'I Had A Guest List For Giving Birth'
By Posted on 1 May 2018
When a Kardashian gives birth, she does so surrounded by a whole entourage – sisters, friends, momagers, stepfathers, cameramen. So I wasn’t surprised to hear, via TMZ, that Khloé Kardashian reportedly delivered her daughter, True, in the presence of mum Kris, best friend Malika, sisters Kourtney and Kim (who held Khloé’s leg, because Khloé held hers during her labour – it’s a whole leg-labour thing) and even baby-daddy Tristan, despite ill-timed cheating rumours.
When I was pregnant (and freaking out), I found old footage of Kris giving birth to Kendall and Kylie really comforting. It’s like they do labour in the same way they do Super Bowl Sunday or Thanksgiving – it’s just a regular thing, a get-together. The idea of labour being hidden and private supported the rumours I’d heard that I might do things I wouldn’t want people to see, like shit myself, or die. So, a couple of months before my due date, I got to compiling the guest list.
My husband Rich would obviously have to be there because he’s the dad, but also because he works at the hospital so would know where the free stuff was stashed. Then there was my mum, who said she’d coax me through the bloody ordeal with aromatherapy.
I had my doubts as to how helpful a bottle of lavender oil would be versus a shot of pethidine, but thought it would be comforting. If my mum was invited, I figured Dad might as well tag along (he’d know better than to be at the business end). Then I thought I should probably invite my mother-in-law if everyone else would be there. If I was epiduralled up, it might be fine? But I really wanted my best friend there too, because she’s such a calming influence. And she’d want to bring her husband, but that was fine because he always had good snacks on him.
And, like the Kardashians, I’d want my own gynaecologist, someone who already knew her way around my vagina. I also wanted a doula to act as mediator between me and all the other people and remind everyone it was about ME and to stop asking the midwives for a cuppa. Plus,he or she would know all about birth, whereas none of the rest of us did. And a reflexologist would be good. Why not make her another member of Team Get The Baby Out Of The Fanny Or Belly Without Anyone Dying?
Ultimately, I thought the more support I had and the more resources I had to throw at the pain and fear, the better the whole experience would be. And all those people would share in this joyous moment and we’d all be bonded together forever.
It turned out my husband was quite anti the idea, however. He worried that family members and friends would interfere, crowd us and block his view of his child’s birth. He wanted it to be just the two of us.
My response was a bit, ‘UNTIL YOU BECOME THE ONE TO GIVE BIRTH I DON’T GIVE A TINY RAT’S ASS.’ And I still planned on texting everyone when my contractions started.
Then the day came and I was like a lone wolf. A lone wolf on a yoga ball. It’s possible that this complete change of tack was due to the fact that labour began with a lot of pooing, which feels best done privately.
It was about 12am when that was done so I didn’t think I should wake anyone up to say, ‘I had a poo, guys.’ And, interestingly, when it did get more painful, company was the last thing I fancied. Even Rich was dispatched so I could go into my own world and not acknowledge what was going on. I was coping by breathing through the pain, sure that I was hours, if not days, away from giving birth.
Now I look back on it, it makes sense. Of course, lots of women feel comforted by the presence of loved ones but, when I’m sick, I like to be alone, and it felt safer in that moment – and more natural somehow– to be unwatched, to do whatever came naturally without fear of judgement or interference. Eventually, it was Rich who insisted we needed help and corralled me into the car.
Off we went to the hospital and, since it was 7am on a Sunday, the assessment unit was mercifully empty. I carried on pacing and mooing in private.
I was almost free-birthing – which is when you do it 100% alone – but an hour in I started to bleed quite heavily. At that point, it was comforting having someone telling me what to do and checking the baby wasn’t coming out feet first. But still I felt alone inside my head – I was in an animal moment of absolute focus, and the women poised at the fanny end were like air-traffic controllers, just kind of waving it out, making sure nothing crashed or exploded.
It didn’t occur to me in the moment to call anyone, not even my mum. A registrar came in to perform an episiotomy, but I didn’t actually ever see her because she was sort of hidden between my legs. Then, suddenly, my baby was born and, after a couple of stitches (which I’m glad my dad and best mate’s husband weren’t there for, actually), everyone left the room. It was just me, my husband and our baby, staring at each other. Rich says there was a midwife delivering tea and toast and, since I hadn’t made it out of the assessment room, there were pregnant women just beyond the curtain being palpated and weighed, but I felt like we were all alone. And it felt amazing.
‘Mum Face: The Memoir Of A Woman Who Gained A Baby And Lost Her Sh*t’ by Grace Timothy (£12.99, HarperCollins) is out now
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