When I was pregnant with Little Guy two years ago, I remember being meticulous in my preparation for bringing a baby into the world. I read all about what to eat and what not to eat, I prepared my nursery, I researched the pros and cons of circumcisions, I ensured that I had my car seat installed by a certified technician, I took my prenatal vitamins everyday, and I had every last thing on my baby-buying checklist bought and at the ready (including the wipe warmer I never used).
And yet, somehow, in the midst of all this planning, I had forgotten - no I had disregarded - the most important piece to planning for my baby's birth. The actual birth
Yes, I had taken my hospital's birth preparation class, but I had not given more than a few hours of thought as to whether or not I was mentally, physically or emotionally ready for the process of giving birth to another human. I had not practiced any breathing techniques. I had not read any books on birthing.
I really thought that I would just wing it. I knew the baby was going to come out somehow - that was a given - so I didn't really think to prepare much. In retrospect, I think I was in denial.
I was in denial that an 8-pound living being was somehow going to have to come out of my body and that I would be more than a passive actor in that process. I thought that as soon as I got to the hospital, I would be "taken care of" by the nurses and doctors and that if things got too painful I would get an epidural, read a magazine until it was time to push, and then pop out the baby.
Like I said, I was in denial.
What actually happened was both wonderful and traumatic. Wonderful because at the end of the experience, I had a healthy baby, but traumatic because the birth process was, for me, just short of a horrific ordeal.
And let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I am speaking of how I felt personally and not in comparison to others' experiences. I know that I didn't have the most difficult labor of any woman who ever lived, but it was traumatic for me nonetheless.
During the middle of my labor, I remember thinking to myself that I would never have another child. That we would have to adopt. I think this thought crosses the mind of many women in labor at some point.
Why? Because it FUCKING HURTS, that's why.
I was not prepared for the pain. I was not prepared for my epidural to fail and leave me unmedicated during the majority of my labor. I was not prepared for the out-of-control feeling I had during the worst of my seven-minute long pitocin-induced contractions. I was not prepared to be tethered to my bed by IVs, writhing and groaning with no real mobility.
And I had certainly underestimated the need I would have for other people to support me through the process.
I felt desperate to be free of the pain, confused about what was happening, and worst of all, alone.
My mother had told me she didn't want to be present during the labor. She didn't think she could be much help to me, she had said, because she doesn't "do well" around people in pain. I had no friends I wanted in the room. I have no sisters. I really just wanted my husband there. We were going to do it. Just him and I.
But just as I was unprepared for what was happening, he too was unprepared. Bless his heart and I don't fault him for this, but he was not able to provide me the support I needed.
He didn't know what to do. So he did nothing. Other than watch the machines that monitored my contractions, he spent most of my labor reading magazines. This while I was going through very painful, very long contractions for hours. At one point, I remember telling him I couldn't do it anymore. He looked at the clock and said, "Well, you better not tire out yet, you still have a long way to go." I had already been in active labor for many hours at that point and it was the worst possible thing he could say (especially since he had no idea how much longer my labor would go). To this day, I have no idea what possessed him to say that. I think it was because he didn't know how to comfort me and he just stuck his foot in his mouth.
At another point, I turned to him and cried out "help me." It was pathetic. I was so scared and in so much pain. And all he could say was "I don't know what you want me to do."
That's when I knew I was alone.
He didn't have a clue and neither did I. It was horrible.
In the end, I just endured it until it was over. I was very close to a c-section because I was stalled for so long, but at the last minute, I progressed to 10 cm and birthed the baby vaginally. It wasn't the longest labor on record (26 hours), but it felt like an eternity to me.
I have since decided that I could do it again (obviously, right? since I'm currently pregnant). But this time I want to be more prepared. And my husband wants to be more prepared. (After all, he knows I would literally kill (yes, kill
) him if he were to ever again tell me during labor to suck it up and then go back to reading his magazine.)
The reality is that labor is hard. Duh, right? So it's not a bad idea to go into it prepared.
So, now at 28 weeks of pregnancy, I am beginning to blog about this stuff because I feel that writing about my feelings will help me put my last birth experience behind me and focus in a more positive way on my next birth.
And I am actually (kinda sorta) looking forward to my next birth. More on that in another post.
Labels: birthing, the pregnant life