What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I was a child-bearing fence sitter. I have always loved children, many like they were my own, but I didn’t have this overwhelming desire to be a mother.
Although I didn’t have that proverbial biological clock ticking, I knew the realities of attempting pregnancy at 35 plus. I mean in my family of teen moms, people were grandmothers at my age! And so like any perfectly reasonable adult person, I left it up to my partner.
“If you really want a baby, cum inside. If not pull out. I ‘ll leave it up to you.” I told him.
After three months of freaking out every time he didn’t pull out, I was knocked up. It was then that I realized my misgivings weren’t really about the pregnancy or the having a baby. I was terrified about the labor and delivery. And now there I was with a baby in my body and only one way out. I decided that I would just get a C-section and that was it. This was Los Angeles after all, birth-place of the convenient, almost glamorous scheduled C-section.
Well, those scheduled C-sections are a bit harder to come by when you're on a government-assisted health care plan, but I lucked out and had a labor and delivery that was pretty much as easy as it gets. I’m not talking "magical water birth, spiritual awakening, orgasm when the baby comes out" kind of deal, just an easy breezy, epidural-cushioned labor, with only the minor embarrassment that I may have pooped.
Less than 2 years later, we decided to do it again. This time I was pregnant after the first try! I was beginning to see why everyone in my family was pregnant by the time they were 18. I felt like quite the contraceptive master for being pregnancy free so long.
I had a slight nagging feeling that it couldn’t possibly go as well as the first time, but I was as unnatural as it got when it came to labor and delivery. I happily took every drug offered to me. Screaming that sounded like aliens were ripping through your guts was just for moms who were doing things old school. More power to you ladies, but that’s just not how I roll. I roll paralyzed from the waist down. Have I foreshadowed the WTF moment coming enough yet?
Now before I go into my horrible labor story, I would just like to say that by no means do I think my labor was even close to being the worst one ever. I wave my white flag from the get go, mommy war proponents. You win, with your 80 hours of pushing with nothing but a horse bridle to bite on while you squatted in a makeshift birthing pool.
Trust me, I don’t even want to go through what it would take to win the worst labor and delivery award. This is just my experience. The story of a woman who considered herself an ideal patient, not at all squeamish. A lady who took pain like a champ in the past. Someone who survived a near fatal head-on collision that crushed her right leg, SEVERED her Achilles tendon. Yet was completely taken down by the pain of child birth.
The morning of my due date, I sprung a leak. I had no contractions, but they checked me in because I was due and would probably be induced within 24 hours. The triage area, where you wait until you get your birthing room, soon became jam-packed, with lots of ladies way further along, ladies screaming bloody friggin’ murder as panic-stricken men wandered the halls looking for ice chips.
I was happy to finally leave the chaos and was escorted to my labor and delivery room. The halls were full of women cursing, voices hoarse.
“Poor things!” I thought. It was probably too late for them to get their epidural! I had nothing but love for epidurals. I couldn’t wait to get mine! Sure it was disconcerting to get a bazillion inch long needle pushed into your spine, but after that horrifying discomfort, it was all pain-free peeing in a bag while you sat back and watched E! Television.
I was induced about 12 hours after I was checked in. I was holding steady at 4cm dilation or four fingers as I like to call it, because yes, they measure your cervical opening using their fingers. Apparently modern medicine has better things to do than to work on creating state of the art cervix dilation measuring doodads.
After I was induced, the cramping started getting stronger, so I quickly requested my epidural and then I slept all night in comfort. When I awoke the next morning, I was at 6 cm dilation, but the baby still had not "dropped." Around 11 am that morning, the pain started ripping through me. To describe it as period cramps times a billion doesn’t even begin to describe it. It felt like I was being gutted with a rusty meat hook.
It was a pain so great that it turned me, a women who 12 hours ago was scolded by my anesthesiologist for making everyone belly laugh while he was trying to safely stick a needle into my spine, into the world’s biggest, whiniest, most self-absorbed, rude baby in the world.
“I had an epidural!” I frantically explained to my nurse. “Why is it not working?” I screamed as another jolting surge of pain took hold of my uterus.
“It is working, but you’re still feeling the contractions somewhat.” she replied.
SOMEWHAT!?! That was not want I wanted to hear. I wanted her to say that she would do the epidural version of turning the volume up to 11. But instead she told me that she would put in the call to the anesthesiologist to come as soon as he came out of surgery.
I’m not kidding, the pain was so bad that in that moment it seemed perfectly reasonable for me to ask the nurse to see if he could leave the surgery in order to help me. WHO AM I? I thought as the request left my mouth. I’m a person apologizes when someone tells me that I don’t have to say I’m sorry!! The pain had turned me into a total asshole.
The anesthesiologist finally came and gave me some more pain killer. As I whimpered and stared at them with eyes that begged for help, everyone just went about their business and acted like everything was perfectly normal. It was almost like they saw this kind of thing all the time!
For the next three hours, the pain would subside temporarily after I got another dose of whatever pain killer they were giving me, but it never full went away.
During the most painful moments, I was a complete mad woman. I tried to bolt out of my bed and run down the hall screaming, but the nurse held me down, reminding me that even though it didn’t seem like I had an epidural, I was in fact still basically paralyzed from the waist down.
I screamed and writhed and cried. I begged them to cut the baby out of me. I considered murdering my partner when I noticed him taking a bite of an 8 hour old turkey sandwich. I basically humiliated myself for three straight hours and I didn’t even care. I spent my pain free moments eating ice chips and vomiting after eating ice chips. I gave not a single fuck.
After all of that belly-aching, my baby still had not dropped. I was over it and requested a C-section. My no-nonsense doctor tried to convince me to try pushing first. At this point I was beyond exhausted. Her request for me to push seemed as ludicrous as asking someone who had been up for three straight to help you move out of your fifth floor walk up.
But after seeing my completely-right brained, geeky doctor, do her awkward impression of a birthing cheerleader, I felt I had no choice but to try.
And so I pushed for 30 minutes and the baby finally came out. It turned out my enormous baby was caught on the umbilical cord. The pain my doctor theorized, may have been bone on bone blahblahblah something I didn’t hear because I nearly fainted at the mere mention of bones rubbing on other bones in a painful manner.
It was over. Well, except for the painful afterbirth delivery and oh yeah, the stitching up of my perineal tear, all things I had never felt in those halcyon days of my first labor.
I had a 9 pound 5 oz. 24 inch long baby girl, who just didn’t want to let go of me. And yes, cheesily enough, it was all worth it. Five months later her hand now grasps my shoulder, she smiles a toothless grin every time she sees my face and I’m the one who never wants to let her go.