The following post was cobbled together from memory, from fragments previously written and saved and from e-mails sent to friends. Please excuse the clumsy writing. It's been a while, and I'm out of practice.
C* and I had this birthing thing all planned out. I had read the books, gone to the classes. I knew what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, what to bring.
Comfy jammies. Check. Two CD cases filled with music. Check. A deck of cards. Check. Snacks. Yep. All in a bag in the corner of the birthing room along with a TENS machine, a newborn diaper and baby's first onesie and socks. This birth thing was going to be a piece of cake, I thought. C* and I were going to play games and pig and rock out during the 12 or so hours I was expecting to be in labor.
Wrong. Wrong. Double wrong.
After nearly a week of contractions that led nowhere, the midwives did their blood pressure and baby heart rate checks and I was taken to the labor suite at 2 pm on Sunday, February 10, a mere 10 hours before Elliot's original due date. My cervix was only 2 cm dilated, but the doctor was determined to break my water, determined that I would give birth within 24 hours.
I had previously been told that I had excess locum (amniotic fluid) because of the gestational diabetes, so much so that the baby's head had failed to engage in my pelvis because she was literally floating in my uterus.
Doctor: OK. Here I go.
maarmie inhales and exhales deeply about a million times to get the full effect of the gas and air, the main pain management method she had chosen for the delivery. What a joke.
Doctor reaches through maarmie's cervix and uses a sterile plastic hook to tear through the amniotic sac.
maarmie: Puff puff puff puff puff puff puff puff
More liquid poured out of me than I ever thought imaginable. The midwife had to change my bed several times and mop the floor more times than that in an attempt manage the flow of the gallons of fluid that poured out of me. I was disgusted and confused. I had no idea it would all be this........wet.
During the initial gush, when the effects of the gas and air were at their peak, I had a vision. I remember thinking that I all of a sudden realized what was REALLY going on. I remember thinking that I had figured out that this was some kind of plot cooked up by C*, the midwife and the doctor, that, in reality, I was on my deathbed, that I was dying and that my soul was going to be exiting the world to make way for the baby's soul to enter it, that the liquid draining from my body was my life force and that I was being sacrificed so the baby could be born. I remember being horrified that I had been tricked so easily, that C* had tricked me so easily, but I wasn't upset about giving my life up for my daughter's.
I asked C* about it when the doctor and midwife left the room, though, and made him promise several times that what I was envisioning wasn't really happening.
After my uterus had drained a while, I was told to get upright and walk around for a bit in the hopes that the baby's head would push down on my cervix and get the dilation ball rolling. After more than an hour, it was obvious my body was going to need additional help, so the midwife hooked me up to an IV filled with oxytocin. Nine hours later, the contractions were coming and I was puffing on the gas and air like crazy, but, again, the contractions hadn't been strong enough to get me past 3 cm. Just when we were thinking I'd need an emergency C section, my cervix popped open all the way, and we were in business once again.
About labor: If women knew what labor was REALLY like before they went into it, I'm firmly convinced they'd never get pregnant in the first place. Perhaps mine was worse because of the several failed inductions, five days of internal exams, on and off contractions and general psychological mind-fuck, but labor, as I remember it, was a nightmare at the time.
Just like they tell you, contractions are like a wave. You know it's coming, because it builds and builds and you can feel it's getting ready to plateau and then it's excrutiating and then a bit more excrutiating and you don't think you'll survive it and you're yelling and then it tapers off and disappears. Then you have about a minute break until you can feel the next one building. Just when you think it's never going to end, on and on and on with no headway, you get the worst contractions of all, ones that make every cell in your body pray for death. During these contractions, you have no choice but to push. That's all your body wants to do and you find yourself having these horribly painful contractions WHILE your body is also pushing this huge object out your vagina. Contractions and burning, that is all you feel. All the while you've got people standing over you telling you what to do, to push your chin into your chest, grab under your thighs with your legs bent in the air and push, push, push. One push is bad enough, but each contraction makes you push at least three times. After the second time, you just want to die.
I never cursed during the third stage of labor, just yelled "I can't! I can't!" over and over - for about an hour. Of course C* was standing to my left side cheering me on telling me how good I was doing and I was just looking at him like "Whatever! I'm not doing good! Leave me alone!" I never said that to him of course (even though I wanted to) and he told me later that he knew what I was thinking because it was written all over my face. But once the head was out, the body quickly and easily followed as did the placenta, the largest the midwife said she had ever seen. Enter Elliot at 2:34 am on Feb. 11 after exactly 40 weeks of pregnancy and a little more than 12 hours of labor.
All the waiting, all the fear, all the pain. It was all worth it, in the end, for my wonderful Elliot. Everything in my past - the guys I thought I loved, the jobs and careers I thought I wanted, the possessions I thought I needed - are nothing, mean nothing, compared to my lovely baby girl, my precious Boppy, my beautiful Bopbop. Until I married C* and became a mommy, I wondered why my life felt so empty. Now I know. Thank you, C*. Thank you, Elliot. You have both made my life so full.