I haven’t really posted about the birth experience yet, and I know everyone is just dying to hear the gory details. And more importantly, I am dying to tell you.
It’s funny how you get to the point where you are so ready for something that you tend to forget what is awaiting you on the other side. It’s as though I had forgotten how painful labor was the first time around, which I can assure you is almost some sort divine miracle of the human physiology designed to make sure the species continues.
Labor is a painful process physically and emotionally. No matter how supportive your partner and support persons are, it is you against your body and your own soon-to-be-born child. As the baby is fighting its way out of you, your body has taken over the controls and your muscles are working hard to push this large object down a much smaller circumference. Your bones open and you feel like you are being split in two.
That’s how I felt with Lily.
This time is was really different. I had followed someone’s advice that spicy Mexican food will cause you to go into labor, my mother-in-law swore by castor oil – I tried both. Lo and behold Friday morning I woke up at 4:00 am with the urge to go to the bathroom. I was sure that between the laxative and the spice I had merely managed to give myself serious gastric distress. As I wandered around the house I began to feel some discomfort, at around 5:00 I decided to wake Eric – who shockingly responded calmly and quickly. He wanted to know if he could get cleaned up and I felt certain we had PLENTY of time.
I laid in the warm bath and started focusing inward, doing a mental chant my sister advised me would help, thinking of and saying “OPEN”. Well that seemed to work minor wonders as the contractions started coming like gangbusters and quickly my mantra would become “It’s only pain”.
Lily soon awakened with all the activity going on and handled it like a champ even at 5:30 am. We were running around trying to get everything together while simultaneously having contractions that were coming two to three minutes apart. I remember watching Eric take Lily into his mom and dad’s house thinking, “Oh dear, I hope he hurries, I have a weird feeling.”
It was snowing lightly, but steadily – it seemed so peaceful and serene that had I not been experiencing painful and rapid contractions I would have described it as sublime. Traffic was light, but I think I counted every car that was in our way. As we approached the exit for the hospital I told Eric, “We better hurry, I feel funny”. Eric assured me that we had plenty of time and to relax. He tried to hold my hand, I WANTED to hold his hand but I kept having to grip the handles as I tensed with pain.
I will say this about natural labor compared to induced – your body does allow you to rest – albeit far too brief. Had I not had those three minutes in between I would have lost my mind, they seemed an eternity a very fast, but delightful eternity.
We pulled around to the emergency drop off and by luck a gentleman was waiting inside the door to take Labor and Delivery patients up to the ward. He told Eric not to worry, go park the car and he would get me there without delay. He had been recently discharged from the service and tried talking to me as a wait to abate his nervousness and to comfort me. He assured me he understood, as he had a 15 month old at home. He was very sweet and firmly told people to get the hell out of our way. I thanked him profusely between spine gripping contractions.
The staff seemed only mildly concerned when we arrived. They were used to women writhing in pain and felt confident that I had plenty of time. WHY WAS EVERYONE SO SURE? As she asked me questions I tried hard to focus. What’s my name, when’s my due date, when did I start having contractions, what number baby is this, did I want drugs? HELL YES AND NOW!!! She examined me and said I was about 4 centimeters dilated. HOW COULD THAT BE? I felt so much pressure and pain.
Finally Eric arrived and I remember him sitting down next to me as they were trying to put an IV in my arm, I looked up at him as I felt a wave come crashing down over me and suddenly I felt this urge to push like I have never felt before. I thought (not to be gross) that I was going to crap myself. I was suddenly self-conscious, but removed from my body. I had to push and push I did, as hard as I could.
They heard a tell-tale grunt and suddenly everyone sprang to action. There was a flurry of activity going on around me and I felt WET. I wondered if I had peed or pooped myself. The things that go through the mind of a modest and easily embarrassed person.
The nurse said, “Oh my, you are fully dilated and I can feel the head in the canal. Your waters are broken.” This was only about 30 seconds since she last checked me. That’s what I call transition. (I also was relieved to know what the pressure and wetness were.)
At this point I blanked out and focused on the voices and the feelings inside my body. I literally left my body and was floating above in a dark haze. People were telling me I had to push and to do it NOW! So I did, then suddenly the pushing stopped itself and hit a wall. The pressure turned into a burning and stretching sensation and I let out a scream as they yelled “push DAWN, PUSH”. I pushed as hard as I could and I literally felt the baby’s head, shoulders and body slide out.
The relief was so overwhelming that I was a new person. I could open my eyes and watch as Eric stood over the attending nurses and baby Alex. I was smiling, I was cheerful I WAS SO FLIPPING HAPPY TO HAVE THAT BABY.
There were some minor complications. Because I never really went through transition, the placenta was not detaching. They literally reached up inside of me and pulled and scraped to get it out. This was EXTREMELY painful. But I didn’t care.
Soon I was holding my baby and felt almost no fatigue. I could stand on my own and was quickly attending to breastfeeding, something baby Alex does a little too well. Who says gums aren’t hard on a nipple?
The most blissful moments were sitting in the room at the hospital watching Eric coo at this beautiful, sweet baby. I was so relaxed and for those brief hours I was the happiest person in the world. Then he left and the reality that all I had waited for and prayed for came, and now it was over. I felt sad and happy at the same time. Never again would I be a new mother and I knew I had to cherish every moment. For the first time in months I didn’t worry about being broke, jobless and cranky. A new phase had begun, one that will have many challenges and milestones.
Thanks for letting me share this story. I wanted to get it down on paper, and now I can print it out and put it in Alex’s baby book for him to read someday.
What a huge difference between my two children, but the outcome is undoubtedly the same. A child to love and hold and be in awe of for the rest of your life.