Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Where did my brain go?


I am kind of back. But not entirely. Ever since my baby was born, I have been watching the world around me from inside some bubble filled with gas and air. Slowly, I am beginning to emerge. But my brain is still very slow, affected by the lack of sleep and the trauma of childbirth.

Because, whatever those crazy masochistic natural birth fanatics tell you, giving birth SUCKS.

I have to tell you, that I am definitely not the natural birth fan. I am glad I never got lured into that midwives-led natural birthsection of the hospital I was telling you about. That would have finished me. I mean, WHY? Why would anyone in this day and age volunteer to suffer such horrendous, agonizing, all-consuming, and, most importantly, pointless pain? It is like asking your dentist to not anesthetise you before he pulls your teeth out. 

As it turned out, I still suffered, even though, if you look at the way everything worked out, it was a straightforward delivery. No complications, no emergency C-sections...No scary tools to pull the baby out of me. So really, I have nothing to complain about. 

I had a fantastic Nigerian midwife. She entertained me with stories about Nigerian men. Of course, not straight away, but after I finally got my epidural and sucked on gas&air pipe, which gave me hope that I might live. So, I could talk to my midwife and even make jokes. And, I enjoyed listening about Nigerian men. According to my midwife, they are culturally allowed to leave their wives or just have sex with another woman, if the wife does not produce a boy. So, as a Nigerian wife, even though she lives in the UK, my midwife had to keep producing children until, finally, the 4th one was a boy. She was very lucky, she said. Otherwise, her husband could have left her. So, not only I delivered my baby girl that day, I also learned that Nigerian men are bastards. Imagine having to go through this agony over and over again, not because you desperately want to have more kids, but because you have to give your husband a son? 

The midwife kept me going. Even when the doctor, who stopped by for a minute, decided it was a good idea to stop topping up the epidural, so I could push the baby out naturally. I did not think it was a good idea, personally.
‘Tell you what would be a good idea?’ I said, ‘To keep topping up the epidural until it leaks out of my nose.’
 But, the doctor thought otherwise. So, it was the midwife who was telling me I was doing great when I thought I was about to cark it. She was the one who told me to place my foot on her wide sturdy hip and push that baby out. That day, there was nobody in this world more special to me than my new baby and my Nigerian midwife.

So, in short, that is the story. I also realized that women are meant to have babies when they are young. Five years ago, I was out for a coffee morning on the day 4 after giving birth. This time, I wanted to hide in a deep dark cave with no humans around for at least that whole first week. I also realized that the 40-days- no- visitors rule back home is a fantastic idea. It would never work in the UK, but I totally understand now the benefits of such tradition. 

As for me right now, my calendar is filled with visitors. We live in the neighbourhood that I can only describe as breeders’ heaven. Everyone loves babies and everyone is excited for you. Besides friends, we had a card from my older child’s teachers, and the school dinner lady; and a huge bouquet of flowers from all the mothers in her class.  I had random cards and presents sent to me by people I hardly know. It is incredible, to tell you the truth, and wonderful but also tiring and overwhelming. I panic that I have not thanked people enough, I panic that I probably should write down who sent us what, so that I could later do my thank you cards...I panic that I have not responded to every kind wish on Facebook...But in reality, I have no energy or time. My brain is reduced to the size of a radish, and all I can focus on is whether my body is producing enough milk. 

I promise to be back properly soon, and we can talk about ethnic identities, or the importance of the Eurovision victory for democracy in Azerbaijan, or whatever else might tickle our fancy. At the moment though, all I can think about is feeding schedules, lack of sleep and whether I can handle more than one visitor in one day. 

 PS: It took me three nights to finish this posting.


  1. He Scary. Nice to see you blogging again!

    "Why would anyone in this day and age volunteer to suffer such horrendous, agonizing, all-consuming, and, most importantly, pointless pain?"

    Because epidurals come with increased risk of Caesarean section, and of course a small risk of paralysis?

    "The actual incidence of neurologic dysfunction resulting from bleeding complications is estimated to be 1 in 150,000 for Epidurals and 1 in 220,000 for Spinal anesthetics."

    Besides this, you have to lie flat on your back, which isn't a very effective position to give birth in because you're fighting gravity. And then of course your contractions are less effective because you can't feel what's going on, and it's no wonder you're still down for the count.

    It's also worth adding that home births are actually easier than hospital births, probably because you're more comfortable. Water births are good too. My wife never gave birth at home, but she swears by water births, and she did go without an epidural all three times, including this one. (It's another boy! Now I have no pretext for leaving her, even if we visit Nigeria.)

  2. Come back soon, we love our weekly Scary dish!

  3. Welcome back, Scary, and you can be reassured that, even though your brain is the size of a radish, your voice is undimmed. No dewy-eyed romanticism, just the reality of the experience with the usual humorous twist.

  4. Missed you here. This story is fantastic and just so YOU. Pozdravlaiu again...and your daughter, too, for having such a funny mom.

  5. Well Scary, just take the time you need to be back on your feet. You know we will be here waiting for you.
    I suggest you not to be worried for not thanking enough. Maybe if you, or Husband, stick a banner on your door with something as "Thank you all, you are being very kind!" written on it would do. You, your baby and your little girl must be your priorities right now. Neighbors, friends and even your readers have to be considered lesser priorities for a while.

  6. Dear Scary, the most important thing is that baby is here! Your second beautiful daughter! I think it’s worth everything we are suffering from during the birth process.
    To Mark: There are as many allies as opponents for natural birth. We definitely wont go back to the 15-th century to any wonderful doctor for any procedure. But when it is time to think about giving birth - then people start to talk about "old times" and ways our great great grandmothers delivered babies.

  7. @Mark: I would be interested in comparing the stats of this 1 in 150,000 chance of a paralysis with how many home births go terribly wrong.

    I think it must be very personal. People kept telling me I would have to lie flat as if it were a bad thing. I was in so much pain I really did not fancy walking, bending or squatting down! Lying flat felt GOOOOD. :) and I pushed her out just fine, thanks to the Nigerian midwife's hip I could use for support, of course. :)
    But hey....CONGRATULATIONS! Well done, and send my best to your wife. also...respect! for doing it naturally. Honestly, I just have no idea how people do it.

    @Bill,Gabriela, Anonymous and VickiB: Thanks! Glad to see you still remember me.

  8. > @Mark: I would be interested in
    > comparing the stats of this 1 in
    > 150,000 chance of a paralysis with
    > how many home births go terribly wrong.

    Well, you can give birth in a hospital without an epidural; that's how Wife did it. And I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for everyone - if it feels right to lie on your back, you may be better off that way.

    As far as comparing home vs. hospital birth, that's tough for a variety of reasons. The best study of which I am aware had some problems with it - the study evidently included some unplanned home births by accident. But, the results do confirm your suspicion: home births are easier, healthier, and require less intervention, but the baby is more likely to die. You can see the study yourself here.

  9. @Mark: You mentioned home births, so I just wondered about benefits of each option. In the end, it is very personal. I remember laughing when a community midwife was telling us at a refresher class, how wonderful the natural birth centre was, as husbands could stay overnight and sleep in one bed with wives....I thought why on earth would I want him to sleep in my bed that night? I just gave birth! I really did not want anyone in my bed. :-) So yes, a very personal choice, just like many other aspects of life. But one thing I feel great about is that it is over and done with!