So You're Having a Baby!?

Congratulations! They're pooping everywhere these days. Oops! Sorry! I meant POPPING UP everywhere. It's funny how you go from sipping mojitos on a Saturday night with friends recounting all the drama that went down on last Monday's Bachelor to all waddling into lamaze classes and planning your first baby shower. And then the day comes, the day you have meticulously prepared for. D-day. Delivery, not doom, silly! Although, doom might be the right word if you are a bit of wimp like me. 

Most women, upon seeing the double line on a pregnancy test, immediately run to the book store and purchase anything they can find on pregnancy and labor. Some women hire a doula and meet with them several times before labor to emotionally and physically prepare for the big day. Some women start strict exercise routines in order to be fit and strong for the endurance and strength that labor requires. Some women join couples classes that meet weekly and discuss the proper skills needed to give birth as a team. And some women eat frosted flakes by the boxes every day and just let labor come to them. I fit somewhere into the last group for my first pregnancy. I'm not exactly proud of that. 

I had the "ignorance is bliss" mentality when it came to labor and delivery. "Don't tell me," I'd say to anyone wanting to share their birthing story in fear I would want to back out. As if I had a choice. I didn't want to watch videos of live birth or recount gory details from friends who had pioneered the unknown territory before me. I attended all my OB/GYN visits, I took my prenatal vitamins, and I ate frosted flakes. Pregnancy wasn't easy for me, dealing with tremendous tail-bone pain and constant bouts of sickness, I just wanted it to be over. The grass will be greener on the other side, I thought. After nine uncomfortable months finally came to an end, labor approached like a ticking time bomb. 

Two nights before my due date of my first born baby, I began to have signs I was going into labor. I arrived to triage in my summer dress and flip flops. My husband and I made light banter as I laid on the bed with monitors attached to my belly as we watched the computers tell me I was having good contractions. I was pleasantly surprised thinking, “I can't even feel this. I am going to rock this labor. I won't even need an epidural". The nurses encouraged me that I was well on my way to having this baby soon, but unfortunately it wasn't going to be right away because I was only 2cm dilated. They encouraged me to go home and relax. After all, this could be my last night without a baby. Because of my lack of education on the subject, I wasn't quite sure what to watch out for to know if labor was really imminent. The nurse gave me a look like you would expect any know-it-all to have and said, "honey, come back when you've been screaming for three hours and can't breathe anymore". Oh! That's encouraging.

We walked out as the sun was setting and as I scooted into the front seat of the car, I felt something. It was a strong squeezing sensation. Like my stomach had just been twisted into a knot and all my muscles spasmed at once. A few moments passed, and another one came on. The pangs continued every few minutes or so and by the time we ended our 15 minute drive home, I was growing increasingly uncomfortable. Our tiny two bedroom apartment was about 90 degrees inside. My husband offered to take me back to the hospital but being the literal person I am, I declined and started the timer for three hours and not a minute less. Within moments, I was in tears. The contractions were back to back and my pain was increasing with each one. I started to vomit with each one. I frantically paced the apartment searching for a comfortable position. In and out of cold showers I went and I kept wrapping icy towels around my neck. I can do this, I thought, just three more hours. The time passed and my husband and I packed the car with our hospital bag and swooped up my mother on the way back to the hospital. She sat behind me in the car and cheered me on. When we arrived at the hospital, I could barely make it into triage. I expected a team of nurses to be standing at the door with a blue ribbon for me to run through with my hands in the air as if I had just won gold at the Olympics with flowing Bruce Jenner hair. I couldn't control my emotions. I was shouting and crying and trying to gracefully vomit in a tiny white bag the size of a pepsi can that the hospital provided. The minutes felt like hours and I was impatient to get checked into a room. 

"We can't check you into your room until your'e admitted into labor. You need to try to calm down, you are frightening the other women in triage,” the nurse told me.  Next thing I know, another nurse is checking to see if I’m dilated any more. It was obvious I had made some progress, I mean look at me! I was a hot mess! They checked me out and took one look at me with their smug little faces and said, "you're 2.5cm." Are you kidding!? With the amount of pain I was in (and probably to keep me hidden away from on-lookers) the nurses decided to admit me anyway and escorted me to my delivery room. At this point it was about 11pm. If you're wondering how long it took me to ask for an epidural, we are waaaaay past that stage. Perhaps it was a busy night, because I waited for the anesthesiologist for about six years. I was pleading with God to end this now as the anesthesiologist walked in. She was glowing and bright like an angel. She was the light at the end of my tunnel. She prepped her tools and asked me to sit on the edge of my bed and be as still as possible. This seemed about as easy as trying to catch a slick salmon jumping up stream with vaseline all over your fingers. After several attempts of getting me to sit still, the angel did her magic and slipped in the epidural. By now it was 1 o'clock in the morning and I was rightfully exhausted. The numbness slowly took over my body and I finally got the break I was pleading for. The nurse checked my cervix one last time and I had made some great progress. She encouraged us to get some sleep while we could because this baby was coming soon!  

At this point, my husband and mother took to the couch and laid opposite directions so they could catch some z's while they had some time away from the squawking banshee (me). My mother, who was unaware of my husband's touchy feely side while he sleeps, was awkwardly awoken to his hands massaging her calves as he slept, unbeknownst to him. He was {probably} dreaming of his hot wife. We would come to hear this story a few weeks later. We love to tease him about this and he's still in the dog house with my dad for that one. Some blissful hours of sleep had passed when I was awoken by something warm. I had surely wet the bed, I thought. 

"Justin," I whispered. "Justin," I whispered again. "JUUUUUSTTTTIIINNN! I need a nurse." The nurse came in and I told her with a pitiful shame that I had wet the bed. "Oh honey, your water broke," she giggled. It was getting close! I was still so wonderfully numb and enjoying life when all of the sudden, I started vomiting again out of nowhere. Oh please nurse, pass me another tiny white bag so I can daintily vomit in it! I didn't understand. I wasn't feeling anything so why was I vomiting? The nurses assured me it was normal to do so during transition, because your body is experiencing tremendous pressure even if my brain wasn't recognizing it. Soon, there were a half dozen people in the room preparing for the arrival of our baby. The doctor arrived and gave me the thumbs up to start when I was ready. After about an hour of pushing, there she was. They laid her on my chest and I, overwhelmed with emotions, held on to her as tightly as I could with tears pouring down my cheeks. My whole life changed. I was never going to be the same.

We named her Ireland. She weighed 7lbs, 6oz, and was 19.5'' long. She had the tiniest nails I have ever seen and her toes clung to my skin like a little monkey. She was everything. 

My birthing story will always be one that my husband and I can laugh about now that I have moved on from the emotional turmoil and shame I experienced during those first few hours before my epidural. Yes, I was the lady scaring the other patients in the maternity ward with her outward cries to God to end it all. Yes, I was the girl who thought she wet the bed during labor. Yes, I was the girl who thought she could survive a drug-free labor without any training or formal classes. 

Over the next several weeks, I learned more about myself and my body than I could have ever imagined. I declared I would NEVER allow another baby to grow inside my body again! But then my heart started to change and the love I felt for my daughter was like a drug that I wanted more of. Two years later, I was begging my husband for another one. Five months after that baby, I find myself pregnant with my third child that I would eventually bring into this world drug-free (which we’ll save for another time). 

Popping out three babies in five years threw my world into a whirlwind. Being the mommy to my three babies has been a treasure beyond tangible value. The love I have for them in my heart, body and soul, cannot be measured. Pregnancy, although I'm not a fan, is actually a really beautiful thing. Labor and delivery can also be a beautiful thing. But the most beautiful thing of all, is the transformation from woman, to mother. Labor wasn't easy, I won't sugar-coat it. However, this time, the grass is actually greener on the other side.


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