NZ-based Jacqueline Lockington and Natalie Cutler-Welsh (above) have turned a highly successful blog into a book (and e-book), offering real-life parenting tips amid much hilarity and fun.
Here's an extract, from If Only They’d Told Me: Babies, Sex and A Cup of Tea, that describes Jacqui's birth experience and the bumbling antics of first-time parents.
"It all felt very dreamlike, a bit of a blur. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. There was a sense that I had somehow changed and entered a different world. I also felt very emotional and blessed to have Charlie. I was physically extremely sore down below. I was walking like John Wayne and felt like I’d been beaten up."
Vicky, London, one son aged one year
No matter what anyone tells you, giving birth is not easy. It is bloomin’ painful, probably one of the most painful things you will ever have to go through in your life. The screams and puffs and countless swear words you utter while going through it are genuine. I cannot comprehend women who shrug their shoulders and talk about how they just ‘popped out’ a baby recently. How can anyone ‘pop out’ a baby, for goodness’ sake?
Yes, afterwards they may look tiny. And you will probably join in with the cooing of ‘Look how small their little hands and feet are’ once you have recovered from the trauma of the new arrival arriving from your nether regions. But, when you are trying to squeeze them out of an area that really isn’t that big, they don’t feel so tiny then, let me tell you.
I had one friend who told me that giving birth was ‘easy’. Imagine how annoyed I was the first time I had a baby and realised that she was talking out of a hole in her arse. Imagine the names I called her. I won’t repeat them.
I’d like to reassure all you new mums-to-be that any nerves you might have about how your language and bodily functions might degenerate while giving birth are to be put aside. You may be the most prudish, sensible, quiet lady in everyday life, but when you are in labour you will turn into a monster! You will use words you didn’t even know you knew. You will hate your partner and demonstrate it by gripping his arm so tightly that it will leave nail marks scarred on his arm for ever, lest he ever tries anything like that again.
During the birthing process, and indeed the days and weeks afterwards, you will get to know and embrace your body like never before. A woman’s body is capable of the most incredible things. Giving life to someone else, giving food to someone else, opening up and closing up again. Amazing. In the days that follow, breasts will leak, vaginas will bleed, and everything will hurt. During the birthing process, you will probably lose control of your bodily functions. You may vomit. You may poo. You may pee. If you go into fast labour, your body will go into shock and shake. Believe me, at the time, you won’t care. And, let’s face it, the medical team have seen the same thing once or twice before so do not worry. You are no different from anyone else.
As I mentioned before, I had grand illusions of soft music and candlelight while I had a perfectly calm water birth. In reality I screamed for drugs, and shouted at the obstetrician and anyone else nearby. There was no music, no candles and the only water leaking was from me.
As for recognising when you are in labour, everyone is different. With my first it followed the antenatal hand-outs to a T. Waters broke 11 p.m. at night while in bed watching comedy TV. Hubby wasn’t pleased, and accused me of wetting myself while laughing. It didn’t occur to him I was 41 weeks pregnant so it might be something else. Once we had established that it was my waters breaking, he panicked, jumping up and down nervously, not knowing what to do. There were no contractions, however, and I felt fine so we went to bed, agreeing to call the obstetrician in the morning. Two hours later it was a different story. The most incredible deep backache I have ever felt, to the point it was uncomfortable to lie down, sit up, stand up . . . an hour on and I was vomiting and trying desperately to time my contractions. All while hubby slept on peacefully beside me. When I did eventually manage to wake him he had the nerve to turn on the TV to watch the footie (it was the World Cup at the time, I suppose). At 4 a.m. I managed to tear him away from England vs Romania to call the specialist, while I unpacked and repacked my hospital bag five times. Then, off to the hospital we went, he insisting I sit on towels so as not to ruin his car.
I was worried about being turned away — you hear about women who go to the hospital only to be told they are only a couple of centimetres dilated and being sent home to wait. I was bracing myself for that, so was very relieved (and proud!) when the midwife told me, ‘You’re eight centimetres dilated. Why didn’t you come in earlier? You’ve done the hard bit yourself now.’ My self-congratulations didn’t last too long, however, when I realised: 1. She was lying. If I had done the hard bit at home then what the **** was I doing now then?
2. Because I was so far gone, they refused to give me an epidural, despite my begging, yelling and offer of marriage to the anaesthetist.
Despite that, hubby and I were under the illusion that once you were in the hospital, you had lots of time to kill. I was in stirrups on the bed in my blue hospital gown when hubby kissed me on the head and said, ‘Be back in a jiff. Just going to make some calls.’ The midwife looked at us both in disbelief as I nodded and said, ‘I think I’ll try to get a bit of shut-eye now before the baby comes.’
‘You’re not going anywhere,’ she announced to hubby in her Irish twang. ‘And as for you, missy, I don’t know how you think you will be getting any sleep. Your baby is coming now.’ She was right. Once she had said it out loud, there he was, in all his glory (although with much more drama than that, of course!).
Every birthing story is different. You might have a lovely water birth with everything serene around you. You might, like Nat, be unlucky enough to give birth in an earthquake. You may have elected to have a C-section for health or other reasons. Or you may be really unlucky and go through hours of labour only to have to be rushed into an emergency C-section after all.
Chances are your birth will be different from what you planned, in some way. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Keep your eye on the goal. It’s better to have a healthy baby after all, no matter how they arrived in the world.
This is an extract from If Only They’d Told Me: Babies,
Sex and A Cup of Tea by Jacqueline Lockington and
Natalie Cutler-Welsh, RRP$27 on Amazon and RRP$29.99 in bookshops nationwide.
The e-book,(left) costs RRP$9 on Amazon.