Several months ago, I wrote a post about pregnancy (here) explaining my experience (thus far) and encouraging women that it was okay not to be the chipper, happy-go-lucky preggo lady society things we need to be. Frankly, pregnancy is hard, and harder on some than others. If you had an easy pregnancy, I envy you but am happy you didn’t have to experience mine. I vomited most of then 9+ months.
Last Tuesday, October 1, at 0834 our baby girl, Natalia Elizabeth, finally arrived! I labored for about 13 hours, pushing about one total, under the supervision of a very skilled, hilarious midwife and naval captain. The birthing team on deck that day was fabulous; in fact, everyone in Labor & Delivery (and the Multi-service Ward thereafter, where we stayed until discharged) were top notch. I feel very blessed to have delivered in a baby-friendly facility (and highly recommend finding one, if possible).
With regards to the labor and delivery, and subsequent stay thereafter, several rather amusing but eye-opening thoughts did pass through my head. I thought I’d share them with you. (Note: this may be too much information for some, but as I spent hours combing Google and baby forums for anything that would help me determine what the heck was going on, it might also be valuable.)
- First and foremost, figuring out whether or not you’re in labor is confusing. There are so many indicators that may not indicate anything. Vaginal mucus discharge is one. It can be so thick and viscous, you aren’t sure whether or not you’ve lost your plug. (Note: heavy bleeding that soaks more than one pad an hour, or a discharge that is tan or green (or some other worrisome color), contact your doctor immediately.) I never quite figured out if I lost my plug. I merely kept waiting for labor to begin because, as I thought at the time, worrying about this kind of thing doesn’t help your body to relax in preparation for the approaching work.
- You just might explode. Quite literally. I experienced a strong, somewhat painful popping sensation as the husband and I were driving back into town. I liken it to a fist suddenly punching through a latex balloon. A gush of fluid came next…and it turned out that it wasn’t my water breaking.
- Husbands do panic, even combat veterans. Mine stepped on the accelerator the moment he realized I might have started going into labor. I had to calm him down in order to take some lead out of his food (and keep us from getting a ticket). Therefore, also remember that keeping your head despite whatever might happen is good for the both of you.
- While 14 hours from start to finish is the average for labor, it can go faster than that. It can also go slower. And you might end up having to go to the hospital more than once. I did; twice, in fact, within five hours’ time. The second time, thankfully, they didn’t send me home though I wasn’t dilated enough (initially). As there was another labor in progress when I arrived, they forgot about me for a bit. By the time they checked on me again, I was halfway there!
- Know what you want going into the birth. If you want to do it naturally, you MUST go into it with the mindset that you’ll see it through to the end, regardless of the pain (oh, the pain!), unless you and/or the baby are in distress. (Don’t be hardheaded if something does happen. It’s not your fault that you might need emergency care, and it will safe one or both lives.)
- Somewhere in the middle of labor, you will reconsider having all those children.
- Somewhere in the transitional phase of labor, you’ll realize that you’re almost there.
- You know when you’re ready to push because your body will start doing it for you. Don’t hesitate. Get the nurse, doctor, midwife, whomever and go for it.
- You will believe that the baby will never come out.
- You will believe that the baby will get stuck permanently as it crowns.
- You will believe that you sound like a dying cow, or worse.
- Your husband may crack jokes with the hospital staff while you’re pushing. Try not to kill them. Laughter still is the best medicine for the soul, even if you’re not the one doing it. And God knows they need to laugh after the stress of watching you go through intense labor pains.
- Your midwife or doctor may tell you afterwards that you push “like a gorilla.” (I’ll take that as a compliment, thanks.)
- It is highly uncomfortable to wait for them to cut the cord. Their pressing on your belly feels even worse.
- However, no matter how it looks when it arrives, the alien that had inhabited your body for nine-plus months will no longer gross you out (unlike in the birthing videos). You’ll be more than happy to hold him/her skin-to-skin, still slimy and all.
- No matter how uncool it is, your husband may consider skipping around the room for joy. He may also take charge and do sponge baths, change poop diapers, and generally try to hold the baby as much as he possibly can, all the while wearing a cross between the goofiest teenage grin you’ve ever seen and a look of tenderness that melts the heart.
- You will be known as “the Boob,” according to baby. Best get used to it.
- You’ll have never realized that, as happy as you were before the baby was born, you could be many times happier until the moment your baby arrives. Smile and immerse yourself in the joy.
- Take advantage of the wisdom of those who have gone before you, including fun lactation consultants who are considering dressing up as the Milk Fairy for Halloween.
- Remember: pregnancy was preparation; birth is the beginning of an amazing, blessed journey.
And when they finally release you from the hospital? You can hardly believe they’re letting you take this precious bundle of joy home. You’re a bit fearful of driving away. One of you will end up in the back seat, just to watch…in case. Their little heads bob around. They make faces, cry, or fall asleep. And then they sleep a lot…and eat a lot…and make messy diapers…and then do it all again, around the clock.
And you’ll still find your love for them growing…