Male TV Hosts Go Through the Agony of Giving Birth
Two male Dutch TV hosts known for performing outlandish stunts on their program, “Proefkonijnen” (Guinea Pigs), have recently experienced agonizing pain similar to that of labor, by strapping electrode emitting machines to their abdomens.
“Although women with class privilege such as Susan Faludi or Susan Bordo who write about men express surprise that most men do not see themselves as powerful, women who have been raised in poor and working-class homes have always been acutely aware of the emotional pain of the men in their lives and of their work dissatisfactions. Had Susan Faludi read the work of feminist women of color writing about the poor and working-class men whom we know most intimately, she would not have been 'surprised' to find masses of men troubled and discontent. Women with class privilege have been the only group who have perpetuated the notion that men are all-powerful, because often the men in their families were powerful.”—bell hooks; The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, And Love
Matilda's Birth Story
How do I even start this story, or possibly describe it all with any real justice. It’s going to be a long one, every single moment deserves a hundred words…
Matilda is one whole week old today, it’s hard to believe she hasn’t always been here with us, she feels like an old soul that just belongs with us and has always been around.
I was scheduled for an induction on Sunday, the day before my due date. Matilda was measuring small and the doctors wanted to encourage labour as I came to term rather than let me go overdue.
I was totally disappointed and scared. I had no idea what an induction would end up being like, I knew that generally one intervention often lead to another, and I did not want to be hooked up to an intravenous drip of Syntocin, unable to move around.
Saturday night I was in a nesting frenzy, I cleaned and tidied up everything. Checked our bags, fixed last minor details and then I spent some time alone with Noah before putting him to bed. The last night with just us two. I kissed him and said goodnight, as I laid him down to sleep. My beautiful boy.
We arrived at the hospital at 8am Sunday morning, and we were checked into Birthing Suite 8. After an internal exam showing I was 1cm dilated with a very posterior cervix, they inserted a mild Prostagin gel to ripen my cervix and left us to ourselves for the next six hours. Joe slept while they monitored Matilda on a machine to make sure she was happy with the gel. I dozed off for a little, and enjoyed the peace of the empty labour ward.
The plan was to re-examine me and insert a second lot of gel at 1pm if required, and take it from there. Once an hours worth of monitoring was finished, I was unhooked and free to roam the hospital. I called Mum to check in on Noah, and let her know how I was going. I wandered up and down the different wards and hallways, trying to feel any noticeable differences in my body. Nothing. I was so nervous about being induced, it was new to me. Noah’s labour was spontaneous. So right from the start of the induction I made sure to tune into my body as best as I could and work with it, to help ease my nerves. I cope better when I’m in control and aware of things.
At 12pm I went back up to our room and woke Joe, so we could go downstairs to the cafeteria for lunch. We ate and chatted, I noticed some pressure and aches in my pelvis. I willed it to be something, to turn into labour as I ate my satay meatballs. I wanted my body to progress and work with the gel, I didn’t want to be hooked up to that Syntocin drip.
We then took a walk off hospital grounds, in hopes of helping things along. We hiked into the town center to potter around the shops for a bit. It was cold, and raining. Joe held my hand and gave me his big wooly coat, then laughed at how it made me look like a huge whale.
At 3pm I had been put back on the monitor and had been having around three light tightenings every ten minutes, and was at 2cm. The doctor was happy I’d had enough progress and didn’t need a second lot of gel put in. I was having pretty painless tightenings, but I did have a deep ache in my pelvis which was uncomfortable and made it hard to walk, but other than that I felt pretty good.
They wanted to move me into the post-natal ward overnight, but I asked to go home instead. I told them I’d rather spend my early labour at home where I could relax with my family. I live ten minutes from the hospital, so the doctor agreed it was fine and sent me home with some pain medication to help me sleep.
We went home. I was so happy to see Noah and my mum, we all sat around chatting while my contractions gradually got stronger and closer. I really felt like I was in early labour at that point and thought it would be best to sleep as much as I could. So after dinner Joe and I went to bed to watch tv and get some rest. Mum stayed the night in the lounge, and cared for Noah. Joe and I cuddled up in bed, Joe was rubbing my back and shoulders for me to help me relax while I let the contractions roll over me. We breathed through them together and in between them, talked about nonsense.
We fell asleep for a short while, then I woke at 9pm to steady strong pains every five minutes, I got up and left Joe in bed. I went out and made a cup of tea and sat with Mum. I told her how I was in denial that any real progress would be made because Noah’s labour was so long. I remember thinking to myself that I would only be 3cm dilated and not to get my hopes up.
I went back to bed, only to wake at 12am midnight, having pains every three minutes apart. I turned on my shower in our en-suite and hopped in. The hot water over my body was glorious. It was so quiet, it was so lovely and quiet in there. Just the sound of water running over me. I pressed my face up against the cool shower tiles and leaned into each contraction. I thought to myself, this is the pain that will bring me my baby, I can manage and work with this pain. As the water ran cold I woke Joe and told him it was time to go. Two minutes apart, this was it.
We left home, bags in hand and I kissed my mum goodbye. We arrived at the Birthing ward and was checked back in to our room, number eight. The midwife who would deliver my baby, Katrina, was the same lady who helped deliver Noah. We reacquainted ourselves and hoped for a better experience this time. She set us up comfortably and left us be to labour on. I had to be monitored, so they placed wireless sensors on my belly which left me free to move but not shower or bathe. I was a little upset, because hot water is great pain relief. I glanced up at the clock, It was 12:45am.
After an hour had passed, of which I spent that time pacing the room and leaning over the bed at every contraction. I grunted and breathed. Joe coached my breathing and lent over from the opposite side of the bed, holding both my hands. The room was incredibly hot so our midwife brought in a fan. We put some music on, my Birthing Playlist. It was really good to have something to listen to and enjoy. We had Angus and Julia Stone, Neil Young, Florence + The Machine and Brand New, playing softly in the background.
The contractions were long and hard, but I just kept looking at Joe and reminding myself everything was as it should be. I knew what I was doing, and to trust my body entirely. I felt amazing, like I was just at ease and in total control.
I asked for an internal check, and was told it had only been an hour so not to expect anything major. The midwife told me I was at 7cm, and doing really well. I cried, serious tears of joy. Joe grinned at me, his smiling dimples reflecting the ones he’d passed on to his son, I saw Noah in his face as he smiled and I cried some more. Joe told me he was so proud of me. I was doing it and so far totally drug free.
I laboured on as I entered the transition phase. It was so intense from here on, the contractions were so strong at one point I lost my focus briefly. I yelled, “I can’t do it. I’ve changed my mind and I’m tired, lets go home Joe” but he told me I can do it and already was doing it.
He was wonderful, Joe. Through the whole thing he knew what to do without being asked. He held me, rocked with me side to side, kissed my lips and touched my face. When I stared at his blue eyes through the pains he stared right back into mine with all the energy and intensity that I gave him.
There was so much love and trust between us that night.
I was on all fours, on the floor at the end of the bed. The midwife had laid out a foam mat for me. I had brought my own Zebra print pillow, and I used that to press my face into. It smelled like home, it was comforting. Joe sat cross-legged in front of me so I placed my head on his lap, laid on my side and stretched my whole body out. He stroked my hair and our music filled the room, and my ears. I felt myself totally relax as I breathed in rhythm to the music.
I repeated to myself constantly that this was my labour, I was bringing my daughter into the world. It was beautiful, God did it hurt like fucking Hell but the pain was opening me up just as I needed to be, and I was made to do this. My anatomy was built in perfect form just for this purpose.
I started hallucinating, in the most fantastic way. I felt like I was on the brink of something I will never be able to fully explain, and I hope to never forget. Like I was about to step over the threshold into a strange world that belonged solely to me, and my baby. I was totally alone, on a perilous journey to meet my child. Just us, in between worlds, searching for each other. Joe and the midwife were still beside me, but it was just me within myself. I manifested this world into a vision that I could physically see and meander through. It was so surreal.
The pain was unbearable when it came, it came thick and fast then lulled, I rested in the seconds between contractions. I trekked on, it felt like hours passed as minutes. I was having visions, actual visions of myself walking up a path.
In my mind, on this path, I picked up tiny smooth pebbles with my fingertips, the air was crisp, I could smell the fleshy foliage of the plants around me. Everything was so detailed and exact. I could hear water running gently in the distance. I was walking towards the water. I walked for a while, and the water was getting closer. I arrived waterside, it was a narrow stream. As I reached edge I stepped onto a small boat. It was so bizarre.
The smell, taste and palpable energy of the room shifted all of a sudden, and I asked to be checked again. It had been an hour, I was at 9cm. Almost there…
I used the gas from here on, to help me finish dilating. That was the only drug I used, and how proud am I of myself for that? Extremely proud. I chewed on a wet wash cloth throughout my whole labour. I ground holes into it with my teeth. I needed an output that wasn’t screaming or yelling. I was so hot too, a heat I couldn’t escape no matter who wet me down.
On my boat I was captain, the boat my body; and the ocean my Matilda. The stream gave way into the seas. I called out to her that it was almost time. She rolled through me, she was close. Waves crashed and peaked then washed away to a gentle calm. With every contraction I breathed air right into the bottom of my lungs, I felt them stretch to full capacity and then empty, fifteen. I counted fifteen slow, deep breaths to the peak of the pain and it would gradually subside and lessen. I promised myself this, that there was some relief after the peak and I kept on breathing like that as I steered our vessel into the unknown.
We hit a plateau and it was calm as anything, it was time. I was open and wild. My contractions stopped and I came to, back to the room and I looked around. I looked up at Joe and said it’s time, and asked him to help me onto the bed.
I stood up, Joe supporting me and I walked to the bed. My contractions had lulled, I was grateful. I felt like I didn’t have very long, and to savior the rest. I told our midwife that I would like to push soon. She checked and told me I was at 10cm and to start pushing when I felt ready.
Pushing was so different to laboring, it wasn’t really a relief at all like some women say. It was the most painful part for me.
I was on my back, propped upright and leaning onto my right side. It felt comfortable, to use slight gravity but also be able to lie back between pushes. I pushed with my whole body, at each contraction, having small rests between them. As Matilda slipped right into my pelvis I panicked and swore, but the midwife reassured me and coached me onwards. As she began crowning it burned like hell. I grabbed Joe’s hand and clenched it tight, I looked at his face and pushed down.
I kept my teeth gritted and bared right down, this was the only part of my labour that I screamed during. Just a few short screams to release the tension and relax my jaw.
I heard them say my membranes were still intact and to break them once her head had cleared. I looked down and saw her head within her waters, she was still in her sac. It was mysterious and strange, she was fluid deep and alive in there. I stopped to breathe and wait for my next signal to push and I thought, this is just crazy.
I salvaged this moment like it was my last meal, it was tangible, it was just incredible. I took in every detail possible. Joe was watching quietly on my right hand side, and the room fell silent. She would be born in one more push and this was it. I could feel her shoulders slip further into my birth canal and one final wave was rising…
There is a baby coming out of my body, I am pushing out my daughter and I can see her. She is there. I can feel her, I can touch her, while she is still inside my womb. This is the last time we’ll be one. The very last time I will feel her move within me. It was bitter, it was so bitterly sweet that a hard lump formed in my throat, I shut my eyes and saw myself standing right on the edge of the universe about about to step over and finally give birth my child.
They broke her waters and pale yellow liquid gushed out around my feet and backside. It was warm and she writhed as the air of the room hit her face.
She bore through, me our wave reached its crescendo and with one last scream from me she cleared her exit and her tiny body slipped out.
They placed her on my chest, she was wet and warm, just like her brother. She was perfect. I looked at Joe, and his face broke. He kissed me on the lips, and I cried. Thick tears streamed down my cheeks.
It was 4:58AM.
I kept crying, and held her as she took her first breaths in sync with mine. She sputtered and coughed, Joe cut her cord and we were separated. Everyone in the room marveled at her, and everything was buzzing.
It took me 18 minutes to push her out. It felt like a lifetime had passed in those minutes.
The aura of her was something to really behold, she filled the whole room.
“Do we have a name?”
I looked up at Joe and we knew the name we had picked out fitted, no words were needed. He nodded, and tenderly touched his new daughter’s head.
I spoke and my voice shook. I felt my heart flood and surge, tides of emotion washed over me.
“My daughter, Matilda”
They left her on my bare chest as they bustled around me as my placenta was quickly delivered and I was stitched up for a small tear. There was congratulations and warm words shared, it was pleasant.
The nurses left once everything was all sorted and I was cleaned up. I had a small bleed, a bit more than average but nothing like my last birth. I felt fine. I felt great, I felt so great.
After an hour had passed, some breakfast was brought to me and Matilda latched on to feed. Dawn broke through my window as my baby nursed her first meal, and I ate mine. I fell in love, again.
At 4:58AM, on her due date of the 25th June 2012, Matilda Louise Jackson entered the world. She weighed 7lb 8oz, 50cm long.
The newest character in Our Story.
My labour was perfect, it was eight hours of agony and total bliss. Almost drug free, and I was present and connected with myself and her the whole time. It was amazing. I want to etch in every moment of it, in high definition.
To remember forever.
It is something I am so proud to have experienced and I’m glad I can share the story with you.
2nd July 2012
Photography By Stephanie Newbold