1. Labor hurts. Really, really hurts.
There was a point a couple of days before Baby A was born that I was having painless contractions. I thought Braxton Hicks were just little contractions, or where parts of your belly would contract, but not offer the full experience. I didn’t have any of those – but I did have full on contractions a couple of days before, without the pain. My entire abdomen would tense up, look like a loaf of bread under my shirt, and then slowly soften.
I mentioned to B that maybe we should call the doctor because I thought I might be in labor, but I wasn’t totally sure. His response, which was actually really sound advice, was:
“If you’re in labor, I think you’d know it”.
When it did happen, two days later, I knew it, and it hurt. My back, my body, my everything. It took me 45 minutes to eat banana bread (which was the last thing I ate), 9 hours before the baby arrived. Overall, once it started, I knew it was happening. Before that I kept thinking “maybe this is it? I don’t know.”
When you find yourself saying “Ow, my most of me”, you know.
Oh god, do you know.
2. Doctors Not in Labor & Delivery Have No Clue What To Do With Ladies in Labor
During our first night of birthing class, our Labor and Delivery instructor told us not to go to the ER for anything relating to labor. We were to report to the 5th floor, and if emergency care was necessary, we’d be transported to a bigger hospital. Her reasoning for not going to the ER was that doctors that aren’t in L&D don’t know what to do with pregnant ladies who are in labor.
When she said that in class, we all chortled, giggled, laughed, and moved on without giving it a second thought. At least, didn’t give it a second thought until I was in labor.
When we arrived, I could barely get out of the car. When I did, I had to buckle over some strangers car, cry it out for a minute, then walk 20 feet to stop, cry and do it all over again. Meanwhile, there was a guy in blue scrubs walking to his car. He looked at us, turned his head away really fast, and completely ignored the production in the parking garage. Basically, he did this:
“La la la – if I don’t see it, it’s not happening…la la la”
I thought maybe it was the end of his shift, and he just didn’t want to deal with it. Totally fine. A little weird, but totally fine.
And then we got to the parking garage. There were two attendants at the help desk area when I started a contraction. I held onto the wall, cried for a minute, then looked up – – – and they were GONE! Poof, disappeared – like Roadrunner.
Once we got inside the lobby, the doctors and nurses seemed to totally ignore the commotion. The ones that did recognize that something was going on were standing in the doorway of the cafe as we passed.
Not a single one of them came over to help.
They stood there, staring and conversing like people watching Evel Knieval performing his next record-breaking stunt. Will she make it? Will the baby just drop out of her in front of the caf? Who will clean it up? Stay tuned – something might happen!
“Will she have it here? Now? Will we have to wait until next season to find out? The suspense is killing me!”
In fact, the only helpful person was the security guard who offered to get me a wheelchair. Sitting hurt too much, so I said I’d walk, foot by foot, to the elevator. The audience in the cafe thought my husband declined the chair for me, so they got a little judgmental. I felt like I was on a reality show, and they were watching from home. The only difference was that I could hear what they were saying because I was 5 feet in front of them.
“He should have got the wheelchair for her”.
“Why wouldn’t he let her have a wheelchair? I would have got her one.”
All I could think of was what they must have thought of my husband. He’s not the type to say “walk it off champ, deal with it”, and in that moment, that they would assume that’s what happened, is absolutely hilarious, especially considering that they just stood there with their medical degrees, coffee and muffins.
“Walk it off, Champ.”
Once we got to the 5th floor (L&D floor), everything was great. I stepped off the elevator and sat on my knees on the floor. I couldn’t go another step. A lovely nurse helped B pick me up off the floor. She carefully helped us navigate our way to the admitting desk, let me stop and cry it out a couple of times, and told us everything was fine. We were promptly put in a room, and everything was on its way to being great.
3. Epidurals – Don’t Be A Hero. Just Do It!
Seriously, this is a bumper sticker I want to have.
Waiting to get it was the hardest part. I was crying with each contraction. When our L&D instructor told us to have a mantra, I don’t think she had the cries of “Owwwwwwww, Owwwwww, Owwwwww” in mind, but that was all I had. Even the needle going in for the IV hurt like no pain ever before, because my threshold for pain was just shot. When the anesthesiologist showed up, if I wasn’t already crying, I would have cried happy tears for his arrival.
Here’s the deal with the epidural: it’s weird going in. An anesthesiologist is putting a needle into a very specific, small place in your spinal area. You are still having painful contractions and you have to sit up for the needle. You’d think it would be hard to sit still through contractions when someone is putting something delicately into your spine, but someone is putting something INTO YOUR SPINE. You find a way to suck it up for 3 contractions and not move very much.
It’s tingly, it’s a bit cold, but it’s fucking magic.
When my husband left, I was a ball of goo, crying, moaning, and in the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life. When he came back, I was smiling, sleepy, and joking around. For a 20 minute turn around, the ability to sleep from centimeters 5-10, and have the peace of mind/body that I could deliver our child without worrying about how much it was going to hurt was worth it in spades for me.
During Transition, my body started to shake and twitch. All I kept thinking was “wow, I’m really glad I don’t feel this, because I’m sure it would suck”.
Seriously, don’t be a hero. Trust me. Epidurals are your friend. A friend that only ladies can enjoy, so you might as well!
4. Hand Washing: Feel Like An ER Surgeon Without All The Annoying Schoolwork
I’ve never washed my hands so much in my life, and I work with dogs/clean dog shit up all day.
5. Breast is Best – But Hurts Like A Motherfucker
You’d think after pushing a 7 pound baby out of your whoo-ha, that nature would give you a break.
I’m all for breastfeeding. It’s natural, it’s cheaper than formula, and nutritionally complete for your baby. It’s a great bonding experience!
But it hurts SO MUCH.
The baby has no teeth, but the pressure such a little thing can create with the sucking motion of her mouth rivals any vacuum cleaner on the market. If Hoover could replicate the suction of a nursing baby, they’d make so much more money, and get so much more pet hair out of the carpet.
6. You Will Leak. A Lot More Than Expected.
Every time the baby cries, I feel like I’m leaking like a sieve. I’ve had to do more laundry for bras and shirts in the last week than I’ve done in the last year.
Scratch that. I feel like I’m leaking like this:
7. And You Thought The Belly Looked Weird When There Was A Baby In It! Wait Until Delivery!!!
When you have a baby in your belly, it’s round, it moves, and it feels weird when they kick/hiccup.
When they are on the outside, the movements they make at first seem to mimic the ones they practiced on the inside. You see a shoulder roll, and think back to the weird shapes your belly made for a few months. When they kick, you think about how many times that the baby kicked you in the ribcage, and though it hurt, you’ll miss it.
But, you look down at your previously big belly, and it’s gone. The organs have yet to move back to their place, but the immense pressure in the abdomen is gone, freeing up all sorts of space. Your belly feels empty – and almost like a sandbag. A very squishy sandbag. As the weeks go on, the organs drift back to their original spot, and you have a bit of a “pooch”, but it does feel mighty weird for the first 3-5 days after birth.
8. Surprisingly Hungry!
One thing that surprised me was how HUNGRY immediately after birth I was. I’ve heard women get really hungry after delivery, but I assumed that was a few days down the road. Pretty much after the shock of delivery had worn off, I was ready for the biggest, baddest meal on the planet.
Frankly, it makes sense. There you are, 9 months of having your internal organs shoved up under your ribcage, and suddenly, everything is free to move once the baby is out (#7).
Gravity helps, and everything starts to move back to where things are supposed to go. This frees up your stomach immediately. For the first time in almost a year, it’s able to expand without the threat of morning sickness, indigestion, or getting kicked by a baby.
Once I realized I could eat a full meal and NOT get sick, I ordered macaroni and cheese, and felt like this:
I totally would have done the dance, if I could feel my legs.
9.. Shock Is A Weird Thing
When my best friend had her baby a few months back, I had the honor of being in the room with her, her husband, and the delivery staff. When the baby came out, we were all crying with emotion (it was quite a long ride and an emotional roller-coaster for everyone involved, but mostly for her). I took the photo of the first look, when she finally got to meet her baby for the first time.
The expression on her face has stuck with me. That photo with her looking at her son who she literally just met said more in the vein of “Pleased to meet you, I’m your mom. How was your day?” than the overwhelmed “ZOMG, this is my baby and I will love it forever and ever, and holy balls, I had a kid!” that you see in movies and birth videos in class.
I pretty much was in absolute shock that I had a baby. They handed her over to me after she was born. I heard everyone say “oh my god – wow – look at that!”, and because I didn’t feel much, I assumed that was indicative that she was born. When I took her, I remember thinking “Hm. She’s really pale and covered in goo”.
I also recall feeling hungry (#8), tired, a bit overwhelmed, and totally in shock.
Before my husband went to help give her the bath with the nursing staff, I told him something to the effect of “I will love her. She’s great. But right now, I’m in shock and don’t feel a whole lot. I’ll see you in a bit. Take some photos”
I don’t think there is anything wrong with that feeling. Your body went through a pretty big trauma. Your baby went through a pretty big event. You haven’t eaten in 9+ hours, and likely haven’t really had good sleep in weeks/months. Now, you are suddenly not pregnant anymore, your belly looks funny, your baby is crying, and you’re starving. Plus, you are now 100% responsible for this helpless creature that you helped create and incubate.
And, you just met.
So it’s ok if you don’t feel that overwhelming gush of adoration and love from the exact moment of birth. Not everyone does – but it comes. For me, it was the next day, when it was just me, my husband, and the baby in our room. The sun was coming up, and it was a new day – we had breakfast, checked on Baby A, and realized that we were a family unit. Once that hit, everything clicked into place.
I’m totally in love with this kid.