Today’s “Coffee with New Moms” is brought to you by…me! If you’re unfamiliar, click the “About Me” link in the menu above. (No, it’s not a guest post. We’ll be back to that in two weeks.)
Recently I wrote about how being a mom is the Best Job Ever, and something I mentioned was how amazed I was at how you just adapt to new challenges a mom, and that you’re stronger than you think.
One of my biggest fears was giving birth. Of course you hear horror stories from veteran moms about how it felt like “doing the splits over a stick of dynamite” (thanks, Gilmore Girls).
And then there’s simply the fear of the unknown. You haven’t experienced it, and most people don’t typically see it happen. All I really knew was what the movies showed: a pregnant woman breathing hard in a rhythm; the race down the hospital hallway with the daddy-to-be, mom threatening to punch him for having “done this” to her; stirrups, screaming, instructions to “PUSH!!”, and a little red baby that suspiciously looks a couple months old already.
My reality wasn’t much like that at all. It actually went a lot smoother than I expected, thank God. Here’s our birth story – the good, the bad, and the funny.
It begins on a typical night, ten days before the due date. We have Chinese food for dinner, as I’m feeling a little too weighed down to cook. I crack open a fortune cookie and read, “You will have a pleasant trip,” joking about it being to the maternity ward. Later, we go to bed – James to our room, and me to the basement, on the only place I can sleep comfortably, our sectional sofa.
In the middle of the night, I wake up and dash upstairs to go to the bathroom – not unusual. But it just…keeps going. I realize my water has broken, and it isn’t too long before James is awake.
He calls the hospital, where they say to come in, but take our time. We are driving to the hospital, and I’m just pumped. We’re having a baby! We get to meet him today! I don’t know if it’s the endorphins or the adrenaline, but our nurse says I look “pretty jazzed” as we sign in.
I’m not feeling anything at this point. Our nurse (who was fabulous, by the way) hooks me up to the monitor and asks me some questions. I’m having contractions, but not feeling them. I’m still jazzed.
James and I both get a little rest, and in the morning my doctor, who happens to be on call, comes in. As I’m clearly in labor (but still not feeling it), they give me pitocin to speed things up. We finally start hearing back from the grandparents, who will wait until a bit later to get on the road to come down to meet us.
Sometime around mid-morning, I start feeling the contractions, which are more like strong, uncomfortable cramps. They offer me some IV meds, and I take them, then sleep more; then a few hours later, we repeat that process. Those meds go straight to my head each time. (I think I said something about my head getting heavy before it hit the pillow.)
The next time I wake up, the nurse asks if I’d like the epidural at this point. “I don’t think I need one yet,” I say, trying to be brave, even if the pain is a little stronger. She recommends at least paging the anesthesiologist. It’s a good thing she does – by the time he arrives, I am ready for the epidural.
This is my unglamorous, please-stop-taking-pictures-of-me, I’m-about-to-have-a-baby shot.
For those who are unfamiliar, contractions hurt, but they felt more like intense pressure that knocked the wind out of me. I always thought it would be more like a slicing feeling, but it wasn’t like that for me. The epidural was a little scary and hurt some, but it was worth it for me, for sure.
James is doing surprisingly well through all of this. He is holding my hand all the way, even watching it all fearlessly (although he admits watching me get the epidural is the scariest thing he’s ever encountered). He shows me cat memes, and we laugh at them together. He tells me he’s proud of me and helps me to sleep when I can, defending my rest from anyone who comes in or leaves noisily. “He’s going to make a great dad,” I think. (I was right.)
Once the epidural is done, it’s only a couple more hours until it’s time. I rest for most of it, but my body moves into action quickly. At one point I’m woken up to be checked, and told I’m ready!
Forgot to mention that through all of this, I am texting people from my job, as we have an event that night that I put together. I’m trying to get everyone to communicate with each other instead of me. Of course I go into labor that day. But I really have no room to worry about it.
Okay, time to go. I’m surprisingly not self-conscious with all the people in and out of the room as I’m going into labor. I can feel a tender spot in my lefthand lower back, but otherwise, I can’t feel anything, and it feels great.
Pain or no, pushing is hard. There’s a reason they call it labor. James is on my left and the nurse is on my right, both cheering me on. My doctor seems super-focused, not his normal, friendly self, but hey, we’re both working hard, so I don’t blame him.
After a good amount of pushing, Theo literally pops out, having to be caught by my surprised doctor. James bravely cuts the cord, after some prompting by the doctor and nurse. They rush to put Theo into my arms, and immediately I’m a sobbing mess. They’re trying to clean me up, making sure I’m okay, and I’m just sobbing and talking to my baby. They take him to a table to weigh him and check on him, and I just gaze at him.
He is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Seriously. I know they say to prepare yourself, because babies don’t arrive cute like you think they will, but he is gorgeous. He cries, and then seems to stop and take it all in, then cries, then stops.
And from then on, everything is different. It’s like crossing the stage to graduate from adult to parent. And you’re just trying to make it through the day, hoping you get it right.
Giving birth was just the first time I had to overcome what seemed impossible at the time. There were various times later I felt I would not be able to make it through – breastfeeding, lack of sleep, working and taking care of Theo, getting back in the swing of things – but you just adapt. Things may not happen according to plan, or in any way like you would expect, but you are strong enough and smart enough, and you will make it happen, for you and your little family.