status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage
As boringly unnecessary as some might find this post, the burning desire I had to write it simply could not be suppressed: my memory alone cannot be relied upon to furnish my tiny daughter with the details of her arrival into this world (should she ever request them).
Thus, here I am; hurling my most intimate experience into the blogosphere, all in the name of posterity and those of Life’s little moments that should never be forgotten.
After a few days spent pawing at the straw like a restless old ewe (the Mothership is to be thanked for that most poetic analogy), I woke at 3am on Friday the 10th of January 2014, surprised to discover that I had given birth to a jellyfish – for the uninitiated among you I should perhaps expand on that by explaining that the mucus plug, which protects a pregnant cervix from infection, is decidedly more spready than pluggy, and infinitely more mucusy than anything, anywhere, has any right to be…
Feeling queasy? Then look away now, for the tale I have to tell is only going to get worse.
Naturally sleep did not visit again after my body’s rather glutinous announcement of intent, and three hours later a gush of amniotic fluid and a spasm of acute lower back pain drove home the realisation that I was not likely to stay pregnant for much longer – five days before my due date, but not a single moment too soon.
The breaking of the waters necessitated a trip to hospital to check that the baby was still of cheerful countenance, so with the Mothership crouched anxiously behind the steering wheel, and me groaning my way over each and every pothole and bump in the road, we advanced on the professionals – hopeful that the increasing intensity of my pains would mean a speedy delivery of the next generation.
Only 1cm dilated. Bloody hell. How could that possibly be? The pain was coming ever more frequently: each contraction sending more amniotic fluid torrenting down towards my socks and leaving me bent agonisingly over the hospital furniture, yet I was not even in “active labour”.
How much more sodding “active” was this going to have to get??
Luckily (or something) a complete inability to sit or lie down by this stage spared me the 30 minute trip back home to wait for my contractions to hot up, and I was instead allowed up to the pre-labour ward to pace the corridors, continue soaking my socks and fail to find any comfort whatsoever in leaning on hospital furniture.
The ward was awash with other women in early labour, and listening to the short periods of groaning liberally interspersed with otherwise cheerful chitter chatter, I began to feel a little hard done by – for from about 8 o’clock that morning there had been no discernible break in my pain at all. Somebody with a particularly vicious and pointy drill had set up shop in my lower back and was going at my pelvic girdle with enthusiastic vigour, periodically winding my lower abdomen into an industrial strength vice for additional kicks.
After a few grim hours, and a thermos of mysterious herbal infusion sent by my Romanian sister-in-law to help with dilatation, the duty midwife was delighted to inform me that I had reached 5cm. Meaning that rather than soaking her nice clean floors and pestering her about whether this much pain was really right or fair, I was instead wheeled down to a delivery suite and handed into the care of the two midwives hoping to assist me in releasing my bundle of joy from her uterine prison.
There followed the most entertaining few hours: gas and air are without doubt the best matched pair since toast and honey and I partook liberally of their delights to ride out the pain of my advancing contractions, whilst nattering with the Mothership and caterwauling Bohemian Rhapsody and other catchy hits with Sarah and Gemma – two of Kettering General Hospital’s finest midwives.
I’m not embarrassed to confess that it felt like the most exhilarating journey of my life – the pain had a purpose, I was coping with it better than I had ever anticipated and only a handful of hours later I was already fully dilated on one side, 8cm on the other.
We were so nearly there!
It was about 6 o’clock that afternoon when things started to go a little awry: an acute and unrelenting pain started up behind my left hip that even gas and air were unable to ease. The Mothership massaged until her fingers were numb, but the agony just kept on building together with an increasing desire to push.
Unfortunately, however, my cervix was disinclined to cooperate; refusing to budge any further than 8cm and keeping my daughter tantalisingly out of reach.
After some sort of painkilling injection that served no purpose, I eventually agreed to an epidural which kept the pain at bay for about 10 minutes before I was howling like an animal once again and liberally vomiting up my stomach lining into a cardboard bowl.
A couple more hours passed with no further progress before it was decided that an emergency caesarean section was the only likely outcome to my labour. At the time I was convinced it was because I was being too shamefully pathetic about the pain, but as the spinal block took effect and I was at last able to stop vomiting and relax back onto the operating table, I decided that neither my pride nor I really cared very much at all…
(It transpired that despite her unwaveringly strong heartbeat, Maya had the umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck, which is why she was not descending – a natural birth was sadly never on the cards. If only we’d been privy to that information fifteen hours earlier!)
I tried to tune out the chatter of the operating staff as they fished around inside me – if I had dwelled too closely on what was actually going on the other side of that sheet I think I might have been psychologically scarred for life.
In fact, so well did I detach myself from the situation that I almost forgot what I was there for, until a faint but unmistakable wail dragged me back to the present and to that indescribably joyous moment in which I at last met my baby daughter…
This is Status Viatoris, planning never to forget a single moment of that amazing day, but, given her current baby-brain affliction, is still relieved that she at last got the details written down!