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What the Hell: A Labor Story

What the Hell: A Labor Story

People love to share labor stories. I assume that means you’d want to hear mine. My aim is for this not to be the typical play-by-play of how far my uterus was dilated (though, if you’re dying to know I’d be happy to give you the details) but rather, the many times during the process I uttered the phrase, “what the hell!?” There aren’t a few.

Spoiler alert: the word “vaginal” is used once in the following paragraphs. Read at your own discretion/peril.

I was induced because of medical reasons with my first pregnancy. I was also induced because of medical reasons with my second pregnancy. My body rejects pregnancy, much like my thighs reject maternity jeans. But enough about chafing and onto the story. Although I had experienced the joys of induction with my first delivery, I doggedly opted to attempt induction sans pain intervention with my second delivery. In other words, I was all like, “Who needs an epidural? I’m a woman. This is natural. Something, something, miracle of life.”

First mistake.

I’m annoyed that we haven’t come up with a better description than “its the worst pain you’ll ever feel.” Honestly. It does not cut it. It is the WORST pain ANYONE could feel EVER. EVER! For the love, people. This is primitive, raw, unadulterated, chew-on-a-leather-strap pain. Holy hell. After about 3 hours of active labor this was the conversation in my head: “Just remember, you can do hard things. You CAN DO HARD things. Well, you can kind of do hard things. Hard things are SO hard. This is not a normal hard thing. Why do you need to do this hard thing? Maybe you should commit to doing the next hard thing? Like, never sleeping again. That’s hard, and if I remember correctly, that begins in 3..2..1… Maybe skip this hard thing and do that hard thing. What are you trying to prove?”

The decision was made. Where is that doctor who works his sorcery? Tell him I’ve had an epiphany and I’m ready to embrace the relief of Western medicine at its finest. Fire up the epidural, and let’s get it going sooner rather than later. Oh, and hand me my chapstick because my mouth feels like I just chewed through a tree stump.

For discretion’s sake, let me sum up the next part:

“How am I supposed to breathe, again?”

“I AM PUSHING!”

“Look at that tiny bum!”

*sob sob sob*

And then boom: here’s your baby. Take him home and make sure he lives. Just like that? Theoretically, I understood this was the plan. However, even the second time around I found myself caught off guard. You mean you’re just going to leave him here with me? Is there a pamphlet? Something like, ‘So You Made a Person’ or “Small Human, Big Commitment.” Maybe a support group? A hotline? No? Alright, in the mean time I guess I’ll just stay here for a few days and eat egg whites from a carton and sleep on this plastic pillow.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, lets rewind to the immediate aftermath. Here are a few highlights:

About 20 minutes after delivery I started having contractions again. Because why not? They then explained to me that this was normal and the contractions help your body return to it’s pre what-the-hell-happened-here state. Also, you typically don’t feel them with your first pregnancy, this is just a little surprise you get with your subsequent pregnancies. Perfect. The gift that keeps on giving.

And if you’re not horrified enough, you then realize that peeing is an inevitability you can no longer escape. I was trying to get out of bed for the first time and the hospital policy was that the nurse had to assist you. After working to sit up as gingerly as possible, the nurse impatiently asked me in an exasperated breath, “were you a C-section?” Uhh. Nope, not a C-section. Just a lowly vaginal delivery. Apparently that doesn’t qualify these days for taking your time. I guess you’re right to be annoyed, nurse. It’s just that, when I pushed that 8 pound human OUT OF ME, like an hour ago, I think my luggage may have shifted during flight and any sudden movements make me feel like I’ll DIE. I know you have other patients to condescend but if you think you have it in you to lend me a hand and maybe quell my fears of anything else falling out of me when I stand up, I sure would appreciate it.

As for my ever-supportive husband (who did manage to offer several words of encouragement in between checking ESPN), he was exhausted from all of the hoopla and pulled out the cot to get in a quick nap. When he asked for a blanket they told us they were “out.” Completely out. They did however bring us a few pillow cases in the off chance he transformed into a Cabbage Patch kid making that a totally acceptable solution. I guess we could have turned on the baby warmer and he could have huddled over it like a camp fire but we didn’t think of that until it was too late.

Everything between that night and the next morning is a blur. Something about ice packs to mitigate the swelling (last I checked everything was still triple the size it should have been) and how a binkie would ruin my child’s chances at Harvard.

Fast forward to breakfast. I ordered waffles and they brought me a singular waffle the size of the palm of my hand garnished with some sort of leaf. Great, this is perfect. That will be sufficient for the next 20 minutes until my ravenous appetite returns and I start eating anything nutritive in sight including the limp waffle leaf and all of the mints in my purse.

So there you have it. Did I miss anything?

Oh, there was also the part about how I got to hold and love on the most beautiful, perfect, wonderful little specimen of a baby. That wasn’t so bad.

“And her heart grew three sizes that day.”

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