TMD rolls me into Labour & Delivery at 8 am. My stomach is stretched out to my knees, my shirt pulled into a shape it will never recover from. I am nervous, but happy. Excited, and scared.
I walk into a different hospital at 8 am. TMD’s dad is there with me, reading signs and pointing the way to the ward where I’ll get ready to go into Theatre to have my pain injections. We walk up to the reception desk, and for some reason when they ask my name, I say it like this: Pineapple. Penelope Pinapple. The rest of the day the main nurse will call me Pineapple, and by the time I realise she isn’t saying Ms. Pineapple it’s too late to correct her. The other nurses realise my name is Penelope, but they are unsure of themselves as their boss is sure it’s Pineapple. So everyone starts mumbling my name.
I was told I’d be the first birth, but upon arrival I’m told there is an emergency case and I’ll have to wait. I sit in a waiting room for ages, before finally being shown into a private labour room. TMD changes into scrubs, I am stuffed into two hospital gowns. We begin to wait. And wait.
I am hustled into a ward and the doctor immediately meets with me. ‘Here are possible side effects: heavy leg, bleeding, worsening pain.’ There are more. I don’t really take them in; he clasps me on the shoulder and says, ‘You will be fine. You’re young and healthy.’ Nurses put hospital bracelets on both wrists, then add bright red bracelets to warn people I’ll puke if I’m even in the same room as Morphine. There is no waiting. I am moved seamlessly from one section to another.
I look at the hospital curtains, so different from the curtains in the rooms I stayed when pregnant. I wonder what Snort and Coconut are doing right now. I hope I’ll be home so I can spend most of their birthday with them.
Finally I am wheeled into Theatre. My epidural/spinal takes a record breaking hour to get in. I feel every time the needles jab into me.
Finally I walk into theatre, ghosts of that terrible pain from two years still lingering. Today is a day to begin exorcing those ghosts. I am happy I am wearing a robe, because we walked through the whole hospital and…hospital gowns? Ass flashing.
A needle is pushed into my hand. I climb onto a table and lay facedown, a huge x ray machine over my head. The doctor is asking for x gauge needles, red tipped needles, green needles – and worst of all? A spinal needle. Jesus. Still, I’m not worried.
Then he begins poking and I flinch and he seems surprised the seditive has done nothing. I get another dose. I feel every needle jamming into my joint. By the time the third injection site is reached, the sedation has properly kicked in.
By the time they tell me they’re going to take Snort out, unreality has flooded me. My body is totally numb, but my heart is so full. He is held over the curtain, in those seconds I gulp him in. A minute later Coconut is held up but all I see is her little foot. The memory is burned into my mind.
The whole birth happened so quickly; it’s over so fast.
It’s over so fast. I was in theatre for no more than a half hour – and that’s at the absolute most – and I’ve been jabbed and poked and prodded. A lot. I am asked to roll onto a gurney and pushed back through the hospital. I think about what I have learned: my back left joint shows much more wear and tear than the right. I am cleared to begin Pilates. It will take fourteen days to feel the full benefit of the shots.
I am rolled into recovery and I begin to wait. My blood pressure is low.
My blood pressure has been creeping up the whole pregnancy, but it’s never mentioned as a possible issue again once my son and daughter are with me. The waiting is over. Life kicks into a hugely high gear. There is no time for anything, not even eating. When meals are delivered, we wait until they are cold and then TMD spoonfeeds me, as I use my hands to cradle two babies to my breasts. I am so busy.
I am so bored. The porters kept me waiting for a gurnney ride back to the ward, and once back on the ward I am still held captive with no clothes, no bags. I am in a room with four other women, and we slowly begin to talk and trade war stories. Four of us are there because we just had needles of every size and description pushed into our muscles and joints. One is there awaiting a surgery. We talk, we laugh, we bond in two hours.
There is no time to talk to anyone, and I end up in a private room. It’s full – so full – of all our stuff. My bite sized snacks. Nipple cream. Endless nappies and tiny baby onesies. So full of stuff but so little talking, because, my god, THE PAIN. My SPD is so bad I need a midwife, or TMD, to grab my ankles, hold my legs together, and lift them onto the bed. I cannot walk at all. Standing is difficult.
A physiotherapist tells me it’ll take 5-6 months to clear up. I am relieved she seems so definite, that this pain will go away, but worried it will take so long.
It’s been two years since the day they were born, and SPD has been with me every step of the day. I’ve lived in constant pain, though the intensity has shifted.
I’ve had these injections, this day in hospital, and I know I’ll be back for the second round of injections in another month.
As I love these babies so hard, I already know I want more. But I wonder if I’ll ever be back, if I’ll have more children from my own body. The risk may be too great.
Still, after five (seven?) days in hospital, I go home with these people accompanying me:
After less than five hours in hospital, I get to go home. I am shaky and find it surprisingly tiring and difficult to walk to the car. But my eye is on the prize. I get to go home to these people:
One day, and my life is changed so much. I’m a MOTHER.
One day, and I don’t know if it will change my life. I have to wait and see what happens, have to get more injections and physio before we can see how things are. But it’s also been two years, two years of kissing baby necks. Watching them learn and grow without me needing to try to teach them anything. Two years of dirty nappies and triumphs ranging from the small to amazing. Two years to get from babies to walking, talking, wonderous children.
The pain of pregnancy was worth it. It is worth it, I think, as I sleep every night with them beside me.
The pain of pregnancy was worth it. It was worth it, I think, as I watch my naked children screaming in joy and chasing each other around in the garden.