Let’s be honest, birth is far from blissful. But let me explain.
My midwife was a total badass, cool as a cucumber under pressure - a great match for my bossy personality. I trusted that if I pushed her she would push back just as hard. After a full day of labour I rocked up to the hospital, the TENS I'd hired was working a treat and I was cruising.
But then she broke my waters.
And the contractions became like great waves of pain crashing and shuddering throughout every part of my splintering body. I was rocking and just trying to breathe because if I stopped breathing I was screaming and I was out of control, drowning. I was on my feet, with my hands on my husbands shoulders. I wanted to strip the flesh off them with my bare hands, I needed him to feel pain. I wanted him to feel it for me. I was losing it. I arched, desperately trying to resist the pain.
The contraction passed and I whimpered at my middy “I can’t. I can’t do it anymore. I need help. HELP ME.” I didn’t even say drugs. Because even in my desperation I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
She calmly turned towards me, “If I give you something you will never forgive me.”
“Because… then I won’t be able to hold her?” I broke into a desperate sob like a little girl. We hadn’t even talked about my birth plan but we were on the same page, no interventions if the baby and I are safe. That had always been the agreement.
“Yes, because you don’t want her to risk her being a floppy baby and go to NICU do you?” She asked me gently.
I didn’t reply. I felt vulnerable, and angry. I wanted to swear at her. I turned towards her to cry out again.
And then my midwife did the coldest thing anyone has ever done to me. At the exact moment I needed her, she left the room.
I turned back towards my husband. But I didn’t see him. I whispered “I want my baby. I want my baby.” Because you see, my midwife is a genius. And she knows that great secret, that women are strong beyond belief. I remember the same moment during the birth of my first child, when I realised in sharp clarity that I was the most alone I had ever been in my life. No one can push this baby out but me. And that final terrifying resolution, that I better just get on with it. So that’s what I did.
The next earth shattering wave of pain rippled up my body, and I took a gusty breath, felt the rhythm of my lungs, kept my head just above it. And I lent into the pain.
I want my baby. I want my baby. I want my baby.
The next contraction I was bearing down and my guttural bellowing sent my midwife running back into the room. We had a laugh later about how well she knew that the best thing for me was that she leave. I needed to stop resisting each contraction and work with my body. She’d been waiting and heard me yelling, and announced to the other nurses in the ward that it had worked. She came running back into the room with another midwife to assist. I was in second stage.
I gave birth standing right there, staring like a deadly warrior into my husband’s eyes, just 6 minutes later.
Birth rarely goes to plan, but in the end whether you opt for an epidural, or have a c-section, whether you go totally drug-free or end up needing emergency interventions – when its all over you can look at that divine little face and know – you did this. Bliss.
Ariel is a mum of 2, social worker, coffee addict and founder of Bliss Birth