm dilated. Now this is where I just had to swear. 'For fuck's sake. Can somebody please tell me what the fuck is going on?' This time, we were advised to go home again, but I was having none of it. 'I need an epidural. Please can I have an epidural??' (Of course, in the days leading up to the birth I had debated the pros and cons of having an epidural and had definitely decided not to have one). An epidural, for those who don't know is a form of anaesthetic that helps numb the pain caused by contractions. Now when I hear pregnant women proudly stating that they won't be having an epidural I want to shout at them and say 'don't be so bloody stupid. Who knows how your labour's going to be. You could end up begging for one'. But of course I don't say anything of the sort because I was that person once. It turned out that because my waters had broken more than 12 hours previously, I needed to be induced (which means having your labour artificially speeded up with the help of hormones). There are a few different types of induction. My type was a drip in the arm and, as I read the description on a tatty peice of paper handed to me by a midwife, it was 'the most painful form of induction.' An epidural was 'advised'. Well seeing as I'd already requested an epidural, I was 'happy' to receive it. But as my contractions got stronger and stronger and more painful due to the hormone being dripped into my arm, the epidural (which consisted of an enormous needle being stabbed into my spinal cord) seemed to be more and more useless. 'Well it should be working by now', said the midwife. 'Well it's not'. I screamed. So I had another one. It still didn't work. 'Well let's roll you over on to your side (like a sack of potatoes) and try to get the anaesthetic to move to the right places'. And this was not as easy as it sounded. Already with a whopping great needle sticking out of my back, a bump the size of an triplet pregnancy and five extra stone just hanging around, it was a huge effort. It didn't work. Neither did the spinal block which they tried next (because my back was so swollen from the epidural that they couldn't get the needle in). It was at this point that I thought - 'Do you know what? I don't care if this baby is born on Friday 13th. I just want to get it out'.

But this is where I have to leave you. This whole post concerns Friday the 13th and unless I publish it in the next five minutes, then the whole date subject thing will be completely useless because I would have missed not only the day, but the point as well. So I will be back tomorrow to finish off this story. Apologies if childbirth is not your thing, but if you give me a couple of days I will have got it out of my system. Until tomorrow.


  1. Numerical dsylexia is called dyscalculia, and I have it! Please post the rest of your birth story,I'm hooked x

  2. Wow - I never knew that!! Thanks so much. I'm all chufefd with this new piece of knowledge. Ok, I will post Labour Day Part 2 when I have the energy! Obviously meant to do it the very next day but got a little sidetracked. And then I thought no one would notice!! Am very glad you're hooked!