To all the expectant first-time moms who are curious to know what happens in a labor room, here is my personal story. They say every woman has a unique experience and I couldn’t agree more. I want to share mine because although it wasn’t all sunshine lollipops and rainbows, I wouldn’t have it any other way (just not for my second J). Plus, when baby Makai is old enough, he will know how he arrived into this world. To those of you who have already experienced childbirth similar or different than my own, feel free to comment or share your story.
9 months of coexistance with my beloved Kiwi. And I still knew nothing about him… or motherhood, for that matter. All I knew was, I had gone through the motions and I was DONE with them… from my bloated days of looking 6 months pregnant on week 6, to the vicious nausea strikes in the streets of London, to the inconsolable tears on my way to work in Bujumbura, oh and that heartburn, something in the atmosphere in Addis just made it unbarable! Anyone who saw me during my pregnancy knows, just how painful this heartburn was, I made sure of it. And as you can see, even today, 5 months post-partum, I am still complaining about this incorrigible offender… But ladies (yes I’m assuming only a woman can possibly read past the first few words here), allow me to digress a bit…Is it just my experience, or pregnancy is really not as glamorous as it’s made to look? Why was I 33 years old, and not aware that it was just a series of discomforts that escalade to peek in the last hours… minutes… and seconds… before delivery ? A humbling experience I tell you ! I have nothing but respect for all the ladies who have gone through the experience time and time again. (Mom, I never got a chance to tell you that I’m sorry for ever thinking that you knew nothing in my adolescent years. If youth knew, if age could.)
Anyway, so as I had started to tick off the days on my calendar 15 days pre-due date, like a prisoner impatiently waiting for her release, and my OBGYN had become growingly annoying as she repeatedly said « that’s a big baby you’re growing in there » at my weekly follow-ups, the day arrived when I suddenly felt an unusual cramp in my tummy… Could it be time ?
With a sort of naive excitement I took out my phone and started timing these « mild cramps ». And in between, I asked my best friend Google (yes, my best friend… because Google knows everything about me before anyone else in my life). Digression again, sorry. So 6 hours later, I knew for sure these were the contractions I’d spent the last 38 weeks waiting for. FINALLY !
Now they are 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long and it’s been more than 1 hour, yay… They’ve become strong enough that I can’t sit, think, or talk through them. Let’s run to the Hospital…My bag’s been ready for weeks now (thanks ladies !). We arrive at St-Michaels and I’m praying that I’m dilated enough to be admitted and get that wonderful shot I’ve been fantasizing about. 3cm, they say… surely, after 12 hours of growing pains, they will feel sorry for me and give me something to ease this horror ! Right ? We hop in the elevator just before the next contraction. As the doors are closing, they open back up and I suddenly feel like I’m going to burst into laughter. Why this sudden, so very inappropriate need to laugh ? This is such a non humourous situation ! Just seconds ago, I was feeling sorry for myself and secretly looking for compassion in others… but now, two people just entered the elevator, their pain is so great that it is written all over their faces and it makes me look like I am taking a walk in the park. They looked totally unimpressed with mine. For a moment I felt like a joke !
Just a few minutes later I am in the triage room, I waited for the doctor to check if I could be admitted. Medical students, don’t hate me for this, but this kiddish looking guy came in at some point to check on me and I thought, he can’t possibly be in charge of me right now ! He looks like a teenager ! I felt half reassured when his boss came in and checked dilation and effacement. Bad news ! 90% effaced, but only 1cm dilated… not even close ! I am sent home. « Could be days before real labor starts » she said. I wanted to slap her !
Anyway, let’s head back home, we have no choice. But as we are passing the first set of doors to get out, a miracle ! I think my water just broke ! Regardless of dilation and effacement, they have to keep me around now J. Small victory.
They now tell me that I need to walk around to accelerate labor. They even suggested I go to a small diner close by to have breakfast while I wait to reach that 3cm mark. Yes, they went there ! I mean, sometimes I wonder if Hospital staff hear themselves. Did I look like someone who is willing or able to eat anything ?
A few hours later, I finally get admitted and get that wonderful shot. It’s magic ! I feel nothing. Labor is bliss ! I’m enjoying my popsicle, chit-chats with my labor room advocates ; guys, I can do this anytime anywhere !
But wait, I’m starting to feel pressure…wait it definitely hurts now. Ouch ! This is surreal, I wanna cry. Why am I feeling all the contractions now ? It’s only been a few hours since the shot ! 4 hours of pure agony and no progress, I’m stuck at 8cm ! Where is the anesthesiologist ? I’ve been begging for a top up ? NURSE !!! Get me the Anesthesiologist NOW !
2nd epidural in. I feel a slight relief but that lasts just about 10 minutes. Now the OBGYN is starting to talk about doing a c-section if things don’t progress in the next hour. I mean, talk about pressure ! People, you can’t make me go through all this to end up with a c-section !
Luckily, 1 hour later, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. 9 cm, but I feel like going in there myself and pulling out this baby. Why is he so comfortable in there anyway ?
Shortly after, I realize that I’ve now been in this hospital nearly 24 hours. I’m past the ice craving, 2 ineffective epidurals and the overwhelming nausea.
The nurse finally says the words I’ve been longing to hear : « 10cm, we’re going to start pushing ! » Halleluyah. Never in a million years had I imagined that I would be excited to start pushing since it was the single element of childbirth that scared me the most. What did I know ? Pathetic.
3 contractions, 3 cheerleaders and badaboom ! Before I knew it, in a moment of exhaustion and exhaltation, this squirming little being was swiftly placed on my bare chest.
I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me. He cried and so did I, for different reasons, obviously. But what I knew was that he was Mine and I was His. Wow ! What a relief.