Big Baby

Posted by on Aug 15, 2016 in Writings

Big Baby

I have a tendency towards giving birth to large babies. It seems to run in the family. I was 5 kg (11lbs) at birth and my three younger sisters were between 4-4,5 kg (8,8 – 10 lbs) at birth.

Growing up I was always tall for my age (my nickname was High Tower at school) – I am 1,83 cm (6ft) tall as an adult and I have been this height since I was twelve years old. I inherited long legs from my father who had to duck his head to walk through doorways and my paternal grandfather’s nickname was Giraffe.

So when I gave birth at 38 weeks pregnant to a 5kg (11 lbs) baby boy (over an intact perineum) with my mother in attendance as my midwife, no one in my family blinked an eye at his weight. Life went on. It was only during my second pregnancy when I met with my new midwife and she nearly fell off her chair at the mention of my first baby’s birth weight, that I realised that perhaps my story was slightly unusual.

My second baby, a girl, was born 9 days past her ‘due date’ and was ‘only’ 4kg at birth. Even though she was a whole kg lighter than her brother, she was much harder to birth because she had decided to emerge facing sunny side up.

Ouch!

(But she too was birthed over an intact perineum).

My third baby decided that he quite liked it in there and decided to incubate more than two weeks past his due date. Ten years ago today, I was heavily pregnant with him, waiting for him to trigger his labour. His head sat low and I waddled my way very slowly through my day. There were many false starts  and false labour alarms and by the time the twinges began, I and everyone else in my circle of friends and in family, had decided that I was going to be pregnant forever. Ten years ago today, I would still have to wait another five days before labour began.

It was a sunny Sunday morning, during my morning yoga session, that the sharp twinges in my cervix began. These twinges propelled me into a mad nesting frenzy – I hung curtains (I remember hammering nails furiously into the window frame) and I scrubbed floors on all fours until the wood gleamed. I washed, hung, folded, and packed away laundry. I even cooked a massive pot of vegetable stew – enough to feed roughly 15 people!

And in-between doing all of this, intense surges would slam into my cervix, opening me up to the bliss of heaven and agony of hell simultaneously.

I remember rocking my hips in the sun whilst hanging the fluttering laundry, and as the contractions grew, so did my strength. I had to channel that strength somewhere or else the pain of it would overwhelm me. So I pushed against a wall with all my strength, willing, believing, that I could push it over. That is how strong I felt.

And yet, I was an ant trying with all its might to push over a brick.

At some point, children were fetched.

The midwives arrived.

Counter pressure on my hips eased the intensity for a while.

The birth pool was filled. I remember stepping into it and feeling as though I was stepping into the warmth and privacy and comfort of the womb.

What bliss!

What calm!

What peace!

Then I was overwhelmed again, drowning in surges of unbelievable pain. And with each surge the pain was ten times stronger than the one before. I had never experienced labour so intense before…with seemingly no respite, no chance to get the hang of the next wave…each wave more powerful that the one before. In previous labours, I had learned to navigate, but in this labour, I just had to let go and hope I would not drown.

I can’t do this! I shouted, No! No! No!

Try saying ‘Yes,’ The assistant midwife whispered to me.

What the Fuck?! I thought and flashed her the evil eye.

Just try it, she whispered.

Yes…I said begrudgingly, through clenched teeth.

But as the next surge came, the word Yes transformed my feelings of hopelessness and drowning, to feeling like I was a cowboy astride a bucking bronco. I was no more in control of the labour than before, but instead of feeling like I was being trampled underfoot, I could wave my Stetson triumphantly in the air.

Yeeha!

Then everything shifted and my body began to bear down. That confusing feeling where a coconut seems to try to force itself out of your vagina and anus simultaneously.

Oh my God, I need the toilet!

No…the midwives said, It is the baby coming. There is not need to get out of the pool.

No! I need the toilet!

I clambered out of the bath.

Wet. Heaving. Primal. Powerful. Roaring. Mad.

I lumbered down the corridor to the loo. There, as I sat on my cold porcelain throne, I was stretched and pulled further apart as I opened wider.

I reached down.

A slimy head was beginning to stretch my perineum. Bloody snot covered my hand. I roared as another surge hit me and I threw the blood stained mucous across the room.

Where is it? a midwife asked. I ignored her as I heaved myself off the loo and tried to escape this monumental experience.

(the mucous plug I had thrown across the room was later found on a bar of soap resting on the edge of the basin)

His head emerged as I trundled down the corridor and was crossing the threshold of my bedroom door. blue.

My legs stiffened with the next contraction but the rest of his body did not emerge as his face began to turn blue.

Get on the bed, my midwife commanded firmly.

I can’t! I wailed pathetically, My legs are stuck!

They were stiff and cramping.

But my baby was stuck, one of his shoulders were impacted against my pubic bone. I needed to change position.

Get on the bed, she repeated firmly, looking me in the eyes. I don’t know how it is that I moved. Perhaps it was her voice or the look in her eyes, but something propelled me onto my bed where I found myself on my back with the assistant midwife applying suprapubic pressure and my midwife urging me to pull back my legs as she manoeuvred my son out. He suddenly shot out as his shoulder dislodged and he was immediately placed on my chest, where despite being a little blue in the face, he spluttered and cried.

Later he was weighed and he clocked in at 5, 47 kg (12lbs) the largest of his siblings.

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(and yes, even though he needed some assistance with getting his shoulders past my pubic bone, he was still born over an intact perineum).

He also got to be in the newspaper for that one…his little claim to fame.

We named him Ayo, which means ‘happy’ in Ghanian.

Happy birthday Ayo for this coming Saturday.

Love you…

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