He was born. I am a mother. I gave birth.
June 17. 3.22pm.
And now I can say, never think you know what you're talking about, because most likely, you don't.
Birth is a humbling experience.
Here is my story (the abridged version):
My water broke around 2am on June 16. I knew it had "broken" because I heard a small "pop" and had read that I would hear this. However, there was no gush. Just a trickle that continued throughout the night. At around 6am I woke my guy up and told him in an excited whisper that it was happening. Labor had started. Except, I had no contractions. We agreed he would go to work and I would see how the day went. I was nervous as once one's water breaks then you are on the clock, so to speak, and I wanted to make sure the contractions started.
Cut to: Around 1pm my guy came home and we tried nipple stimulation. Then, I drank Castor Oil. And then, the beasts of contractions started. I remember at my hypno-birthing course we were told that contractions were better (and more appropriately) known as "surges". All good in theory, however I prefer the word "ice pick in my uterus" (a.k.a. IPIMU). Then, I emptied out everything in my colon and then in my stomach. It was not pretty. So, I started having IPIMU's around 3pm so we got in the car and picked up the doula, Paula.
Cut to: I am writhing in pain and we arrive at the hospital only to find out I am only 2cm dilated and the natural birthing room I had my heart set on was possibly unavailable. They sent us out to walk around. So, we walked to the beach (the hospital is right on the beach) and watched the sunset and every few minutes I would stop walking and hunch over in agony. It was surprisingly painful.
Cut to: We arrive back at this hospital and now I am only 3cm dilated, but they let us into the natural birthing room (on the way I throw up again). They were not going to admit us to the natural birthing room but my guy really argued for me and they figured it out. So, we walk into this room and immediately I begin to feel better. I love this room. Big double bed and candles and an en suite bath and shower. Note: this was about 8pm. So i immediately get into the shower and don't care that I am naked and the doula is in there with me. The shower doesn't really help the IPIMU's.
Cut to: It's 5am. Previously the doula had mentioned that she sometimes agreed with people before labor that the code word for "epidural" would be "peanut butter", so she could talk about it with the client during labor and not have the hospital staff be put out. In any event, it's 5am and I find out I am only 5cm dilated and I cry "peanut butter". Well, I didn't really, I cried out, "I need an epidural". The doula asked if I really wanted it, but after looking into my eyes, my guy knew to take me seriously. We immediately were transferred to the "normal" room. I said good bye to the amazing midwife we had, and was wheeled out.
Cut to: The regular room sucked. There was nowhere for anybody to sit. It had bad lighting and was tiny. However, I had the epidural and for a good few hours I was happy. I was numb. I would have an IPIMU and not know it. HOWEVER, this was short lived. The epidural was wearing off on one side and so I started feeling those m**ther f*&kers again. And then I just wanted to MAKE IT STOP. I was wishing (secretly) for a c-section. Anything to put me out of my misery.
Cut to: Around 12pm in the afternoon and I was finally 10cms. This very Israeli hard core midwife kept telling me to push and pull my numb legs up but pulling a "dead" leg is not easy. And, I was in real pain. I was like, I don't get it, why is the epidural not working? I felt like I had been cheated. They give me Pitocin to speed things up.
Cut to: I guess around 2.45pm or so they tell me I need a vacuum delivery as it has been too long. That said, the constant thump of my baby's heart was consistent and we knew he was OK. I will never forget the eerie sound of the heart monitor all those hours. They told my guy and the doula to leave the room and about five other people rushed in. It was a strange sight and a little alarming. I didn't care though as I knew the end was in sight.
Cut to: I know they have a vacuum type thing they are using and all of a sudden I feel his head come out and then they say, OK, push the shoulders out now. And I do. And then they held him upside down and I saw a shock of black hair and quite frankly, I will never forget that image. I was in complete awe that this little being had been inside me. They called my guy back in and he cut the chord and then they whisked the baby to a bench and weighed and measured him. Then wrapped him up and brought him to me and I held him and then put him to my breast and he appeared to feed on it for a little bit.
Cut to: The damn placenta. That hurt. They pushed on my tummy and pulled it out. Meanwhile I found out they had cut me and so had to stitch me up. Which HURT. And then they had to put a catheter in me. Which HURT. Then my guy went with the baby to get checked in the nursery.
And there is more, but that's enough of the story.
So, here I am four weeks later. The birth was a very traumatic event for me. One of the most in my life. I have never experienced pain like that. My guy was amazing and breath taking and I am truly lucky to have had him by my side. But, it was as if I was ripped open. Emotionally. That birth altered who I am.
So all my months of talking about a "natural birth" and here I am. I had so many interventions. So I am humbled. I did labor naturally for as long as I could. I think if I had been dilated more I would have stuck at it, but by 5am I was too exhausted to keep going without the epidural. Did I feel like I failed? No. I did what I did. I wanted it to be different, but now I see what everyone was telling me- the birth isn't that important. I mean, it is on a profound level, but not in terms of how I gave birth. I wish he wasn't vacuumed out of me. I wish I wasn't cut. I wish wasn't given the drugs. But, it is what it is.
And now I have this being. And these four weeks have been really hard. And do I feel like I have bonded with him? More and more, but not as much as I thought. I don't think I expected him to come out so defined in terms of him being him. He is who he is and he doesn't feel like MY son, but a being I am helping into the world.
And, if I think back to that moment of seeing his little body for the first time with that head full of dark hair then yes, I am overcome.
Right now though, I am praying he sleeps for another half an hour.
You are wanted and loved.