Birth is a beautiful mess, each one with its own unique story. This is one of mine.
Pregnancy was a really great experience, or at least I’m just choosing to remember the great parts. I researched everything. By research, I mean I read a few books, but mostly scrolled through countless mommy sites, reading horror birth stories and scaring myself silly.
Along with letting this bundle of bladder kicking joy hear music through my belly and reading to him each day, we also had talks. I told him mommy didn’t want to be pushing for hours when it was time to come out. Obviously, I was thrilled and extremely thankful that he was growing and healthy, but when the ultrasound tech mentions how large your baby is growing it’s hard not to tense up the lady bits and hope she’s wrong. (Which she was, he was tiny.)
Six weeks before I was due, I had to be put on bedrest (sparing those details) but if you’ve never been 8 months pregnant and put on bedrest, then you’ve never known how it feels to be a land-dwelling whale. I ate, I sat. I ate more, sat more. I drank just to be able to walk to the bathroom. You get the picture. Everyone said to enjoy this time because it will be crazy once he’s born.
Well, I wanted crazy. I don’t even remember what I did all day. What I do remember is feeling (and looking) like I was wearing a completely full water suit under my skin. My skin remains stretched to this day from said suit. At least my hands and arms wave in unison. (See, I told you I could work on being positive.)
I can laugh about it now, but I was in denial then. I know this because looking back, there’s no way I realized how huge I was. In the birth pictures it’s hard to determine where body parts started and stopped, almost like seeing a mass of skin covered in a custom labor gown. At least it had a pretty bow. I’m assuming this inability to notice at the time is some type of pregnancy induced defense mechanism.
The day the contractions started was amazing. I was thrilled to be up walking and swaying. Even if my stomach was being ripped in half, Stay Puft was finally off the couch and loving it.
It was a Sunday and I already had a progress appointment scheduled the next morning. I was at peace just waiting and swaying and breathing until then, so we didn’t rush to the hospital. The next day, my doctor confirmed I was in labor. He said I should go eat lunch and head to the hospital.
Listen up here, it’s important. Whatever you do in life, do not ever, under any circumstances eat a tuna sandwich from Subway before having a baby. Trust me here. It is the worst idea you’ll ever have. I do not know the name of the poor nurse who helped me during the first hour at the hospital, but I do know she suddenly just disappeared. To this day, I still wonder if she ran out of the building screaming or if it was shift change, either way I wish I could apologize.
Now you already know I’m sick, wearing a sloshing water suit and in immense pain. Add to that a room that doubled as the after hours hospital sauna room, and you have one miserable and cranky person making hideous faces and some weird grunting noises in a puddle of wet sheets. I’m positive it was prime photo material for Wild Nature; Scenes From the World of Birthing Hippos.
I’ve seen all these labor and delivery shows. These women got to walk around, or bounce around on giant balls (which always freaked me out for sanitary reasons) and they even got to sit in calming water with someone gently wiping their forehead. It seemed almost peaceful.
Me? I was pinned down, flat on my back to a bed with these monitor straps around my soaked skin (that kept sliding off) and I couldn’t move. They had to monitor him, which I understood, but after 6 contractions I had Hulked the bedrails off and twisted them into a sweet little bow.
Back to those shows. I always heard the woman say she felt like she needed to poop. Every single show. I always thought that was so weird that everyone seemed to announce this. Then, I found myself in mid conversation with someone suddenly saying the very same thing. How did those words escape from my mouth without permission? I’m now convinced it’s a labor mystery.
Once they were said though, I had a nurse (not the one I scared away earlier, she never returned) rummaging around downstairs and confirming I was a 10. I read the books, 10 is the max, right? I’ve done a good thing, right? Do I get a sticker?
Where did she come from anyway? How did she even hear me say that? Why do I no longer care that several people I’ve never seen before just start searching me like they’re checking the couch cushions for lost keys?
Who cares at this point, I’ve apparently hit the magical “have to poop” phase and they say it’s time to push. Think I’ll just go ahead and pack up and head on home now. It’s been fun, not really, but I’m ready to go now. He can hang out in there a little longer. Nope.
Next thing I know I’m being wheeled to a much bigger, much nicer, much cooler room. They were holding out on me this whole time. Very uncool guys, I’ll remember that next time. Wait no, I’m never doing this again!
I hadn’t even settled into my new penthouse room when, surprise, two new faces are gawking under the sheet. One had a very concerned look, or was she about to vomit? I couldn’t tell, but I thought either way it was rude. Then she had the nerve to ask me NOT to push since my doctor hadn’t arrived. Like I had any choice. The kid was barreling along like they had a cupcake with sprinkles waiting at the finish line. I laughed thinking she was joking and well, that was a mistake. Laughing equals pushing.
They all rushed over. Everyone in the halls stopped by. It was a real party. To get a better view the nurse party did a progressive side step, it almost looked choreographed. Should I clap? They ask my husband if he wanted to see–whatever it was going on. I see a wave of panic with a little fear cross his face. He slowly leaves my side and cautiously peeks around the sheet, as one would do sneaking up to see a rabbit so it doesn’t hop away. I note a look of confusion as his eyes doubled in size. I then see the nurse is holding something. She’s smiling. Oh wait, is that the baby?
He’s here? That was it? He listened to my talks! No pushing for hours! Is he ok? Is he crying? There it is, I hear a cry. I look over to see my doctor walk in. He stopped in the doorway, shocked at the scene. Sorry pal, you missed the show!
I could tell you the rest, but I honestly don’t remember much after that. He was snuggling on my chest. I was in love. There were random people huddled downtown talking about current events and clanking utensils, like a chic late night dinner party. I heard strange sounds and felt stranger things. I have no idea what occurred during that time and to this day I don’t even care.
In the following days, I swelled up even more. I was coming to terms with just having to roll everywhere with my new baby. Finally, after some serious lemon water consumption, I started waking up each day several pounds lighter. Literally, it disappeared overnight. Wish that would work now. It was definitely a relief that I no longer had to peel my jeans off.
And so, the journey began…