I think it's pretty safe to say I was not prepared for labor. Oh, I sure thought I was. I read lots of books, and I did exercises, and I did loads of visualization (i.e., daydreamed about how Zen-like I would be in the face of contractions -- unmedicated!). But as long as you're unwilling to face how mind-blowingly painful and unpredictable labor can be, you're going to get your ass kicked.
I got my ass kicked.
Literally. I had back labor, which felt like a sledge hammer slamming into my tail bone over and over again. I did not anticipate that! It made me do crazy, crazy things.
1. Declared my allegiance to an unmedicated labor. What the hell did I know? My labor nurse was a great sport about it, though. She didn't try to talk me out of it. She just said okay, let's go for it!
2. Banged my head against the floor. The first few hours of labor were fine. Then, the pain escalated -- like an out-of-control train. When breathing exercises and counter-pressure and pacing and hot showers failed, I started banging my head against the floor. For some reason, this seemed to counteract the pain in my back. But the labor nurse made me stop.
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3. Questioned the whole idea of having a baby. My sweet labor nurse kept saying, "Just think, when this is all over, you'll have a baby!" This made things worse. WHAT?!? A BABY?!? I'm not ready for that! For some reason, this came as a horrible surprise to me. I don't know what the hell I thought this whole pregnancy project was all about before.
4. Hid under the hospital bed. That's right, I was so deranged with pain, I actually tried to escape it by crawling under my hospital bed. Reader, it found me there. You cannot hide from the pain.
5. Ate horrible hospital soup. I read a lot of Ina May Gaskin, who rails against hospitals that don't allow women to eat during labor. Women are working hard, they need energy! So when the hospital brought in some soup (awful-smelling canned vegetable soup I'd never eat in my right mind), I had a few spoonfuls. Turns out, your body is working hard AND DOES NOT WANT TO DIGEST ANYTHING BECAUSE IT'S BUSY, GODDAMMIT! This led to ...
6. Vomited buckets full of bile. I did not know my body could make so much bile! I was almost impressed, in fact. Quite the accomplishment.
7. Took a nap. So, by now my midwife was there and all that vomiting had stalled my labor for two excruciating hours. After all that hell, I was still dilated only three or four centimeters! So I gave in. I got a pitocin drip and an epidural. It was such a huge relief after eight or nine hours of labor that I napped for a full hour.
8. Believed my midwife's lies. They let the epidural wear off so I could push. My midwife kept telling me the baby was ALMOST CROWNING! even when my baby was nowhere near crowning. This went on for at least an hour. She was playing Jedi mind tricks on me because she could tell by now I was just the sort of wimp to give up halfway through pushing (which I did, but that's when she started yelling at me).
9. Showed my lady parts to the entire hospital. So many hospital interns, the nurse, the surgeon who helped stitch up the tear inside my vagina. At some point I think they even let the orderly emptying the wastebasket have a look. "Quick, does anyone else need to look up my VAGINAHHH?" I called out as they wheeled me off to my room.
10. Demanded pizza. Upon delivering my child, I asked my husband to run across the street to Two Boots Pizza and get me a slice of Mr. Pink. I had worked hard and needed my energy, right Ina May?
11. Fell into crazy, helpless, google-eyed love. I've never loved anyone as much as my son, especially at that moment, when they laid him on my chest and I held him for the first time. I've been smitten ever since.
What crazy things did you do during labor?
Image via Adriana Velez
Something my kids handmade
A fun holiday at home with my family
Some time off!
Something just for me, like a plush robe