MANY ASPECTS OF FEMALE PHYSIOLOGY remain an "inconvenient" topic these days. Important and complex processes such as pregnancy and childbirth are usually talked about in general terms, avoiding any hint of details. The only socially approved form of conversation about childbirth is the romanticization of this phenomenon: no pain and fear - only happiness and love. Silence devalues a difficult and unique experience, and women are again left alone with their thoughts, fears and real problems. We talked about this with five young mothers, each of whom has a story to tell about their birth.
Nike creative consultant, 30 years old, Moscow
Son is 3 months old
I found out about pregnancy on the evening of December 31: the mood was unbearably bad, I asked my partner to go to the Christmas tree to save the New Year, and at the same time buy a pregnancy test, because I had a delay. Seeing "two or three weeks" on the electronic test, we froze with round eyes, but all the complicated things immediately disappeared somewhere, and a festive mood set in. It's hard to say that we were planning children (we met two months before), so we just hugged and began to rejoice.
There were many unexpected moments, including those that we did not have time to discuss with the child's father during the short time of our acquaintance. For example, I wanted to immediately share the news with my loved ones, but Andrey is a rather closed person and for a long time did not allow me to do this. But the most unpleasant discovery was how strongly my mood depends on hormones. The influence of hormones can be understood intellectually, but understanding makes little difference. The most common advice during pregnancy is not to be nervous, but this made me even more nervous. I could not get rid of fears about the future, finances and everyday life: they pressed so that I fought several times in tears and hysterics. The worst thing about this is the thought of what irreparable harm I am inflicting on the baby inside, and this only made it worse.
I was very lonely. A close friend from whom I expected joy and support, at the same time experienced a frozen pregnancy. She reacted very painfully to my words of support several times, and we stopped communicating. It is easier for me to experience joyful events, sharing them, because it so happened that I almost did not experience the joy of pregnancy. Andrei and I fought, I was depressed by a feeling of guilt, and I was most often happy when I went to the Glow Nurture app, where the size of a baby is given out every week in comparison with a fruit or vegetable. Blueberry to kumquat, kumquat to plum, mango and so on. And only the last two weeks of pregnancy can I call truly happy: hormones turned off most anxiety, and I began to do what I wanted.
I never went to a regular antenatal clinic, but immediately signed a contract for the management of pregnancy at the Center for Traditional Obstetrics: I chose a doctor, a midwife and a maternity hospital (I gave birth in 8th at Dynamo). At receptions, I was often shy and forgot to ask questions, and my family helped me a lot. Vika, my brother's wife, who gave birth a year ago, patiently and carefully answered all my strange and stupid questions. In the same way, I now carefully give advice to those who ask for it: we are all different, and we all have our own ideas about how to raise a child and how to protect our health.
I gave birth in a paid, special ward of the CTA, and therefore during the fights I was in boxing alone - more precisely, with Andrei and the midwife. At first, the contractions were not strong, and then it became seriously painful. I could not relax from the pain, so the cervix did not open, which made it even more painful. I spent about an hour and a half in a hot bath and switched off between contractions, and during them I screamed endlessly.It was painful to move, I wanted to go to the toilet all the time (or it seemed that I wanted to go to the toilet). At five in the morning, there was still no hint of disclosure, and the doctors decided on an epidural. The anesthesiologist refused to work with me because of a tattoo on my lower back: there is an opinion that the needle can pierce the paint, and the paint in the cerebrospinal fluid will cause a lot of irreversible consequences. As a result, I was given an injection of tramal, after which it became very painful, but not for me: the narcotic effect distanced the pain, and in two hours there was a full disclosure.
The moment of the birth itself, when something broke in the perineum, I remember very well. A strange feeling of tearing skin and suddenly pouring blood, like from a bursting ball, a lot of pain and incredible relief from this pain, because it is not endless and strong, as in contractions, but sharp, sharp and instantaneous. In addition, to hear the groaning of someone new, who urgently needs help to be born to the end, is very invigorating: for him, as I knew from the courses, it is much harder for him to be born than for me to give birth.
Childbirth is similar to an ultramarathon: at first it is easy and fun, then it is difficult and you want to stop everything, and in the most difficult last kilometers, one hundred tenth breath opens, and pain becomes a fact that you can look at from the outside. I think my experience of marathons and ultramarathons also played a role in the fact that after two days I felt normal - not wonderful, but generally normal. True, for more than a month after giving birth, I suffered from constipation: it's embarrassing to talk about it, but it happens to many. But in the first hours after giving birth, I was stunned. Maybe this is the tramal effect, or maybe just fatigue: I could not believe that I had a child. In the first hours, the sensation cannot be called love - this is perhaps endless oxytocin. First love came a day later, when I looked at him at night, staggering from fatigue. Suddenly I realized that I will feel this tiredness for many more nights, and that I am glad for this, and that for the sake of this tiny baby I can do anything, because it makes sense.
Photographer, 30 years old, Kiev
Son 7 months
The impressions of pregnancy most of all reminded me of a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, where an experiment was made on the main character for the Nobel Prize, making him pregnant. Feelings one to one. I am still ashamed to describe the pregnancy in this way, because it went surprisingly smoothly and, compared to expectations, turned out to be just wonderful. I am grateful to the body and genes for such a gift, but I still don’t understand why evolution chose this method of reproduction for us: budding would be much more convenient.
For 30 years, you get too used to the established way of life: I was always good and comfortable with myself, and during pregnancy my inner conservative, spoiled by this luxury, was wildly indignant. I even made a “pregnant” photo session for myself, just setting the light in the studio and pressing the self-timer button. I forced myself to take a picture so as not to miss the moment, but I did not have a strong desire to photograph my stomach - I was generally a little afraid of him.
A separate story is ultrasound. I am used to the fact that in films and during routine examinations they show a dull black-and-white picture and say: “See? It's okay! " It turns out that the technique has reached new heights, and after the third month in advanced laboratories, you can print a 3D photo of a child, and especially funny uzists can turn a monitor towards you and arrange a live broadcast from the belly. Now I understand how wonderful it is to cover your face with your hands in surprise and see online that the person inside you repeats this. But then for my psyche it was a slight overheating.
At all examinations and screenings, I was worried about the so-called Chernobyl syndrome. I was born in Pripyat two weeks before the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and all my childhood I was examined with an amendment to the "Chernobyl".When you grow up hearing phrases like “We don't know what will happen to you”, you don't believe in yourself as a full-fledged organism - let alone a new person inside. On the other hand, these nine months have become incredibly fruitful for me. I read a lot of science pop about neurophysiology and endocrinology: it calmed and helped to learn to trust my feelings. It is easier to listen to the body's signals, understanding how and why they occur. The brain, as an organ "separate" from our consciousness, does a very important job, including managing the process of creating a new person. From the pituitary gland of the child, the pituitary gland of the mother receives a signal that it is time for him to be born: they say, come on, mother, start contractions. It is worth allowing the brain to solve its problems for nine months and not overwhelm itself.
The strange assessment of the situation came mainly from outside. From a random doctor at a random, albeit well-known, paid clinic, I heard: “Toxicosis does not exist, it seems to you. You just do not accept your condition - that makes you sick. " Arguments like the fact that my mother at one time with toxicosis was in conservation did not work. The doctor who convinced me that I was just a neurotic was a man, and at that moment I decided for myself that observing pregnancy in men was not the best option. Do screenings, ultrasounds, look for solutions to serious problems - yes. And I would rather trust a woman to observe the natural process inside my body.
Perhaps, thanks to this doctor, I worked out my karma and quite by accident, literally a couple of blocks from home, stumbled upon the "Center for Healthy Motherhood", where again I accidentally got an appointment with a really "my" doctor. She took care of my pregnancy, being pregnant with my third child, and on her recommendation I chose the Kiev Institute of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology for childbirth. According to the doctor, there is the best postpartum care, which is especially important: in the first days, it is necessary to correctly establish all the processes.
During childbirth, epidural anesthesia did not work in any way: so much adrenaline was in the blood during the night of contractions. Then it seemed to me that the contractions were not so painful as I thought, but the doctors had to inject me with general anesthesia in order to safely carry out the cesarean. After giving birth, it was physically difficult, especially considering the fact of the operation. But I was morally and practically prepared for everything, and in fact everything turned out to be even easier than I expected.
Before the newborn son, I felt admiration, he aroused respect and insane interest. I felt like an astronaut who flew for nine months to a new, unexplored planet, which I had an idea of only from indistinct images of satellites, then safely survived the nervous moment of landing, opened the hatch and finally saw the very earth that I had imagined for so long. This planet turns out to be much more beautiful and curious than in the imagination, but you have literally a couple of minutes to admire, because there is a lot of work, and you urgently need to start building a new space station.
Translator, 30 years old, Bilbao
Son is 10 months old
My husband and I took the pregnancy with great enthusiasm, since we had been waiting for it for a long time and even began to worry if everything was in order with the prospects. My attending physician was most surprised when, while trying to prescribe antibiotics for a prolonged cough, I warned him that I could be in a position. It turned out that the "situation" lasts almost a month.
My attitude to motherhood was determined, on the one hand, by my mother's stories about the birth and upbringing of me in the difficult days of perestroika, and on the other, by the complete absence of pregnant women and small children in my environment. It is difficult to know less about children than I knew before giving birth. But, as it turns out, non-detocentric girls like me can become responsible mothers. The only thing that you should definitely not do is strive to be the perfect mom.Trying to match the mindset about what you should be around the clock is not just a thankless task, but also impossible. This will only cause dissatisfaction with yourself, the unborn child and the world.
There were many fears throughout the pregnancy. In the first trimester, I had a fear of miscarriage, so I tried not to lift anything heavier than a gym bag and listened maniacally to any sensations in my lower abdomen. I really didn't want to gain a lot of weight, so I selectively approached my diet. The weight was still steadily growing, and by the end of the sixth month I had already gained "extra" ten kilograms. After this psychological milestone, seeing that I was not very successful in controlling the process, I stopped trying to do it and gained only four kilograms from above. The weight went away, of course, not immediately after giving birth, but after six months I got into my old clothes.
There was also a fear of catching some kind of nasty thing like toxoplasmosis or rubella, and vision became dull, and heartburn tormented by the end of pregnancy. With the birth of a child, everything went away at once. But sexual desire, on the contrary, raged in the second or third trimester, and after childbirth abruptly disappeared: when breastfeeding, this process is natural. It is believed that if you continue lactation further, then after about six months the libido returns to normal. The only fear that came true was pain in the spine from excess weight: they have not gone away so far and will not just go away. It is necessary again to systematically build up the muscle corset lost during the forced "vacation".
I gave birth, according to numerous advice, in a public hospital. In Spain, at least in the Basque Country where I live, public medicine provides no less, and often more, professional and varied services for childbirth. There are, of course, drawbacks - for example, the detached attitude of the staff and the feeling of a "conveyor belt". In general, I was satisfied with the quality of the service: the midwives, the surgeon who performed the caesarean section for me, and the nurses who helped with the breastfeeding technique seemed to me to be real professionals.
Not without disappointment. They were associated with a complete discrepancy between the desired and the actual during childbirth. The fact is that my child never rolled over (in the end, as I said, I had to have a cesarean section). Since the process began ahead of schedule and I hoped to the end for a different ending and natural childbirth, the abdominal operation seemed to me a difficult, painful and depressing experience. In fairness, it should be said that she had no effect on breastfeeding, metabolism, and practically did not affect her appearance. The difficulties that arose during childbirth did not kill my desire to go through the experience of pregnancy and motherhood again. The next delivery scenario can be very different from the first experience - and perhaps for the better.
Director, video artist, 32 years old, Moscow
Daughters 9 years old
Pregnancy and childbirth is the most intense physiological experience I've had in my life. Dentist visits, surgeries, a wide variety of illnesses and experiments with physicality - childbirth eclipsed everything. I got pregnant early enough, at 22, but that summer, when it happened, I was actually going to do it. My first education was biological, and I wrote my diploma on mutations at different stages of embryonic development and genetically inherited metabolic disorders. So all my free time from sleep and toxicosis, I was afraid and thought of what I would do in case of any of the deviations I knew. I still remember the quote from the embryologist on the flyleaf of one of the books: “We think that the most important events in our life are the graduation from the university and the wedding, but in fact it is blastulation and gastrulation”.
During pregnancy, I abandoned medical genetics and was already in my first year at VGIK, which did not go well with the birth of a new life.The auditoriums were too stuffy, because of toxicosis, I was nauseous in all the toilets of the institute, the ten-hour school day was terribly exhausting, and I constantly slept in pairs. One of the teachers tried to dissuade me from further studies and a career as a director, and the second wanted to expel, because "you are a mother."
This is a very crucial period - when embryogenesis takes place inside you. All my fears were embodied in dreams: I dreamed that I was giving birth to a fish, or a brood of rats, or a very small baby doll. Already in the late stages of pregnancy, I constantly nudged my daughter in the stomach if she did not move for too long, and could not calm down until she received a return push. Now I also strive to control her condition, but with the help of calls or SMS.
It's unpleasant to admit this, but children are money, pregnancy management is money again, and childbirth is also money. I spent all additional state and maternity payments at work on private doctors, because I did not have enough nerves or health for other medicine. When I went to the district antenatal clinic, they made me a painful scraping on duty from the cervix, and then for some reason offered to have an abortion, although I warned them that I was pregnant "of my own free will." After that, I went to the antenatal clinic on the Arbat to the doctor who was in charge of my friend's pregnancy, and never returned to my district clinic. We found the nearest maternity hospital and there we also signed a contract with an obstetrician, and at the same time agreed that the father of the child was present at the birth. To do this, he needed to do a blood test and fluorography.
Before giving birth in Russian maternity hospitals, they are often asked to shave their pubis, which is rather strange, given what happens during childbirth. Shaving your pubis when your water is running out, but for me it happened seven days earlier than planned, frankly, not with my hand. It's good that there was a non-pregnant man nearby: I couldn't have done it alone. In general, when you start to give birth, people around you are mostly nervous. At some point, they got tired of being nervous, and it was my turn to worry. They installed sensors on me, put droppers, water poured out of me, everything hurt, people left and came: I absolutely did not understand what was happening and why it was taking so long.
It was a very correct decision to take the child's father for childbirth, and not because he somehow incredibly helped or reminded him how to breathe correctly. Firstly, there was someone to exchange a few words with in 12 hours, there was someone to hold on to, when he felt sick, when he needed to get up or sit down, there was someone to change the ship and call a nurse. And in general, the entire staff of the maternity hospital works somehow faster if a man hangs around in the ward: patriarchy!
During childbirth, I had sudden complications: the sensor was not attached too securely to my abdomen, and the strength of my contractions was underestimated. In the morning, fortunately, I was given an epidural anesthesia, and what happened next, I was able to survive. I remember that they pressed my elbow on my stomach, cut my crotch, I thought that my face and eyes were about to burst. At some point, I started screaming and crying so that they decided to roll in general anesthesia. My daughter was not dragged out with an idyllic first cry and lifted to her chest: she was bluish in color, and she was taken away somewhere. Then I began to thank David Lynch for the existential experience - aloud, I think - the consequences of anesthesia.
Now my daughter is already a completely separate person, but I still remember the day she was born with some shudder. We talk about this with her from time to time - at each age in different ways. I don't remember the women in my family talking about their birth: it seemed to them that it was something shameful or secret. It's a pity - I would have listened.
Journalist, teacher, 34 years old, Krasnodar
Son is 5 weeks old
I got pregnant, by the standards of a Russian man in the street, late - at 33, and gave birth at 34.In general, at the age of 30, I realized that family, children are not my way, but suddenly a year later I met great love, and the issue of offspring was automatically resolved in a positive way. Under the influence of stereotypical cinematic scenes and the stories of my relatives and friends, I expected a lot of terrible things, but something happened that no one told about.
If everyone has heard about postpartum depression, then I was completely unprepared for the fact that prenatal depression may occur. In the seventh month, I fell into such a quagmire for five or six weeks that it seemed that I would stay in it forever. Everything came together: the body that had become cumbersome and uncomfortable, fears of all stripes, the certainty that my husband did not love me and had never loved me. Added powerful nightmares, from which I woke up either screaming for help or fighting off demons.
At some point, I assured myself that the only favorable outcome was death directly during childbirth, and began to prepare for this: I cleaned up all the cases, wrote down the necessary passwords and valuable instructions in a special notebook. At some point, I saw in the search history that my husband was googling prenatal depression, and I realized that my condition could not be hidden. It came to naught gradually - just as it began, but I still remember the feeling of doom very clearly. It helped that I worked almost until the very birth - the abundance of tasks helped not to get stuck.
For the first five months, we did not tell anyone about pregnancy: this allowed us to avoid a lot of unnecessary advice and prejudices (there were enough of them in recent months). Once even the doctor was amazed. When I was referred for a flu shot in the third trimester, the therapist at the district clinic gave me a standard anti-vaccine rhyme. There was about mercury, formaldehyde and chipping of the population, it was argued that vaccinations kill sperm and make boys sterile, which is the intrigues of the insidious West to destroy the great Russia. Almost word for word, I'm not kidding.
Given the easy pregnancy, from the very beginning I decided to give birth with the duty team - without any agreements, persuasions and sentences. I did not expect a particularly loving relationship, but the level of attention and care exceeded any expectations. But I, to my shame, turned out to be a terrible woman in labor. Despite all the articles I read, I did very little of what was needed. "Breathe in the fight" - how the hell do you breathe this pain out? It is the contractions that are the most protracted and exhausting period. I gave birth without epidural anesthesia - the moment was missed for her. And yet, I begged myself an injection, which for almost an hour slightly muffled the pain and allowed me to fall asleep right between contractions.
The birth itself did not last long, but when it was over, I was happy that my eyes didn’t burst and generally remained with me (it felt like they had to fly out during the attempts). The midwife then sympathetically looked into my face: "Poor thing, why did you overextend your head." When I got to the mirror, I found that my face was plowed up - from the wrong efforts, every pore on my face became microinflammation.
However, this is not the most tangible and experienced consequence of what happened. It is a mistake to think that childbirth is the finish line. The body after childbirth is a different story. It is impossible to sleep on your stomach and sit on a chair, and every trip to the toilet is an expedition. Want to sneeze? You will regret it very much. Cough? Better to suffocate, but don't. Attached the baby to the breast? God, what are these contractions? Yes, when a baby is breastfeeding, the uterus contracts, and the familiar pain returns on fresh tracks.
At this point, it may seem that nothing could be worse. In comparison, it can. A couple of weeks after the birth of the baby, I rushed to the gynecology department with a temperature of 39.4, provoked by inflammation in the chest. And here, biting my tongue, I no longer grumbled about fate. The roommates in the ward changed every day. Frozen pregnancy, abortions, polyps, curettage and recovery from anesthesia - this is really scary. Suddenly you realize how difficult and vulnerable the female body is.
At this point, the question logically arises: why is all this necessary, if it brings so much pain and suffering? It is hard to say. When I saw my child for the first time, the range of emotions was outrageous - everything was there. Love? Even some. And not only to my son - I became softer and kinder to all my relatives, and an incredible explosion of feelings arose towards my husband. Perhaps it will still change more than once - my parenting experience is not long. But so far, even fatigue, lack of sleep and a ragged regime do not overshadow the joy and happiness of what happened.
Will I ever do this again? Hardly. First, the clock is ticking (ha ha). Secondly, if outside the hospital the opinion prevails that it is easier to give birth to a second child than to the first, then mothers voice a more convincing opinion: “The first child is a step into the unknown, you have nothing to compare with. But deciding to go through it again, already knowing about all the pain and possible emotions, is a very serious decision. " Stories about the wisdom of nature, which provided for women to forget the full severity of childbirth, have not yet convinced me: at the moment, one child is enough for me.
Photos: pitakareekul - stock.adobe.com, Poles - stock.adobe.com, Nataliia Pyzhova - stock.adobe.com, Direk Takmatcha - stock.adobe.co