by Pallas Hutchison
As soon as my baby bump made it's first appearance, I got inundated with helpful tips from everyone I knew - and several people that I didn't know. My older female relatives smiled knowingly at me when I decided against getting an epidural. The larger the bump got, the more people tried to give me unwanted advice. Women in the grocery store would stop me, trying to put their hands on my bulging belly while telling me all about how they almost died during labor and was I looking forward to childbirth? Not surprisingly, I was terrified.
Pregnancy itself seemed comical. An early ultrasound revealed that I was having twin boys. Later, the techs changed their mind and my due date shifted from August 10th to July 26th. Somewhere in the middle of that time frame, they decided I had been pregnant long enough and that the baby needed an eviction notice. Having gained over 70 pounds during the pregnancy, I was fine with that plan. I got hooked up to an IV and they gave me petocin to induce me. Either the baby didn't get the memo or the petocin didn't work because, after 12 hours, nothing had changed and I had to stay overnight for monitoring.
The next day, I played cards with Shaun while the machines kept drawing lines on a chart. According the machine, I was having contractions. I kept waiting for the pain to start. My mother would come in and check on us then go report back to the friends gathered in the waiting area. Nurses would wander in, make a note on my chart, then wander out again. At one point, my mother and the nurses started talking to each other in the doorway. I registered this in my peripheral vision but ignored it. The pain hadn't kicked in yet, which told me labor hadn't actually started, and I had a card game to win.
We never did finish that card game. Shortly after that hushed conversation, my mother told Shaun that he may want to leave for awhile. He, also absorbed in the game, took a few minutes to realize what that meant. Labor had started without me; the expected pain still hadn't hit me. [A side note, Shaun didn't meet his niece until three days later.]
The doctor gave me something to help me sleep and I entered a bizarre cycle of snoring then waking up for each contraction. I don't remember much but my mother said it was hilarious. Once I had dilated sufficiently, they switched me from the hospital bed to a birthing stool to let gravity help with the process. Shortly after that, the baby slid out followed by placenta and childbirth had ended. I remember saying That's it? I'm done? because the pain still hadn't reached my expectation. The nursing staff seemed surprised and amused that I found childbirth almost anticlimactic.
Six hours after labor started, I held my perfect baby. Honestly, my first impression of my daughter was less than flattering. She looked like an eggplant. Her was head squished up, her face purple from yelling. She had little tufts of hair on her ears like an elf or a troll. Today, my little eggplant turns thirteen. She finds these descriptions of her newborn self funny. She jokes that she got to pick her birthdate, not the doctor.
The second time around, I knew what to expect so it went even easier. I went in with a git'r'done attitude. Three hours later, I held my second child.
My purpose in sharing these stories is not to brag or to irritate those who had difficulties in childbirth but to reassure those who are being told the same horror stories I was. It seems that those with a bad experience share the loudest, scaring women who are going through this for the first time. A woman's body is made to reproduce. Some have an easy time, some do not. To the best of my knowledge, having a difficult labor is NOT a genetic trait that gets passed on from your mother. Childbirth should be a time of joy, not fear.
What is your birth story?