Childbirth is one of those experiences that is so vastly different and personal for each woman. One thing that we can all agree on is that it is extremely taxing emotional and physically, but conclusively one of the most beautiful things we can experience. While pregnant, I scoured the internet in search of what to expect but all I could find were sugar coated explanations. While asking every mother that I came in contact with, a lot of them told me that they forgot the pain. I’m calling bullshit on that right here right now, because I remember the pain very clearly.
I was dreading the day I would have a watermelon moving through my body and ultimately coming out of me. I saw other soon to be moms gushing about how excited they were for their big day, and I just couldn’t relate. I wondered if there was something wrong with me, did I not have that “mother instinct”? Did feeling this way make me a bad mom right from the start? The answer is no. I had to dig deep and really evaluate and sort through my feelings. I found that the fear I had was not selfish. It was not so much about the pain (although pain did have to do with it) as it was about something going wrong. I was fearful of the unknown and not being in control of the situation. If someone had honestly told me their experience, and gave me details about what to expect, maybe it would have lightened the load. So that is exactly what I’m going to do. Keep in mind that this is only one person’s experience, and your experience may look like this, or it may be completely different.
At 40 weeks pregnant I was given the choice to be induced at 41 weeks or 42. I chose 41 without skipping a beat so I could “get it over with”. I was given a day to go into the hospital and I was told to call 2 hours before going in to make sure they had beds. I had to call back 3 separate times because they were unsure if they had room, and ended up being admitted 3 hours later than was scheduled. Make sure that you eat as much as you want before going in, because after you’re there they only allow you ice chips and popsicles. Although, I brought snacks in and ate small amounts when the nurses were out of the room.
They will most likely give you a urine test, take some blood, check to see if you are already dilated, hook you up to monitors, make you change into a hospital gown, and give you an IV and start pumping fluids in you immediately. I was given Misoprostol which is medicine that was inserted inside of me to soften the cervix. It was pretty uncomfortable and after only 3 hours I had dilated from 0 cm to 3 cm and it was taken out. It causes cramping similar to period cramps but not as severe as contractions.
I’m not going to lie, the contractions are pretty wicked. If you have ever had kidney stones, the feelings are very comparable. If you haven’t, imagine period cramps X100 that move through your abdomen into your back. Something that I found helpful was the monitors. You will be hooked up to 2 monitors placed on your stomach, one is to track the baby’s heart rate but the other is to measure contractions. You can watch the monitor go up when you’re having a contraction and when it peaks, you can start to relax because the worst is over. Be sure to be ready for another one in a few minutes. After a few hours I was ready to tap out, I have a low pain tolerance and it was getting unmanageable and I was in tears. Although, you may have the option to take pain medication before getting an epidural, I did not due to other medications that I was on and possible reactions it may cause. Keep in mind that motrin, tylenol, and advil DO NOT work for contractions.
I was sure that I wanted an epidural but I was extremely hesitant to actually get it. I cringed at the thought of having a needle inserted into my spine. An epidural is essentially a local anesthetic that is combined with a narcotic such as Fentanyl (opioid). The fentanyl will not enter your blood stream and you will not feel “loopy” or “high” from the narcotic. When the time came, an anesthesiologist accompanied by a nurse came in to prep for the procedure. It is considered a sterile procedure so they do not allow your family or anyone else in the room with you, which creates more fear. He cleaned the area on my lower back where it would be inserted and prepped his tools. Try not to look at any of the instruments because you will regret it. A nurse stood in front of me and held my shoulders while the doctor counted to 3 and inserted the needle. It hurt a little more than any other needle considering the size of it. He fished around a little bit and a felt a “crunch” and then suddenly a shock going down the entire left side of my body. I started crying not so much from the pain but because of how foreign the feeling was and how scary the situation was. He was done and he replaced the needle with a catheter and placed a huge sticker on my back to keep it in place. The nurse waited until I was numb and she gave me an actual catheter because after you get an epidural you are bed bound until they take it out and you regain feeling in your legs.
I have heard that some women receive an epidural once and that’s it, but I had one that would be continuously administering medication and I also had a drip that I could press every 20 minutes if I needed more relief. The power of modern medicine is amazing, I went from writhing in pain to feeling comfortable enough to sleep. Eventually, my contractions slowed down and for 20 hours I was only in mild discomfort and having contractions only every so often.
It is extremely hard to move after you’re all epidural-ed up, to change positions you’re going to need a lot of help and it can become extremely frustrating, but make sure to move because if you’re on one side for too long, all the medicine goes to that side of your body and only numbs one side. You can move from side to side or you can prop your legs up and that seemed to work for me.
Breaking the Water
After so long with nothing happening, my Mid Wife came in and decided it was time to break my water because I was now dilated at 5 cm and she wanted to get things moving a little more. I was fearful that it was going to hurt, but it turned out that it was completely painless. She used what looked like a crochet hook and inserted it in me. I have no idea what went on up there but suddenly there was fluid gushing out of me. She applied pressure to my stomach to make sure that it was completely drained.
After my water had been broken they administered pitocin via IV. I had read online a little about the drug and how it was a pretty bad experience for other mothers, and they were right. Shorty after the drip started, I was experiencing more contractions that were extremely painful. Eventually the epidural was not working as well as it had and they decided to give me more potent medicine in the epidural. Even after that, the pain was pretty unbearable.
Pushing, Crowning, and the Arrival of Baby
A few hours after receiving the pitocin and dealing with pretty severe pain, I started experiencing a different feeling. It essentially felt like I was about to take the biggest shit humanly possible. I called for the nurses and Midwife and she checked to see how dilated I was but quickly realized that I was about to crown. A part of me knew before she had checked that I was about to have my baby. I got a huge rush of adrenaline but also a huge surge of fear went through my body. The nurses were holding up my legs and told me that I could start pushing. This was what I was most fearful of, how bad it was going to hurt when she came out. I started to push every time I felt a contraction, it felt like nothing was happening and I was hardly pushing. More than anything, this was just a work out. I was getting out of breathe and felt like I was getting tired, but it is so important to push as hard as you can unless told otherwise and to just power through. Within 10 minutes of this intense labor, my baby was out. I did not feel any pain or tearing. DISCLAIMER: YOU’RE PROBABLY GOING TO POOP
Immediately after the bun was out of the oven they took her away to clean her off, while they were doing that I didn’t realize that I had to basically give birth to the placenta. I expected it to be hard but the midwife put pressure on my stomach and told me to push and it came right out. It is the most satisfying feeling, it is a huge release of pressure. She then stitched me up because I had torn, which again I didn’t feel.
My baby was placed on my chest and she smelled exactly as she should, like she had been stewing inside of me for months. I did have that “ah ha” moment or feel overwhelming feelings, and I began to feel worried. I felt like I wasn’t connecting with my baby like I should. I now know that all that was is that I was overwhelmed with so many feelings and I couldn’t process them all. My love for my daughter grew quickly and grows more and more everyday. They gave her a bath and put her in the incubator to warm up. After that she was all mine to hold and love on.
The Healing Process
After the feeling in my legs came back (5 hours later), they removed the catheter and I attempted to walk. It feels almost like you’re a baby deer attempting to walk for the first time. The nurses took me into the bathroom to try to clean myself up a bit. Expect to bleed a lot and for a pretty expensive time. You basically have to wear diapers for a while. Try walking around as much as possible as long as it’s comfortable for you. Stitches dissolve and heal some weeks after. Try to take it easy and be kind to yourself, you have been through a lot. You may still look and feel pregnant for a few days or weeks after giving birth, your stomach may be bloated and you still have to wait to sleep on your stomach.
Enjoy the new Love of Your Life
My world changed forever that day, but I was so damn proud. I was proud of how much my body could do, I was proud of the masterpiece that I had grown inside of me, I was proud of enduring the pain, and I was proud to be a mom. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Don’t let the pain get in the way of the first few days you have with your baby because you’ll never have them back again.