A watermelon with earmuffs broke my vagina.

Before we start, I want to say that I actually found this really hard to write. Giving birth was the hardest, scariest, most traumatic and most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done; and while I will ultimately relay the tale with my usual candour and transparency, I have never been so physically and emotionally vulnerable in my life. It has been difficult to present some parts with the same level of humour that my others stories might have. Don’t worry though. I say the word VAGINA a lot.

Well it had to happen eventually.

I had my baby! Finally, our gorgeous little Thomas George arrived into the world. A perfect male specimen, with all limbs and appendages in check. Blue eyes for days, spitting image of his dad with the exception of his “resting bitch face” which undoubtedly is a maternal trait. And of course he entered the world in the typical dramatic flair I have come to expect from the Quilty’s.

In the days leading up, I had some minor “pre-labour” symptoms. Nothing dramatic and they really just annoyed me more than anything because I felt like I was in perpetual baby limbo. Until I woke up on the 13th at 05:30 and was having actual real contractions – FINALLY! (Ha, I can laugh now at my impatience. I wasn’t even overdue.) I could provide you with details of how I dealt with the first stage of labour, but honestly it’s boring. Basically the contractions got longer in duration, occurred more frequently throughout the day and increased in intensity. It wasn’t actually that bad. As birthing experiences go, this part was completely doable. The contractions weren’t painful, just uncomfortable and I was kind of thinking I had this shit nailed. I honestly wondered if it was actually legitimately happening because it felt too easy. (Don’t worry, I ate my words later.) Hindsight tells me I should have used the day to sleep. That was a rookie error. SLEEP ladies. Sleep like you’ll never sleep again. Because you won’t. Ever again.

For those who don’t know, we chose to go to a midwife-run birth centre to have the baby instead of through the general hospital system or obstetrician. Birth centres provide low intervention care and we got to be case managed by the same midwife throughout the entire pregnancy and birth. They’re big promoters of a positive birth experience, trying natural and non-pharmaceutical methods to deal with pain and allow you to trust your body to do the job it’s supposed to do. I wanted to really experience what it was like to give birth because I just can’t imagine ever having another instance in life where I would feel that… alive? Human? I don’t know, I just wanted to feel it. God knows why. I ate those words later too. (Sidebar: The birth centre and their staff were absolutely amazing and I’d highly recommend for any mother to be.)

So, we went in at 9:30pm, when the contractions were 3 minutes apart and I was about 6cm dilated. I was already getting tired by then having been in pre-labour all day, but lucky I brought my turbo-husband along for the ride. Chatting a mile a minute offering me, the midwife and the midwifery student ice blocks, chips and a variety of other snacks he had packed for the occasion. You’d think he was hosting a party. Totally in his element.

The contractions by now were way more painful – I had started to feel them in my back. It sort of resembled someone shoving hot pokers into your kidneys and twisting them round and round for 90 seconds at a time. Kinda started to get why women asked for epidurals and drugs, however I persevered, reminding myself that this is what I wanted and got into the water. I stayed in there for awhile, having a lovely chat with everyone in between contractions and having that positive birth experience I always wanted. Things were progressing nicely.

Until they weren’t. Because suddenly everything slowed right down. The midwife suggested I get out of the water and start moving around. And let me tell you, I’ve never looked so graceful. I was completely naked, my legs were shaky and wobbly and once I started moving, every 3 minutes or so I would let out an almighty groan that even to my own ears resembled a dying cow/prehistoric beast. I did this for awhile in an attempt to speed things along before getting back in the water when I couldn’t handle it anymore. We were all tired, so much so that Mick began nodding off mid-sentence. So the midwife suggested he have a nap, because quote “you’ll be useless later on when it comes time to push.” Yes, you heard right. Because HE will be useless when it comes time to push. Excuse me a moment.

HE GETS TO HAVE A NAP?! I’ve been up since 5:30am with a tiny person trying to crawl out of my vagina and MICHAEL gets to have a nap?! THE FUCKING INJUSTICE! And of course he falls asleep within about a minute while I, his wife and one true love, continue to labour to bring OUR child into the world. If I wasn’t already focused on another important task like GIVING BIRTH, I would have ripped him a new one. Pun intended.

By this stage, another woman had come into the room next door and was labouring loudly. Seriously she had this amazing, Amazonian, guttural roar that I could have found empowering but instead sent me into a clusterfuck of fear and anxiety. She was loud enough that she woke Mick up. And it wasn’t long until we heard her baby cry. Which made me cry with fury because WE WERE HERE FIRST! WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?! Our labour was literally going on forever. This baby was never going to come and I was going to end up in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest pregnancy/labour ever recorded in the history of humankind. The midwife recognised my hysteria (I think she had become familiar with my quirks by now) and decided to re-examine me.

Funny thing about being “examined.” It’s one of those moments when you realise you have no dignity left. I was lying on the floor, naked, legs spread, panting and groaning with each contraction, red-faced from the hot water and sucking on a pipe (because by this stage I needed gas and air). Basically, I looked a million bucks. Then to add a touch more class, another woman shoves her hand up my vagina and fiddles around in there. Not as much fun as it sounds. Apparently my waters were “bulging” and then with a bit more of a fiddle and a pop, they flowed right out of me.

Actually, there. That’s when I lost any remnants of dignity. Nothing quite like soaking the shoes of your midwife and husband with fluid quite literally gushing out of your vagina. Once your self-respect has disappeared, you suddenly don’t care who sees what. I can now safely boast that I have vomited, urinated and defecated in front of more people than I would usually be comfortable – in the toilet not during delivery. (In 5 years together I had avoided ever going to the toilet in front of my husband up until now. I know some people are sweet with a communal bathroom situation – I am not one of them. But there’s no mystery there now. He’s seen everything. And as far as I’m aware, nothing else was pushed out during the delivery other than a baby and if it did, Mick and the midwife happily kept that to themselves.) I dilated the remaining centimetres and then it came time to push.

MOTHER OF LADY GAGA. Imagine the biggest poo you’ve ever had to do in your life. Then multiply it by a million and that’s what childbirth feels like. You strain and push and it literally feels like a fucking ring of fire… Everything burns. The gas and air was taken off me because I was focusing on that rather than “effective pushing.” (Can you blame me? It made me feel drunk, which I hadn’t experienced in 9 months. That shit was awesome.) The Amazonian woman next door had nothing on me… I screamed myself hoarse. I have NEVER felt pain like it. But at the same time, I kind of completely disassociated from it. I was aware that it was painful and that I was PUSHING A HUMAN OUT OF MY VAGINA, but at the same time I kind of felt distanced from it, like I was watching myself do it.

Finally, I felt the head come out. It came out with a pop and kind of shocked me a little – I think I was still skeptical that this baby would ever arrive. I was still contracting, but I wasn’t supposed to push, just to “pant” my way through the next little bit – hardest thing to do when every part of your body is screaming at you to push the rest of the little person out. Things seemed to stall for a minute. Then the midwife’s tone of voice changed. She said that the baby’s chin was stuck and she was trying to loosen it before I was able to push any further.

You know when you can hear it in someone’s voice that they are not shitting around and you better do what they say? That was her. Suddenly she told Mick to help me stand, because the baby was stuck and she couldn’t see what was happening properly. Mick just jumped up and did it, no questions. He supported my upper torso while I balanced precariously on my wobbly legs and offered words of love and encouragement. Never have I loved that man more. I was absolutely terrified. I couldn’t feel what was happening though found out later that the midwife had loosened the cord from around the baby’s neck. Once the cord was loosened, he quickly turned his head (another sharp pain I was NOT expecting) and slid right out, caught deftly by the midwife before he could splash back into the water.

Nothing could have prepared me for watching another person enter this world. Months of worrying, waiting, researching, talking about and listening to other women’s birth stories and I have never been so surprised or overwhelmed in my life. I gathered up my baby, both Mick and I desperate to find out who this little person was and finally I was able to say “it’s a boy” and sighed with relief when he instantly began crying.

Perfection.
Perfection.

The moments after that were surreal. I was given an injection in my leg to help the placenta come out. I was vaguely aware that it looked like some sort of shark attack had occurred in the water due to the amount of blood there was. I was carefully manoeuvred out of the water and back onto the floor to be examined. But all I could focus on was the tiny little face that moments ago didn’t exist in the world. Until I felt another contraction, which was VERY NOT OKAY – and again not something that anyone warned me about. I naively thought the placenta would just slide its way right out. But no. You have to push it. Or in my case cough it out, because I was torn to buggery down there.

Excellent representation of how each of the Quilty's handled childbirth.
Excellent representation of how each of the Quilty’s handled childbirth.

Yep. You know when they say that giving birth is like pushing a watermelon through the size of a pea? Well my watermelon decided it would be a good idea to have his hands on his face as he entered the world. Essentially like a pair of earmuffs on his head (e.g. dramatic Quilty flair.) And as a result I got a 3rd DEGREE TEAR. I believe I mentioned in a previous post something regarding Google imaging 3rd and 4th degree tears? I again recommend absolutely NOT doing that and instead use your imagination when I tell you that he tore me open right to the edge of my arsehole, though none of the surrounding tissue which apparently is a blessing. I beg to differ.

Mick took our son while I got examined again and coughed the placenta out. Another dignified moment in my life – it’s not so easy to cough when your pelvic floor muscles have been ravaged by a giant watermelon. We discussed the tear and the probable need for surgery to fix it. I believe I said something like “No! I wrote about this shit in my blog, it can’t happen to me!” To which everyone just laughed. Because rude.

E.g. Ear-muffed watermelon.
E.g. Ear-muffed watermelon.

Not that any of that mattered once Tom was back in my arms again. A natural greedy guts (maternal and paternal trait) he latched straight on the boob and guzzled for Australia, all the while looking at me with the biggest, bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. Everything you hear about the bond and falling in love with your baby when you first see them absolutely came true for me.

I got wheeled up to the maternity ward and met 2 different doctors, both of which examined my tear and said stupid things like “don’t worry you’ll be stitched up real good, your husband will be very happy” and “no rumpy-pumpy for 4 to 6 weeks afterwards.” Then they asked me what I did for a living. Once I informed them I was an RN they were suddenly a lot more professional. I wasn’t able to eat or drink before the surgery so naturally my energy supplies were low, but sleep was out of the question. I couldn’t not look at my boy and my husband and be completely filled with joy.

It came time for me to go to theatre and I’ll be honest, I was shitting myself (not literally. I still had bowel control.) Having a needle shoved into my spine is by far more terrifying a concept than childbirth, one of the many reasons I chose not to go the epidural route. But the feeling afterwards… lying back on that bed numb from the waist down was physically the most comfortable I’d been in 9 months. Even if my vagina was (again) exposed to a roomful of strangers (seriously, there were like 15 people in there). I occupied the surgery time by chatting to the anaesthetist about some mutual friends we had in common; while a team of doctors closely inspected my lady parts and put things back together. Another surreal moment I have no wish to repeat.

I made it back to the ward and my family, unable to walk until the spinal block wore off. By this stage I had been awake for 36 hours. I had stitches in my vagina. A catheter in my urethra. A very messy and uncomfortable blood loss situation happening down below and had not yet been able to shower. I had to learn how to breastfeed properly. A million and one phone calls and texts to respond to. As blissfully happy as I was with my beautiful son, I was fucking tired. And had an overwhelming feeling of “Shit. Now what?”

Which sets a nice precedent for how my first few days as a mother went. But that’s a post for another day.

Thomas George entered the world on Valentine’s day at 0643, weighing 3.475kg and 49.5cm long. We are completely overwhelmed with love and filled with joy to have such a precious, healthy little boy. Thank you so much to everyone for all their well wishes xoxo

The Quilty's
The Quilty’s

Evening Primrose Oil in your hoo-ha and other delights of full-term pregnancy.

So, I’m sick of being pregnant. (I know. Some of you are SHOCKED.) You know how you hear that it’s a magical time? Yeah those women are lying. Sure at first it’s lovely and you feel the kicks and rolls and imagine what it’ll be like to squeeze their chubby cheeks if they EVER DECIDE TO COME OUT, but you get to the last month of pregnancy and you are over that magical journey. You basically want to cry everyday because there’s a miniature ninja inside of you that has taken over your body, puts you in a perpetual state of uncomfortable and makes moving from lying/sitting to standing, a 2 man operation.

This is my "I'm 39 weeks please get out of my uterus" face.
This is my “I’m 39 weeks please get out of my uterus” face.

The 9th month turns even the sanest of women into crazy bitches (I’m guessing.) Any twinge, pain or tightening immediately triggers you to think that labour is imminent. You get more Braxton Hicks. You start looking for your mucus plug (another fun Google image project for those game enough. It somewhat resembles a giant snot ball that falls out of your vagina. You’re welcome.) And when nothing happens, you get more and more certain that your baby will never, ever be born. Which makes you emotional, which makes you think you’re more hormonal and thus more likely to go into labour and so the cycle continues.

I’m now 4 days out from my due date and I’ve been on maternity leave for ages, mainly because my job can be a physical and emotional burden and I decided it wasn’t really an option for me to be potentially at risk for longer than I had to be. And I know I made that choice for the right reasons, but God I’m bored. Right now my days are spent doing a fat lot of nothing. I drink tea. I lurk pregnancy forums, never contributing and silently judging. I’ve watched every episode of Girls, twice. I’m up to level 144 in Candy Crush Soda. I have never been so well informed about Australian politics (#libspill). I have become obsessed with Julia Morris on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here and lost my shit when she favourited my tweet (FUCKING JULIA MORRIS!) I read. I write. I plot the death of my husband when he tries to “scare the waters out of me.” I make Facebook rants declaring war on Australia Post. And when you gather these sad facts collectively, I realise that I simply can’t be pregnant anymore. So I have embarked on an experiment this week to find a “foolproof” (read: unsuccessful) way to bring on labour. Many theories exist and there are plenty that women swear by, but I’ve decided I’m only going to discuss 1 or 2 that are weird and freak people out. Because entertainment.

NIPPLE STIMULATION. After the milking episode, my nipples and I are obviously very well acquainted. Supposedly this method releases oxytocin which is the hormone that helps with contractions (BOOM! Science.) The rules around nipple stimulation appear to be very specific – there are even videos about it. Must mimic suckling newborn. Only one nipple at a time, for approximately 10 minutes at a time. Pull thumb and forefinger over nipple to make them erect, alternatively you can achieve this orally by licking or sucking… Presumably by your partner…? Oh no wait, this one website says you can do it to yourself.

Excuse me a moment.

SOME PEOPLE ARE LICKING THEIR OWN NIPPLES TO BRING ON LABOUR?! – I don’t even know how to begin to address this. This is a thing that should definitely not be a thing. Like how do you…? Who even…? Seriously, what the actual fuck? Needless to say, that’s a no-go. Strike it OFF the list. (Obviously, if this has worked for you, I commend you on your commitment to the cause, but seriously. Wow.)

HERBAL REMEDIES. I’ve been drinking raspberry leaf tea religiously, though this is not to induce labour, it’s more about strengthening the uterus and helping it contract so that I can push that baby out like a seasoned pro (probably.) Last week my midwife gave me some clary sage oil for the same purpose. It’s potent stuff, smells kind of like concentrated grass clippings and makes me want to rip my face off, but some people swear it helps to bring on labour. I tried it. Lathered it on, burned it, bathed in it. NOTHING. Further research into how it’s actually supposed to bring on labour is that people swear it absolutely does work, “but only when your baby is ready to come out.” WHAT?! That makes no sense – how do you know if it even did anything? It might have happened anyway, you know because YOUR BABY WAS READY TO COME OUT. Kerr-ist. Some say it helps with contractions during labour, but I react to this with a feeling of contempt and a snort of derision. I call bullshit.

IMG_0425
Yeah. So that happens. To your vagina. Hmm.

My midwife also gave me evening primrose oil capsules to take. It’s meant to soften the cervix due to all the prostaglandins (same as what is found in semen, which is why sex is also a common suggestion to bring on labour. Because educational.) It’s suggested that you take one in the morning and one at night and with any luck, your cervix will soften and bingo bango there’s a baby. Oh and you have the option of taking them vaginally too. YES VAGINALLY. YOU CAN SHOVE CAPSULES UP YOUR HOO-HA. First of all, how do they even know this? Who was the first woman who thought “You know, I really think that if I shove this up my foo-foo, it’ll probably make my baby come out.” I vowed that I would never be that desperate. I’d let nature take its course and all that.

But… the arguments are compelling. Cut to a week later and taking them orally has not worked. So much to the disgust of some of my friends this will be… and believe me this is difficult to write due to all the scoffing and jeering I gave this when I first heard about it… I tried it. And without getting too descriptive (I do have some boundaries), it’s messy. Gel capsules aren’t exactly known for keeping their structure. What goes up, must come down so to speak. Judge all you want – desperation makes us do crazy things (next I’ll be licking my own nipples.) Then I read afterwards that “it rarely works just from one time unless your baby is ready…” (there’s that line again. How convenient), and therefore I would need to do it regularly to have any effect. FML. I really should read this stuff through properly before embarking on adventurous and uncomfortable experiments. Needless to say, I’ve abandoned this one too.

After noticing I’d made the epic mistake of not reading through entire articles before conducting these my previous tests, when I read about castor oil I went through a bunch of different literary publications before commencing anything. AND THANK GOD I DID. Because from what I can gather, castor oil basically makes you have a constant stream of vomiting, diarrhoea, cramping, bloating and general shitty-ness, while simultaneously starting contractions. And that sounds like absolute crap, so I’ve decided to give that one a miss. Apparently I’m likely to produce poo when pushing my baby out anyway, I don’t exactly need to help that process along.

So, some might argue that’s a lot of information right there. Maybe TMI, for some. I might have even agreed with you if it were not for these wise words from my spirit animal.

Hannah Horvath spreading some #truth
Hannah Horvath spreading some #truth

No such thing as TMI – I share because I care. And I’m bored. And hopefully people learn something and have a laugh in the process. For now I’m going to stick with the more traditional methods of inducing labour naturally – though FYI, none of these work either. Unless your baby is ready. So while I’m uncomfortable and frustrated, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I can’t rush this little person. He or she will come when they are ready and life will be wonderful. The stubborn little monkey. Definitely a Quilty.

SIDE-BAR RANT: Before anyone who is or has been pregnant longer than me goes bat-shit crazy about how easy I’ve got it, let me just say one thing. I know that when I say I’ve been pregnant for awhile, it’s not as long as some women. I am aware that at 39+ weeks I may still be pregnant for another 3 before a baby pops out (though seriously Baby Q, we will NOT be starting off on the right foot if you’re that late, I don’t care how fashionable you think it is.) The reason I’m addressing this is because after talking to others and stalking aforementioned pregnancy forums, it’s clear to me that everyone is in competition for who is doing it the hardest. In fact in some cases, this extends to any woman who’s had a baby at some point in their lives. Everyone seems to have a constant need to one-up each other.

“Pfft, 42 weeks? Try 45 weeks.”

“Haemorrhoids? Mine were hanging down to the backs of my knees they were so bad.”

“Kicking you in the ribs? Please. My son broke one of my ribs! Well, it was never diagnosed by a doctor or anything but I could just feel it, you know?”

I don’t know why people do this, but it needs to stop. Let’s just agree that particularly in the later stages of pregnancy, everyone feels like shit. And by dismissing the woes of your friend, you’re refusing to validate that she is also a miserable, sweaty, land whale who just wants to have a whinge, eat some chocolate and plot ways to kill her husband for getting her pregnant in the first place. If you want to maximise happiness for both of you, buy 2 blocks of chocolate and plot their deaths together. Power in numbers.

The day my midwife milked me… Warning: may be triggering for some readers.

It is exactly as it sounds. Boobs were squeezed in an udder-like fashion. Cow jokes were made. Mick very nearly received a black eye. Standard stuff.

Now, I’ve told this story to some friends and colleagues already and generally receive one of two reactions. The first is with a knowing nod and smile; expressing (Ha! Love a good pun!) that milking your boobs prior to labour is normal practice and that I’ll be thanking my lucky stars that I did it when my baby gets super hangry around day 3 or 4 after birth. Sometimes back-up stores of colostrum (uber amazing, life-saving, pre-milk for other novices) are needed in case your supply is inadequate for when baby arrives.

Canine reaction to human milking practices.
Canine reaction to human milking practices.

The second reaction, those of rational people, goes something like this: “What the fucking fuck?” – Clarification of sentence, wide eyes and gagging noises also feature heavily in their responses.

So, Mick and I attended our midwifery appointment none the wiser. On this day we got to talk about the birthing process and thus were subjected to a full hour looking at diagrams of lady bits and babies squeezing out of them. I kind of felt like we spent an unnecessary amount of time on the topic of tearing. The midwife seemed to take a perverse pleasure in explaining 3rd and 4th degree lacerations which basically means the baby rips you open from your vagina to your anal sphincter and all the tissue in between. Yeah, I squirmed in my seat too. (DO NOT FOR THE LOVE OF OPRAH, GOOGLE IMAGE THAT SHIT. You won’t be able to sit down for a week.) She then reassured me not to worry, that most women don’t tear that severely and that even if I had a minor tear I probably wouldn’t feel it because the skin is so fine it’s like tissue paper… Um, what? Skin tears in your lady garden may not hurt while they occur due to all the other crazy shit that’s happening, like contractions and THAT BABY COMING OUT OF YOU, but painless? I know a bunch of women who would argue that point until the cows came home. (Again, pun totally intended.)

Baby shower cake: Helpful friends remind me of where babies exit from. DID experience 4th degree lacerations.
Baby shower cake: Helpful friends remind me of where babies exit from. DID experience 4th degree lacerations.

Anyway so there we were, discussing the delights of stretchy vaginas and intense pain, when our lovely midwife asked if I had any milk. I looked at her blankly for a second, silent querying whether she was having a minor stroke… or maybe she just wanted a cup of tea. And then it clicked. “Oh you mean in my boobs? I don’t know.” Stupid, stupid thing to say. The midwife stood up excitedly and said “I’ll be right back,” before bolting out of the room with dramatic flourish. Mick and I looked at each other with alarm. It was clear something momentously unpleasant was about to happen that neither of us had mentally or physically prepared for.

Our midwife jauntily returned with a plastic bagful of syringes and a specimen jar. I glanced at Mick again. Alarmed expression remained. Minor hyperventilation. General feeling of dread and horror. What. Is. HAPPENING?

MW: “So do your nipples stick out?”

Me: “Uhh.. not at this precise moment.”

MW: “But they’re not inverted? Give us a look.”

I reluctantly removed my shirt though was happily already wearing a maternity bra. I was at least spared the shame of being completely topless in a sterile office by only having to unleash one nipple. Present Me mentally high-fived Past Me for being so well prepared. However, the self congratulating was brief once I’d opened up the left cup of my bra and a flurry of breadcrumbs tumbled out along with my boob. I had brief flashbacks from earlier in the day, of eating a toasted sandwich off my bump whilst lying on the couch watching Dr Phil. Mortifying. “Um… Just saving some for later,” I laughed nervously. I was met with awkward silence from the midwife and muffled sniggers from my husband.

MW: “Well, I’ll just wash my hands before we get started.”

Uncomfortable silence. Boob still exposed. Dying inside. Must lighten mood.

Me: “Well, I’m excited! I had no idea I was going to get so much action today.”

She snapped her head towards me, presumably to make sure I was kidding and nervously jittered. A derisive snort from my husband, who appeared to be enjoying my discomfort way too much.

The midwife came back from the sink and proceeded to open up the specimen jar, holding it under my nipple – I would just like to pause a moment here so you can fully appreciate the intense emotions I was feeling. And listen, I’m no prude. I don’t have an issue getting my kit off when the occasion calls for it, like a wax or spray tan or the water birth I have planned for our baby, but I was simply not prepared for being milked. Thoughts went something along the lines of: WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING? HOW DID WE GET HERE? WHAT SHOULD WE HAVE FOR DINNER? (Memories of my lunchtime toasted sandwich reminded me that I am constantly hungry, even in the depths of major embarrassment.)

And then she just went for it. Grabbed my boob and milked me. Exactly like a cow. “Now it’s a rolling motion Jen, don’t just squeeze it when you do it. Are you paying attention, Michael? You might have to help her with this at some point.” (Ha! That wiped the smug look off his face.) And this continued for what was probably only 2 minutes, but felt like an hour. It was THE most uncomfortable I’ve been throughout my pregnancy (minus the physical symptoms) and I’m including the time I knocked a whole heap of stuff off a table at a nail salon because I misjudged the size of my girth. (I can’t be sure because they were speaking Vietnamese, but I’m certain they were bitching about me for the rest of my visit there. The evil looks and pointing towards me with their emory boards kind of gave it away.)

I then had the chance to milk myself, which was no less weird. Three sets of eyes staring intently as I squeezed my nipple, all of us watching the colostrum drip out. The midwife appeared pleased… kind of like what I imagine a farmer would be after his prize cow produced a bucket of milk. She gave us instructions to continue milking at home. We were to collect and freeze the colostrum in little syringes just in case I wasn’t able to produce any milk or the baby had trouble latching on in the first few days. We both nodded and finished up the appointment, steadily avoiding eye contact with each other and the midwife. (Mick and I drove home separately to recover from the situation; giving him plenty of time to think up references, jokes and puns relating to cows and dairy farming to treat me with later. Once home, he was in imminent danger of receiving a black eye and a truce was called 20 minutes after walking through the front door.)

Due to my initial embarrassment of being milked, I mentally dismissed the notion of continuing the process at home immediately. Because lets face it, if this was normal practice, surely I would have heard about it? Yes? Well no actually, as it turns out. Because it’s another one of those things that NOBODY TELLS YOU.

Pre-milking is totally a thing. Now that I knew about it, I heard about it everywhere. Midwife friends, articles on the internet, pregnancy forums. (Though some of those forums should be avoided at all costs. Everyone’s an expert and all these expecting women consult each other first when they have weird pregnancy symptoms, before going to their health professional. E.g. “I feel really nauseous, dizzy, can’t walk properly, blurry vision, swollen feet, pain in my back and my baby’s head is hanging out of my vagina. Do you think I could be in labour?”)

IMG_0407
Mama Q feat. Bump.

After reading so much about colostrum and breastfeeding, I realised that I am bloody lucky. While the whole milking process kind of freaked me out initially, I know that not every woman who wants to express or breastfeed can; and here I am basically leaking liquid gold for my unborn child without any effort at all (oh yeah, because since that first time, my breasts haven’t stopped leaking of their own accord. Cheers, ladies.) Midwives everywhere will be happy to know that I have started expressing and storing colostrum regularly since that appointment, despite my initial feelings on the topic. I know I am super lucky and that doing this offers my baby the best nutrition available with the added bonus of saving mine and Mick’s sanity should my boobs suddenly decide not to work properly once Baby Q is here, at least momentarily.

Plus it’s an awesome story to freak people out with.