Friday, September 20, 2013 6:00 AM by Marina
The weekend before giving birth to my first child, I was in the audience of a hypnotist show. (In my defence we were having dinner at the local surf club and he was the entertainment that followed.)
The hypnotist chose three men to join him on stage. After what seemed like only a few seconds of mind-talking, the three guys were completely under his spell. To be sure, he made them run around making stupid animal noises. To be frank, that didn't convince me. Not in your average surf club.
The piece de resistance came when he decided they should simulate childbirth. He told them they were nine months pregnant and the contractions were starting. It was as though they had been shot at close range in the kneecaps. The screaming was wild and piercing. I closed my eyes, as the very suggestion made me feel a tightness across the middle. I was, after all, eight and a bit months' pregnant. With eyes shut, the yelling sounded like what I imagined a full labour ward might.
Next he told them the baby was crowning. I started to feel subtle twinges at that suggestion. I would later discover that this was the beginning of my actual contractions. The men on stage were bellowing. I honestly had never heard anything like it, and haven't since. One of them started swearing. I had to stand up and go for a walk.
I returned a couple of minutes later to inform my husband that I needed to go home. All of this simulated birth stuff was making me feel extremely uncomfortable physically. As we departed the men were giving birth. Anyone walking by would have been excused for thinking that people were being murdered en masse in the surf club that night. It was truly ugly.
As we walked the five minutes along the street to our home I began to reflect on what lay ahead for me. I was already terrified of childbirth and had experienced a couple of
panic attacks at the very thought.
(Tip: anyone who hasn't experienced childbirth and plans to should probably stop reading now.)
Childbirth was the single most physically painful event in my life to date. My first child was a forceps delivery from hell. Five hours after witnessing three grown men reduced to gibbering masses of pain while simulating childbirth, and four weeks ahead of plan, I was in labour. My husband drove me to the hospital where I immediately asked to be given every drug imaginable. At that point it was more fear of the pain I had witnessed the evening before than actual real pain. I figured that a pre-emptive drug strike would avoid that seeming hell.
There is no doubt that when the full force of the late contractions kicked in it was more pain than I ever hoped to have to bear. But the midwives wouldn't give me drugs; I hadn't started to wail apparently. She told me I was tough and could deal with the pain at that point.
When it became evident that the baby needed to come out, and quickly, I was told I had missed the opportunity for an epidural. So I was given a local injection (I did warn you) and forceps were used. I looked across at my husband who had turned a whiter shade of pale and was asking for gas, to ensure he was ok.
I am sure that I screamed and moaned during the delivery because the experience was a living hell. But I am also 100% certain that I never once reached the decibel levels of the three men at the surf club who never actually had to expel another person from their body and never will.
So my tolerance for man-pain is pretty low. Which is unfortunate for my poor husband who has been in pain all week with a pinched nerve running down his arm. I can't help but consider the 'moaning to possible pain ratio' relative to the four days that I had to sit on a donut post childbirth popping heavy-duty painkillers.
Is it just me?
By Marina Go