Within the next 4 weeks, we will meet our daughter. All being well at the next scan appointment, we will (bizarrely) choose our induction date of 1st February and will wait to see if she thinks that date is suitable or decides to make an appearance sooner.
It has been a long time since my last blog post. The reasons for this absence have been numerous. I was so exhausted towards the end of last term that I could barely string a coherent sentence together, let alone a whole bunch of them and then write them down. Another factor was the relative success of my teaching posts (that is, my posts about teaching rather than the teaching post I hold, the success of which was severely limited by the aforementioned coherence factor). Surely any post following on from those should aim to emulate that success? What is the point of writing if I’m only getting a handful of views? Of course, that is a ridiculous point. I started this blog as a means to vent and talk about daily irritants (and whatever else happened to pop into my mind). I didn’t care who looked at it, if anyone. Therefore one of my new year’s resolutions is to stop being such a bloody Lisa Simpson and to stop setting myself useless and pointless ‘targets’. Perhaps it’s a symptom of my profession, perhaps it’s just the way I have always been, but either way I am now going to write because I enjoy it and for no other reason.
What was perhaps the most significant factor, however, is the fact that I have not really been feeling all that irritable. A blog called Irascible Babble by someone who is feeling considerably zen? Surely mis-advertising! The general anger that previously fired up when watching the news and interacting with the public has, on the whole, subsided. Please don’t take that as me saying I now love everyone and everything – I do not. I still think large chunks of the population require steralisation so as to avoid future generations being even more dense than the current one, but I have found that I am able to let go of this anger more easily.
The only thing that has changed in my life (aside from Christmas cheer, which has now subsided and the tree is nothing more than an inappropriate, if fabulous, piece of foliage in the corner of the room living on borrowed time) is the fact I have been embracing the practice of hypnobirthing. When I first read about hypnobirthing, long before I even considered having my own spawn, I thought it was something designed for hippies who wanted to give birth in forests with no more pain relief than a daisy chain headpiece and an appropriately placed incense stick. However, I came back to it when I got pregnant as I wanted to see if there was an alternative to the screaming, crying, profanity-spewing, husband-hating, 3 week long labours portrayed on One Born Every Minute.
The idea of giving birth whilst laid on my back on a hospital bed, feet in stirrups that had never even seen a saddle, with some overly-eager but well-meaning midwife screaming at me repeatedly to push does not appeal in the slightest. I get annoyed when people repeat themselves as it is (Jerry Springer is a no-go for me), so to have someone repeating an instruction, which I no doubt heard and fully comprehended the first time, in a situation whereby I am probably experiencing a great deal of discomfort, would surely lead to violence.
This, added to my control-freak nature, has lead me down the hypnobirthing path. For those who don’t know, hypnobirthing is all about extreme relaxation and trusting that your body, having had the benefit of thousands of years of evolution, is able to deliver a baby safely and naturally without the need for zoo-strength tranquilisers.
It is not for everyone. Some people want a medical birth, and that is absolutely fine. The important thing is you choose the method that suits you, or at least attempt to follow that method as far as nature allows. In an ideal world, I want as little medical intervention as possible. This is, of course, at odds with my completely micro-managed pregnancy due to my diabetes, but there’s no reason I can’t aim for the birth I want with just a few minor alterations.
I will say now, because of course there will be people reading this who consider my current opinions irrelevant because I have not yet spewed an infant from my loins, that this is in a perfect world. I fully acknowledge it may not go to plan, I am aware baby might not play ball and I am aware that other interventions may be required. That’s all fine, hypnobirthing prepares you to remain calm regardless of the situation and how far removed it is from your ideal.
I have not, at any point, rammed my beliefs in hypnobirthing down anybody’s throat. I’ve mentioned it to one or 2 people, but just in passing. Surprisingly, or in fact knowing people as I know them, unsurprisingly, the general reaction has been of mocking. “You can’t just breathe a baby out”, “Wait until you’re in labour, you’ll be begging for an epidural”, “There’s no point in having a birth plan, it never works out that way”. All of those comments may be true, but throwing such negative opinions in the face of someone who is telling you they are taking active steps to have a calm, relaxed birthing experience is neither necessary nor appropriate.
If someone is going in to hospital for an operation, they are offered comfort and buoyed up to think it won’t be ‘that bad’. All the positive clichés come out. If that is the case, why the absolute hell then do people think it is acceptable to tell people going in to have a baby that they will definitely, without question, be in the most pain ever experienced by a human and that they will never be able to get through it without being made numb from nose to knee, and that said child will have to be sucked out with a Dyson after the hospital porter has obliterated their nether regions with a rusty axe, possibly/probably whilst intoxicated? Why such a difference in attitudes?! You are going in to have a baby, not entering Guantanamo on a series of terror charges.
I would love to know why, when presented with someone who is about to undergo something as life-changing as having a child, someone who considers themself an old pro after having one child practically rubs their hands together with glee that they have a captive audience for their own birthing horror story. How many mums do you know who talk about their birthing experience in a positive light? If you’re anything like me, the balance will be severely tipped towards the macabre. Is it that people think they are worth more if they struggled through it? Is our validity as females purely defined by how many hours we laboured or how many centimetres we tore?
Perhaps the most bizarre element is that you never hear the partners talk about the grimness in such a boastful tone. No husband would look down his nose at a friend because their wife only tore one centimetre as opposed to the grade 3 fjord that appeared in his own wife. It only seems to be women who judge others by how gruesome their birth was. Nobody seems to celebrate a birth that went smoothly and calmly, if we don’t have a bit of Tarantino-esque bloodshed then it simply wasn’t a proper birth.
This ridiculous concept aside, I am sticking to my hypnobirthing plan. In my ideal little world, whether I am induced or she comes naturally, I would like to see how far I can go without pain relief. I have been practicing meditation and relaxation since the first trimester and Ross is well-versed in his important role in keeping me on track. I want to reach a level of calmness and relaxation which will mean I can focus my mind away from any discomfort and my interaction with people other than Ross will be minimal. I will have low lighting and my coloured lamp to help me visualise the colours I need to, along with my ‘upwards’ and ‘downwards’ visualisations and readings. I want our daughter to be born into a quiet, calm environment. Even if I end up having to have some sort of intervention or even an emergency C-section, I want the environment to be calm. I feel completely relaxed about the ability to achieve this and, for once, having my desires and opinions laughed at by other women doesn’t bother me. I know how I want it to be and all that matters is the method we choose is perfect for me, Ross and our daughter.
That said, I may have a mild contraction and demand to be knocked out immediately with the strongest epidural they have on offer. Who knows? All I am sure about is that, if that situation presents itself, I will demand that rhino-strength epidural in a calm, relaxed manner.