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Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine: 31 - Baby Woodward

…I suddenly felt frightened. How could I look after this baby, I thought? I know nothing about baby care.
I quietly said, “I don’t want to go through with this, Woody.” “It’s a bit bloody late now girl”, he answered. As always, pragmatic…

Gayle Woodward tells of the pain, wonder and delight of childbirth.

My due date came and went. I was seeing the doctors at the clinic weekly and was told to come in when contractions were regular and /or my waters had broken. However on the last visit it was noticed that my blood pressure had increased noticeably, and I was told that if nothing occurred naturally, I was to present myself on the 20th for induction. In the meantime I was to take things easy and sit with my swollen legs up.

Nothing did happen so on a spring Saturday morning in August we left our little house with a suitcase packed for me and baby clothes for our baby to wear home. As we drove up Mountain Road towards the maternity hospital, I suddenly felt frightened. How could I look after this baby, I thought? I know nothing about baby care.

I quietly said, “I don’t want to go through with this, Woody.” “It’s a bit bloody late now girl”, he answered. As always, pragmatic.

We were puzzled as to where to enter the hospital. I had been told that there was a lift that you could enter from the car park which would take you straight to delivery suite. But I wasn’t in labour. It seemed silly to use this method of entry. We didn’t want people rushing at us as we walked in. However, there was no other way as far as we could see, so we entered the lift.

At the delivery floor we were expected and forms were filled out and I was taken to a prep room. Woody was told to wait outside. I was shaved around the birth area with a blunt razor by a nurse who looked as if she wanted to be anywhere than with me.

I was given an enema by being filled with copious amounts of warm water and then told to walk to the toilet and wait for it all to be expelled. Oh, the embarrassment! And me, the princess who could feel that pea under all those mattresses!

At nine o’clock, I was walked to the theatre, a most scary place, clinical with large lights and lots of cruel looking equipment. I had to lie on a short and narrow bed with my feet in stirrups, the most undignified position imaginable. The baby’s sac of water was broken, the method of doing this I do not know, and a warm gush of water covered the table. It was a painless procedure.

I was given an injection to start my labour and was taken to a room to rest. Woody arrived beside me and we waited and waited and waited. Nothing occurred although I became rather sleepy. At midday, Woody left to get some food. The nurses told him to go home and that they would phone him when things got interesting.

I was sad when he left. Around me unseen but heard were women in labour, groaning and occasionally screaming. It was rather frightening. At times, but seldom, a nurse would come in to check me. “Nothing happened yet?” she would snap. I felt like apologising. I was an annoyance to them and just a patient who was not sick, not a person. I slept.

Suddenly at three o’clock I was rudely awakened by my first strong contraction. I was shocked. I was powerless to stop this and I did not like not being in control. The nurse returned. I was so pleased to be able to tell her that indeed something had happened. She dismissed me by telling me, “Oh, you are only in the early stages. You’ll be hours yet”.

I waited expectantly for the next pain. They were strong and eight minutes apart. I needed to go to the toilet and wondered if I was allowed to leave my bed. I hoped the baby would not fall into the toilet. By four thirty the pains had moved to my lower back and I was groaning with the intensity of it.

My grumpy nurse, to give her, her dues, had phoned Woody to come and he was suddenly beside me. I was so happy to see him. “It’s awful”, I muttered through my pain. “Could you rub my back?” He began to massage my back. It helped. “Harder!’’ I ordered. He obliged. ‘Harder more!” I insisted. “Lower!” was my next command and then later “Lower again”. Woody came to a stop. “I can’t go any lower and I can’t rub any harder’ he puffed.

I was in real distress when a new nurse arrived in the room. “Oh my goodness”, she declared, “Why didn’t you call us?’ I was examined and declared to be ready for delivery. I was thankful that it all seemed to be nearly over. I was wheeled to the delivery suite and Woody was asked to wait in the waiting room where fathers-to-be nervously skimmed through magazines and paced and looked at the floor.

The delivery theatre was full of people and lights and equipment. I was given a gas mask to hold and told to use it when the contractions got bigger. Bigger, I thought? The next wave of pain hit me. I clasped the mask over my nose and mouth. Nothing happened. “Take a big breath!” I was told. I had been holding my breath during the pains and was amazed to be told now to breathe through it.

The following few contractions were huge and I cried out, then remembered the mask and sucked at the gas fiercely. From then on I was quite numb and suddenly was told to push down. The pain stopped, to be replaced by a feeling of tearing pressure. Another push and in a warm slithering shock, our baby was born.

“You’ve got a boy!” someone announced. ‘Is he alright?” I asked anxiously. I could see the doctor pushing a tube down his throat and I was very afraid. “He’s fine”, said the doctor, “a lovely big baby boy”.

And then they gave him to me and I fell in love. His eyes were open and he was blinking at me. He had dark hair and was frowning so he looked puzzled. He clutched the finger I gave him to hold.

Woody was escorted into the room to meet his son for the first time. He had a huge grin on his face and looked very proud. The baby was long and weighed 8lbs 14ozs. He was born at seven thirty at night after a short four hour labour.

We were given a phone to call Mum and Dad with the news and Woody’s parents also. This baby was the first grandchild for both couples so was very cherished from the first minute of his life. Baby Woodward went to the nursery where he would stay for the duration and I went to a recovery room to sleep. Woody went home to cigars all round, I believe. I think that Peter visited him and they went out but have never been party to the goings on that evening.


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