“Leave your dignity in the car”.
That’s what Dr M said when I called childbirth “barbaric”. In my defence, when I said that, she was breaking my waters – technically, that is. In reality, she was destroying my dignity. Don’t ask me why, at that moment, all I could think about was dignity and pride, but that was how I felt at the time.
Granted, all this was self-induced. A full seven days after The Princess’ due date and she was showing absolutely no signs of arrival. In those seven days, I’d had someone rear-end me down Corlett Drive and I’d enacted all the B.S. tricks to get babies to be born: I’d eaten enough spicy food to send Mumbai running to the loo, I’d drunk potions and lotions and herbal teas, I’d gone for walks, I’d bounced on gym balls, I’d visualised my baby, talked to her, written her name on my birthday calendar for 26 March (five days after her due date) and still… NOTHING. And so, on Monday 28 March, at my one week post due date check up, I asked to be induced.
Had I known the kind of pain and indignity that went with induction, I may not have done so. But I didn’t and so it was that I found myself flat on my back in a hospital bed with medics trying to get this baby to make an appearance. After starting the induction process, Dr M told me she’d be back to check on me in two and a half hours.
When she walked in at midday, I could tell by her arched eye-brow that things weren’t progressing as planned.
“Oh,” she said, “You’re reading your book.”
I took that to mean that I was supposed to be writhing in pain with contractions, but at that point, I felt nothing. So yes, while The Husband was out foraging for food, rather than watch the splendid offerings of daytime TV on SABC 2, I was reading my book.
And that’s when she moved in for the kill: the breaking of the waters. Thank God The Husband was out finding food at that moment because I don’t think he would’ve recovered from watching the process. Afterwards, I was holed up in the loo when The Husband called to tell me he was on his way back. He wanted to know why I was crying. The only way I could think to explain the barbarism I’d just suffered was to sob, “I feel like a CAVE WOMAN!”
I also tried to explain my sobs to Dr M.
“It’s just so barbaric!!” SNIFF, SNIFF, HEAVE, HEAVE. “I feel like I’ve been stripped of all dignity!”
And that’s when she told me that when you check in to have a baby, you leave your dignity in the car.
“You’ll get it back when you go home,” she assured me…