Two weeks ago, we had our baby! As the final week approached and my due date came and went, I grew frustrated and antsy for him to just come out. I wasn’t sure I could make it another week. I had my Monday evening appointment and was given a slip to visit the Ultrasound Technician the following day. Although we were fed up with our baby getting way too comfortable inside of me, my husband and I were excited to see him.
After our appointment, we walked around the mall per our midwife’s advice– I got some funnel cake, AJ had a pizza, we stumbled upon this stellar eyebrow threading place (who knew!?), and then we went home. Since it was Monday night, AJ got some ice cream and we watched the Bachelor. By eleven o’clock, my stomach began to feel bloated. I looked over at him and told him I wasn’t feel so good but I secretly chalked it up to the ice cream. The unspoken truth was that “tonight” was the “night,” as was every night for the last month. I decided to go up to bed after he did. When I finally did get to bed, I glanced at our overnight bag, our baby’s overnight bag, and his unused co-sleeper, feeling deflated. Monday nights are also when we take our weekly progress picture. We forgot that night so I added that to the list of things irritating me. The week prior, I got semi-dolled up, saying, “Just in case he comes tonight and this is our picture.” I shrugged the feeling off, knowing we had been praying for his arrival since thirty-seven weeks.
Side story: I tried to urge myself to surrender the anxious feeling as Oprah taught. My husband tried to do the same; however, it is almost impossible when you’ve been waiting nearly a year to meet someone you’ve created. Our feelings were a mix of irritation because we had no control over my labor and then pride that we were in the final stretch and then irritation that our feelings of irritation would go away as soon as he came out! You can see why it would be hard to surrender. He was all we thought and talked about. Nevertheless, I was completely over being pregnant.
Anyway, I forced myself to sleep. I was done working that Friday and the weekend went by so quickly I forget how we spent it. I was worried about the weeks to come. There’s only so much nesting a girl could do!
Five o’clock in the morning, I gradually awoke but I felt like my eyes were shot open or were open longer than I had been awake. I had enough energy to barrel out of bed (more easily than I usually did) and use the bathroom for the fifteenth time throughout the night. I got back into bed, played on my phone for a little, and finally dozed off. Seven minutes later, I was shot awake again. I dozed off easily, buried in the plushness of my comforter. And then, six minutes later, I was awake again. This time, I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was filled with second trimester energy. I grabbed my phone again– my go-to for reading material so humdrum it bored me to sleep– but my body wasn’t budging. That’s when I noticed that whatever he was doing wasn’t just kicking.
I opened my Baby Center app immediately and began timing. Yup, five minutes apart and just about fifty to sixty seconds in duration. I couldn’t believe it! As a matter of fact, I didn’t believe it. Contractions were supposed to be painful. Mine were also not rhythmic like our midwife described. I imagined a heavy basketball slowly being forced down into a pool of water (the pressure being the baby’s head expanding my cervix) and then being swept back up (at which point the contractions would respite). At twenty-seven weeks, after having Chipotle and some fiber gummies before bed, I experienced severe Braxton Hicks while sitting at work the following morning. They came without a warning and landed me in the hospital for the rest of that evening. I thought it was gas and tried to tough it out for two hours but ended up dragging my feet to my car, honking at the slow-driving maniacs in front of me who couldn’t tell I was obviously headed to the hospital. JWoww couldn’t describe the feeling better, “It feels like someone is taking my intestines and trying to pull them out of my asshole.” With six-thirty closeby, I felt nowhere near what I had felt that afternoon. Following that episode, I had felt tiny, brief contractions but they never intensified like the Braxton Hicks. I even felt a little discouraged because some of the contractions I was feeling that morning were beginning to spread out. But I didn’t want to waste an embarrassing trip to the hospital so the idea of prodromal labor eased me despite my already brewing aggravation. Perhaps I had unknowingly surrendered by feeling disappointed.AJ began to wake up around six-forty and I rolled over and said, “I’m timing what I think are contractions.” He became wide awake, describing how excited that statement was for him to hear. The sun was rising slowly and I had to use the bathroom again so I did, joking with him about “today” possibly being “the day.” An hour had already gone by so I decided to stop tracking. I emailed the data to my mother and mother-in-law and went about my business. AJ and I took a belated picture, I swept the living room floor, I called my mother who predicted I had three or four more days to go based on the tough exterior I usually wear for my mother, and then AJ and I sat together on the couch and ate eggs. And then, suddenly, it hit me. I told AJ in a panic that we had to get to our ultrasound appointment right away. I wriggled upstairs, shaved my legs, double-checked our bags, and cursed myself for the dishes not being one hundred percent done. I had been nesting successfully and the day I felt we wouldn’t return without a baby, I barely completed all of my chores. Nonetheless, I was prepared and excited to go to physical battle (a task warriors of women had been doing for centuries to date) for our baby.
When we got into the car, the pain settled. A mile outside of the hospital, I couldn’t breathe. We called our midwife and I answered her questions through huffs. By the time we got inside, I opted out of a wheelchair and was able to walk to the Women’s Center but, in the hospital bed, I was crying and shrieking. The pain is bad when I have to exclaim how bad it hurts. The nurse asked me to rate my pain, ten being my foot being cut off by a lawnmower. I gave her the number ten because it felt like my cervix was being run over by a lawnmower and drug through and out of my body. I had no idea what was going on– all I knew was that someone had clearly performed witchcraft on me.
We got to the delivery room and I was given something in my IV that made me nod off instantly. The nurse assembled a stack of consent forms and I scribbled less than a signature on one of them. I’m very fortunate to be in a legally binding relationship because AJ took care of them for me, bless him. We left our bags in the car because we were still in our this-isn’t-happening mindset, so, at one point, I asked AJ to get them before we forgot. He was worried he was gonna miss the delivery and didn’t want to risk it so I assured him I’d hold off on all dilation until he returned. There was no way I was allowing our baby to pass through my cervix without an epidural, anyway. There is no way I’d ever do a natural childbirth willingly. He returned probably seconds later with more than enough time to spare. I honestly have no idea what he did the entire day. I slept pretty much the whole time. I woke up at the peak of some of the contractions and once when AJ ran into the bed. I said to him, “AJ, be careful of the bed, please.” And then I jerked awake from the bed being jolted by his foot a second time and said, “AJ, what the fuck?” He apologized endlessly and I felt terrible for cursing at him, I did.
When the nurses woke me up to give me the epidural, the anesthesiologist asked him if he was good with needles. AJ is typically a stoic guy so I felt that something was off with him through the haze of the medication as he rubbed my shoulders. I wailed through the epidural shot and then went back to sleep shortly after. AJ would later tell me he felt like falling out.
Three hours after the epidural, I did three rounds of three consecutive pushes (falling asleep in between them and having to be woken up by the nurses). AJ told me he had hair, which would explain my ongoing heartburn that caused me to spit up like an infant in the middle of the night. I didn’t realize how much progress was being made until I felt his shoulders leave my body and.. out came our boy! My mother flew in from Florida immediately and kept telling everyone, “I’m grandma!” to which they’d respond that we looked like sisters– I wasn’t sure which one she was enjoying more.So that’s our fortunately smooth labor and delivery story– seven hours for a long-legged eight pounder. It took me two days to do my hair a week after we brought him home and breastfeeding is excruciating. Of all the literature I’ve read, I hadn’t stumbled upon anything entailing the pain of breastfeeding. It feels like a lawnmower running over my nipples.