When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I read every book I could get my hands on to ensure that I had the most successful delivery in all this history of deliveries. I studied the Bradley Method in all its deep-breathing glory, and scoffed at the mere mention of Lamaze. My body was made for this, and I was determined to deliver without an epidural. My due date came and went, and I began to feel anxious. My most recent appointment at the obstetrician’s office confirmed that my son was already well over eight pounds. There couldn’t possibly have been room left for him to grow more. But apparently, there was. He found space, and grew himself into it.
With each passing day, I grew more and more irritable. I was uncomfortable in my body. I could barely breathe, heartburn was a constant companion, and I spent more time peeing than not. On my ninth day of purgatory, I decided I’d help my little guy along by getting my own labor started by consuming all the pizza, wings, and cheesecake I could fit into my belly. It doesn’t sound logical now that I see it all typed out, but it made plenty of sense at the time. About an hour later, I began feeling pains that I dismissed as gas (because Lord knows I had plenty of that). They began to come approximately every hour, but I tried not to get my hopes up.
Clearly, I was on to something with the food method of labor induction. The next morning, I was able to breathe considerably better because the baby had begun positioning himself for his debut. After losing my mucus plug, I knew our time was coming soon. I went to Target to grab some last minute baby stuff, stopped by Burger King for a Whopper with cheese (which was the first beef I had eaten in almost three years), and then kept myself as busy as possible. Armed with a notebook to keep track of my contractions, I was ready. Or so I thought. No one is ever really ready. While you may take the time to read all the books, the baby doesn’t bother to read a damned thing. And they don’t always follow the well thought plans you may have made.
The trip to the hospital was horrific. My contractions were a little less than 10 minutes apart, and every single pothole had me cursing like a sailor. I got checked in and once I was hooked up to an IV to keep me hydrated, a nurse came in to check my progress. “You’re almost seven centimeters dilated!”, she said excitedly. “You should meet your little one by 6:30.” I glanced at the clock, whose traitor arms told me that it was only just after 2:00 in the morning. Now I’m going to make a quick suggestion here: clocks in the delivery room (at least where the birthing mom can see it) are a terrible idea. The worst, in fact. I watched that clock like a hawk while implementing the deep breathing techniques of the Bradley method. And the Bradley Method is absolutely phenomenal. If you plan to have a baby anytime soon, it’s worth reading up on.
Anyway, 6:30 came and went without the arrival of a baby. By 7:00, I was just about flagging down anyone who walked by. I don’t know what kind of operation these people were running, but I needed this situation resolved immediately. My nurse came back with the doctor around 9:00 (this was clearly the hospital of broken promises) to check progress, and to give me a shot of pitocin to speed things along a bit.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with pitocin, it’s a hormone given to strengthen contractions in childbirth. It is made from Satan’s tears of joy, which becomes quite obvious within about five minutes of your injection when you are plunged into the seventh ring of hell. Let me tell you something: there is no coping method for a pitocin-induced contraction. I focused all my thoughts inward to keep from losing control altogether. I eventually changed my mind about the whole childbirth thing. I mean, there had to be a way out of this. Right? There’s no way something so painful would intentionally be created without some sort of escape hatch. Couldn’t someone knock me out for a bit? Wake me up when it was all over?
I stayed dilated at nine and a half centimeters for what felt like eleven days. My contractions were right on top of each other with less than 30 seconds in between. The urge to push was stronger than I ever could have imagined, but I wasn’t allowed to until I was fully dilated.
Finally, the time arrived. I’d read in the books that the weight of the baby moving through the pelvis would cause me to become numb in the nether regions, practically eliminating pain in the area. I’m here to tell you that’s a lie. It’s one of the biggest lies ever told. I had been lured into a false sense of security, believing that once I got through the worst of the contractions, I was good to go. What the books don’t tell you is that you should be realistic. You should understand that when you are pushing a watermelon out of a lemon-sized orifice, there will be unmentioable pain involved. The overwhelming urge to push will immediately be met by the feel of your body being ripped in half as the life inside of you claws its way into the world. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. But only slight. I had never regretted my decision to forgo an epidural than I did in that moment
My son came into the world at a fighting weight of nine pounds, eight ounces, and a length of twenty two inches. Yep, you read that right. I didn’t realize this before, but I’m a descendant of Amazonian women, and destined to give birth to babies who are capable of killing dinner with their bare hands as soon as they are out of the womb.
My son was beautiful. I’m not just saying that because he’s mine, but because I’ve seen some ugly babies. Most of them are when they are first born. They resemble little aliens who’ve been baking in liquid for way too long. They’re pink and wrinkly, and don’t quite look human. My son wasn’t one of those babies, though. He came into the world in what looked like the body of a two month-old child. He was able to lift his head right away, and immediately began looking around the room. For me. The nurse placed him on my chest, and I absentmindedly apologized for almost breaking her hand during one of my more painful contractions. After barely having the strength left to place a kiss on his head, my eyes closed against my will and I fell into the most gratifying sleep is ever had.