I will never know for sure, but I think a big factor in my birth experience was my feeling of confidence and self-efficacy. Thanks to the women who shared their positive birth stories with me, I could so clearly visualise a calm, positive birth of my own. I'd played it out in my mind that many times, is it so surprising that the reality was just that?
It reminded me of an overflowing bath. Suddenly, all joy was gone. I went to my newborn daughter, who was lying on my wife's chest, and I tried to talk, but my heart had started pumping ice around my body. I told everyone I was going to pass out and just as they sat me on the chair, I did exactly that.
I had slumped down in a chair and was unaware of the commotion, as a swarm of doctors and midwives surrounded me and hoisted me up onto a bed. A short time later, I opened my eyes to find myself breathing through an oxygen mask and shaking uncontrollably. All I could hear repeatedly were the words, 'We need blood!'
The real truth is none of us own a crystal ball or a time machine so predicting how your baby's birth will be for real just isn't possible. So you end up perceiving a birth experience that's unhelpful, filling you with anxiety when you should be looking forward to meeting your baby for the first time.
Looking back at my article as I have done so many times (in embarrassment and regret) since it has been published, I realise that I felt like I had some kind of sense of entitlement as I lay shouting in that hospital. Yes I was in agony. Yes I was scared. But what about the emergencies that were being dealt with whilst this was happening?
As my youngest daughter approaches her eighth week on this earth and I feel as if the waves of hormonal emotions are levelling out, I've been enjoying taking the time to reflect on all that Aluna Grace's birth brought earth-side. It's really quite amazing when I think about it....Ooh, there go the tear ducts...again....
I'm sure you have a knowing grin on your face already having just read the title of this piece. What is with the Hollywood portrayal of birth? I mean lets face it, there's not a lot of glamour involved. I thought I would look at some common movie-birth themes, and compare them with a dash of reality.