If I’m honest with myself, how much of the joy at seeing the babeling for the first time was to do with knowing the pain was over? A fair percentage I think, possibly 65 or higher…

I may even have thought, ‘It’s over! And I also get a baby to take home!’

The thing is, once it’s over I feel I have every right to never be in pain again. I’m far more indignant about any sort of medical procedure that might hurt than I would be if I hadn’t just given birth. Unfortunately, in my rush to get the babeling out before some horrible forceps did, I’d got a second degree tear.

My midwife was now a Ghanaian woman who we really liked (despite what follows). She was being supervised by a doctor who I remember as blond, English and white but babyfather insists was black and with a similar African accent to the midwife’s. (Babyfather was arguably more alert at the time.) The doctor looked at my tear and they had a quick debate about who was going to sew it up, during which I silently urged the midwife to let the doctor do it. My silent urging was ignored.

‘What about pain relief?’ I squeaked to the doctor before she left.

‘Oh, you’ll get a local anaesthetic,’ she said, ‘but I’d use the gas and air as well.’

The midwife got on with the local anaesthetic while I protested loudly. Having a needle stuck several times in an area that had just had a baby pushed through it and was effectively an open wound seemed downright sadistic.

‘Yes, it’s a very sensitive area,’ said the midwife while continuing to stab me.

I reached for the gas and air. It’s strange stuff, Entinox, which apparently works not by dulling the pain but making you think the pain doesn’t matter any more. The local anaesthetic worked quickly so I could only feel the tugging of the stitches without it hurting, but the gas and air seemed like a good precautionary measure.

‘This is great stuff. You should try some,’ I said to babyfather, who was holding the babeling and not giving me the attention I deserved.

He looked disapproving.

‘Don’t you remember my friend from uni? Her partner got through two canisters while she was giving birth.’

I floated away on a little cloud. Then,

‘Ow,’ I mentioned. ‘I can sort of feel that a bit.’

The midwife continued.

I puffed away but it was getting sorer.

‘Are you nearly finished?’ I wondered loudly.

‘I’m on it,’ said the midwife mysteriously.

‘OW! That REALLY hurts now! I think the injection has worn off!’

‘No, I didn’t inject this part,’ said the midwife calmly, and carried on.

‘Maybe we can just leave that bit to heal on its own!’ I suggested wildly.

No-one takes you seriously when you’re in pain after the birth. Hollywood performances are fine during, but no-one seems to realise that you really, really don’t need any more pain afterwards.

‘Now, babymother, you know it’s the best thing for you,’ said babyfather misguidedly.

‘OW! Excuse me! Are you the one having stitches in your perineum? Are you?’

‘Er, you’re doing really well,’ he said.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the last three or four stitches were done without any anaesthetic at all. The gas and air made no difference whatsoever.

‘I’ll just check,’ said the midwife, ‘that I haven’t sewn up your back passage by mistake.’


Anyway, she hadn’t.

‘Now,’ she said, holding up a golf ball, ‘I’ll put this suppository in – it’s good for pain relief..’

‘I’ll be fine with oral pain relief thanks,’ I said.

So, that was the stitches, and I was lowering myself into chairs grimacing for seven days afterwards. Then breastfeeding was agony because a) well, why don’t you try hanging clothes pegs off your nipples? – any gender can do this and b) in the first few days it triggers contractions that were as strong as some of I’d had in the first stage of labour.

Apart from that it was fine.