irWe have officially entered Little Bear’s birthday week…which means it has been a year since I gave birth to my first child.
Part of my disbelief at this year marker is the fact that I…gave birth. And it was a year ago. And I have extremely salient memories as if I live somewhere inside of the delivery room at all times.
My husband likes to laugh and suggest that I was like Brooklyn Decker in the “What to Expect” film, where she sneezes and the baby arrives. It was not that easy; although it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.
I told my mom not to worry about coming down to see us. I was sure it was just a little pressure in my hips.
My husband let my in-laws know that I was feeling a little pressure, but that we were pretty sure it was nothing.
I guess I “labored” for about four hours at home, and held my breath with each contraction, which lasted a minute each. These were about five minutes apart. I felt like I had good time in between to recover. It was a lot like interval training; temporary pain and a lot of rest. It was a challenge I wanted to conquer without complaint.
By the time we arrived at the hospital, I furrowed my brow to the receptionist and said,
“I think I’m in labor. I’m not sure.”
The nurses checked. I was 100% effaced and between 7-8 cm dilated. Yeah; I was in labor alright.
Within five hours of our arrival, we had our little boy in our arms. I’m fairly certain he probably would’ve arrived right on time, but our nurse was…busy. I won’t horrify moms-to-be with the details of our very sweet but very…inept…delivery nurse. I will say that I was READY for that epidural (I have absolutely NO shame in my shot-in-the-back game). After that, I was present, happy, and ready to meet our little man.
But this post is not about delivery. It’s about what women worry about before delivery. And I reflected quite a bit on B’s due date; and I was terrified of these things in particular.
1. When it will happen.
So many women talk about how their baby was a few weeks early…or a few weeks late…and the WORST part about the last trimester is the fear of the unknown. I remember coaching at the High School State Swim Meet and I was uncomfortable (to say the least). I was 36 weeks pregnant and that baby could come at ANY MOMENT. I was terrified. My only consolation was the idea that if my water broke, it would be on a pool deck. Gross. Still, there was always the fear that I’d be in the middle of a lecture and I’d have to leave the room in hysterics. Thankfully, there was no public water breaking or other humiliating episodes.
2. How much pain you’ll endure.
Hollywood doesn’t do women much of a favor when it comes to this fear. EVERY. SINGLE. MOVIE. where the women is in labor is DRAMATIC, INTENSE, and PAINFUL. Women writhe in pain and scream as if someone is repeatedly stabbing them.
This was not my experience. I didn’t know I was in labor at first. Was it painful? Absolutely. Was it manageable? Absolutely. I felt every single one of my contractions. They were not pleasant. Still, I knew if I endured and did everything I could to make the contractions productive, I would see a baby very soon.
I know of many women who have a ridiculously painful experience…especially if one chooses to go au-nauturale. One of my best friends from college had hard labor through the night and eventually had to deliver her little girl via C-section. Another one PUSHED FOR 12 HOURS…WITHOUT PAIN MEDS. I could go on…but I won’t.
Here’s the thing; every woman is different. Still, every woman that experiences labor has a purpose to their pain. There is something beautiful that results from their labor, and most women do it again. You CAN DO IT.
3. If something will happen inside the delivery room that is–less than appetizing for your mate.
Steven and I agreed long before we were in that room that he would be where he couldn’t see any part of the labor process. He was to be standing by my face. There is a lot of beauty in your child, but not a lot in the labor process.
This fear is real. I can’t really say it any better, but I will say it didn’t happen to me.
4. The safety of your baby during delivery.
This needs no elaboration. This, unfortunately, is totally out of your control as well.
5. How much life will change once the baby is out of your belly.
“February 27, 2014
I woke up this morning and the gravity of B’s birth began to sink in. This was the last morning I awoke and got ready for work without getting my baby ready for the day. Life, as I know it, is on the cusp of changing forever…”
I went on to talk about how much I loved my students, and how deeply I would miss them. I did and still do.
I miss teaching. But I would miss my little boy more. I am grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to spend all day with my little one. Life has changed forever, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.