My Body Did WHAT?! Pt. 1
Let's be real here: you don't know what you're about to go through until you go through it, Mama. Before I gave birth to my girl, I looked up story after story about random women & their personal birth experiences. Vaginal, medicated, natural, Cesarean, V-bac, etc. I looked at them all. Every single one was different, including those within the same "category" of birth. I just wanted to prepare myself for every possible experience and scenario. While I felt prepared for what was coming my way, it's still a whole different reality to experience it yourself.
So, to all my mamas who have due-dates coming up (or maybe you're a weirdo obsessed with the gift of life like me): I hope this 2-part blog gives you a little insight on what labor, delivery, and postpartum looked like for another random girl on the internet!
Now, a few disclaimers before we begin:
• My experience is with a *sorta* medicated, vaginal delivery
• This is my safe-zone...aka I'm not going to hold anything back from ya'll • While birth is beautiful, it sure as HECK ain't pretty
• Every woman & experience is completely different than the next..so wonderfully unique in every way!
In the wise words of Nacho Libre "so anywaysss...let's get down to the nitty gritty" !!
PART ONE: labor + delivery
It was a normal Tuesday night in early May, just a week before her due date. I was on the phone with my mom telling her how bored I was. They road-tripped in an RV from Arizona to New York & were due to get in the next day but she surprised me by saying that they would be getting in very late that night & we could hangout once they picked up the rental car the next morning! Yay! My husband finally came home from work & off to bed we went.
Or so I thought.
I had the grumblies in my tumblies (if you know what I mean...) All of the sudden they turned into a subtle period cramp & thus began that night's journey of traveling from toilet to bed, repeatedly. I never had Braxton Hick's contractions of any kind so I got my timer out on my phone (use an app that tracks it for you!) & began to track. If you don't already know, "real" contractions are supposed to be 5-1-1. That means contractions come every 5 minutes, for 1 minute, for 1 hour. Y'all. Mine were ALL OVER THE DANG PLACE. Every 10 minutes for 30 seconds. Every 2 minutes for a minute. Every 30 min. for 3 min. They were so sporadic I was sure they weren't true labor contractions! They just kept making me get up to go #1 & #2. At 1:50am I finally said "this is my last pee and I'm going to freakin bed." Little did I know "emptying the tank" would be so beneficial. I also want to make it clear that these contractions/cramps didn't hurt at all, they were like an annoying tummy-ache that kept making me poo.
2:00am...another contraction. I feel like I have to pee & as I sit up in bed, boom, bang, splash, my water breaks! I look over at my husband who is so soundly asleep (how sweet), hit him & declare "it's game time let's go!!" As he got our bags ready and called my OB office, I hopped in the shower, put on his sweats, & we walked down the apartment to the car. Luckily it only took 3 min. to get to our hospital at 2 in the morning.
Now is where I try to recollect the fuzzy fragments of what happened next...
A nurse leaving her shift saw us & ran back in the emergency entrance to grab me a wheelchair. As soon as I sat in that wheelchair my contractions were full-blown "I HAVE ARRIVED, WOMAN!"
They were like the worst period cramps I could have possibly imagined. And they only got worse. So if you're confused about what contractions might feel like, just imagine your worst period cramps yet & multiply that by 10 with each progressing one.
After I got checked in, we went up to labor &delivery, skipped the triage room & went straight into the labor suite. At this point my contractions were so bad I could hardly walk or stand on my own so my husband undressed me & put on my hospital gown. The nurse started doing some tests to make sure my water really broke & that all was good. I bounced on a ball until the shakes hit & I could barely keep myself on the ball.
Let's pause for a quick water break & talk about the shakes. I read about them maybe just a few days prior to giving birth. They don't happen to everyone! When my contractions seemed to be unbearable, my body began to shake/shiver like I was naked in the middle of Elsa's frozen ice tundra or something. It brought on cold sweats & teeth chattering so rampant I couldn't talk. From this point on I shook uncontrollably with every contraction. Yes, I was breathing & yada yada but I'm 99% sure my body was doing this to distract me from the pain & I just had to let it happen. My sweet nurse at the time looked at me after trying to put the IV in & told me I had the worst shakes of any patient she'd seen in years. Thx nurse D.
I'm not sure how much time passed but suddenly my water-break-membrane whatever test results were back and my OB was there checking to see how far along I was.
SEVEN CENTIMETERS DILATED.
"So I know you want an epidural, so let's get the anesthesiologist in here ASAP."
Ya'll...I felt safe & comfortable doing it still (I just needed some shake relief tbh) but if you do a quick search you'll find that 4cm is kinda the "max" they'll do an epidural. My labor was progressing like Speedy Gonzales & that took everyone by surprise.
My husband had to leave the room & it was just us three: me, the nurse, & the big scary man with the big scary needle (just kidding, he was very sweet & quite calming).
The nurse lifted me up on the side of the bed, hoisted my legs on a chair, & we timed the numbing shot & epidural with my contractions & shakes (he was warned that I was "a shaker"). With her elbows on my legs & hands on my shoulders, Nurse D looked me in the eyes & said "do not move..." With that, the epidural was in & we were done! Much more easy peasy than I imagined.
sidenote: do NOT under any circumstances watch an epidural video prior to giving birth. just. don't. bad. idea.
My husband came back in with my parents (surprise! they hiked through the woods at 3am to get a Lyft from outside their campsite...) & I could finally rest.
Both of my legs were mostly numb (at least it was even) but I could definitely feel my contractions. However, they were about 30% less painful & I wasn't shaking as much. Somewhat medicated was better than nothing, I guess!
The OB came in to check me & said I was ready for practice pushes. Ya'll I really thought I had more time to rest like other women seem to after an epidural but nooooo. I was hungry & tired but ready to get what felt like a massive bowling ball out of my "downstairs".
The Birthing Scene
Picture this: a nurse holding my left leg, OB in the middle staring into the abyss of life, my husband on my right leg, & my mom holding me up behind my back. My oxygen was low, so with each rest period I had on the mask.
It only took a few practice pushes to wear me out & start up the ring of fire.
Let's pause for a quick water break & talk about the ring of fire. Let's not forget that a human head is attempting (successfully) to come out of a small hole that reaches 10 cm. dilated. IT BURNS. Oh it burnt bad & the epidural does NOT numb that pain. Mine was wearing off by this point anyway but oh my HECK. It felt like the most itchy, rash, burning, flaming thing ever. It's like you mistook lubricant for icy-hot infused with ghost peppers. Clear enough???
It was 5:59 am. The real pushes began. It was go-time. The contractions were blundering, the shakes were back, the fire was burning, but with each push my mom pushed me up & the room cheered me on. I had oxygen for the minutes/seconds of rest & it was time to push again. The last few pushes I remember saying I was done, too tired to do the rest, but I saw Jesus on the cross & Mary holding my hand. My husband saw her black hair popping out & I pushed that little girl out with all my might. She splashed right out. Seriously, it was like a geyser erupted & even the OB took a step back so she wouldn't get splashed. Also, no, I didn't poo. Like I said, emptying the tank was very beneficial albeit annoying.
15 min. of pushing was all it took to see my precious, purple-grey baby girl, wailing in my arms. Slimy, healthy & perfect.
Sweaty & exhausted from all that happened between 2:00 - 6:14am that morning, I experienced the proudest moment of my entire life.
My 4 hour labor was quick, rapid, shocking, & quite the blur...But afterward, we began the most exciting journey yet...
more on that next week!