All this talk about baby # 2 has me reminiscing about what used to be my biggest fear in the world. Worse than snakes or standing in front of a crowd naked was my fear of CHILDBIRTH! I have dreaded childbirth for as long as I could remember. In fact, when I found out I was pregnant, one of my very first thoughts were, “Oh my God. I am going to have to go through labor!” (After that, I was happy, of course.)
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I would look at other mothers trying to evaluate their pain tolerance. I would think, “Well, maybe it’s not that bad since she did it…and oh, she did it more than once so it can’t be that bad…” In my last trimester, as badly as I wanted to not be pregnant anymore, I was dreading my “D-Day.”
My Childbirth Story…
It was a week and a day before my due day on a Monday. I dragged my very pregnant body to work once again. For the first time, I found this amazing energy to finally take care of all of the work and maternity leave preparation I’d been putting off for the past few weeks. My mother in law was heading into town that afternoon, so I left early to pick her up from the airport. I managed to get her from the airport, finish some work at home, cook and eat dinner, all while experiencing what I thought were just Braxton Hicks contractions. But, by 9pm, I realized they were definitely more serious and each contraction was accompanied by a burning feeling in my pelvis. I started feeling what felt like a strange combination of really bad menstrual cramps and diarrhea pains (the kind that goes away after you go to the bathroom) or like food poisoning. In fact, after each of them, I kept going to bathroom thinking that was all I needed to do to get rid of this pain. They were coming consistently between every 6 & 10 minutes and I just wanted them to stop already! I tried to sleep, but that was not happening, so I asked my husband to take me to the hospital at around 1 or 2 am.
I remember having contractions on the way to hospital and my husband making us stop at the gas station so he could get a Red Bull! I was like, “Seriously??!!” Anyway, we finally got to the hospital and when they examined me in triage, I was told that I was only ONE centimeter dilated! That was it – ONE centimeter. All that pain for ONE centimeter. I pulled my husband closer to me and whispered in his ear, “Baby, I am not going to make it.” I just knew at that point that this labor was going to kill me. I became overcome by this disheartened feeling that this was going to be the worst experience of my whole life and that it would never end. Worst of all, my husband, the Chiropractor, was so against me taking any pain medication. This was a topic we’ve debated the entire pregnancy and we’d resolved that while I couldn’t promise that I’d do this all completely drug-free, I’d go without for as long as I could. Well, at that time, the nurse offered me a shot of Demerol to help me sleep through the night and I gladly accepted. (Sorry hubby!) It actually did help me sleep through the night by the way despite the pain. What I thought was hilarious was the fact that prior to offering the Demerol, she told me I could take Tylenol to help with the pain. I was thinking, “Really? Tylenol? Seriously?” I mean, that stuff barely helps my headaches!
I just stayed in bed most of the next day. My mother-in-law kept bringing me tea since I would not eat. Contractions were getting even more intense and around 5:30pm, I started to write down the times of each contraction. They were still only between 5 & 7 minutes apart and I was told not to go back to the hospital until they were 3 minutes apart. By about 12:30am, I said “Screw it” and told my husband to take me back. By this time, I was just in so much pain and each contraction was becoming more and more unbearable. I just wanted it to end already.
When we got to the hospital, I was examined by the nurse and she gave me the most spirit crushing news-I was still only TWO centimeters dilated! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!! I turned to my husband, ready to cry and repeated, “I am not going to make it.” He was really trying to comfort me—doing and saying everything we learned in our childbirth class—but all the encouragement in the world doesn’t make it hurt any less! So, thanks…but no thanks.
The nurse told me she would monitor me for a while and then wanted me to walk around the hospital. I did not want to walk. I just wanted drugs – legal or illegal- I didn’t even care at that point. It’s amazing how little you care about stuff at that point. There I was, half naked with my butt completely hanging out for everyone to see. That night, probably about 1/4th of the Atlanta metro area saw my goods, but I did not care one bit!
When she came back however, she told me there was something strange going on with my contractions and instead of having me walk, she was going to admit me. She examined me one more time and in that short period of time, I was already 3 centimeters. I didn’t even hear the “something strange” part, but was overjoyed about getting admitted and getting that epidural. Things were starting to look up. I finally saw an end in sight and that made a world of difference.
I was admitted at about 2am and given the epidural at 2:30. I thought I would be terrified by getting the epidural, but truthfully, it was the IV needle that was much more painful. Anyway, the epidural worked almost immediately. I was completely numb from the waste down and couldn’t feel anymore contractions. I must admit, not being able to feel your legs is still not the greatest feeling, though.
They told me they would check on me later and possibly give me some Pitocin if I’m not progressing enough. My midwife came in to break my water at 5:00am and told me I was 9 ½ cm dilated and would be ready to push in 30 minutes! There was some meconium in the water, so she let me know that there would be a respiratory crew present during the birth (more people to see my goods), but there was no reason for any worry. My perfect baby girl was born at 5:50 am.
Looking back at the whole thing, I think the worst part of the whole thing was not knowing what to expect or how much worse it was going to get. Almost immediately afterwards my thought was, “I could do this again.” Those damn hormones!