Wife/mother/woman crap: March 2009 Archives

Playing God

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I was reading Jonniker's birth story (she just had a baby and this photo made me cry instantaneously) and then she started talking epidurals and I began thinking about the boys' deliveries.

I did not want an epidural with Liam because I thought I was a super hardcore street chick and I could power through the pain. Just - no. OMG. I think at one point during a contraction I gripped Chris's hand so tight his bones bent like reeds and I growled through my teeth "I THINK THIS BABY HATES ME." I was in labor for 13 hours, thirteen long hours, and Liam decided midway through labor that he just up and didn't want to come out. Then they put me on pitocin which is Latin for "will blow your lady business off." Chris wisely stopped saying things like "breathe through the pain" because all I wanted to do was punch the pain in the face. As the contractions tore me apart several floating heads revolved around each other in my mind, faces of my grandmother, the old lady at church, and other women who told me I was CRAZY to attempt a birth sans drugs.

And then there was the episiotomy which is also Latin and means CUT, PAIN, BLEED, OMG, SCREAM. I screamed so loud and at such a weird frequency that when you watch the birth video? Which we've only done once? My scream SHAKES THE PICTURE. Not like someone with an unsteady hand would shake it - it oscillated. I was that woman. I felt badly about it, until I realized that not everyone has the same pain and perhaps I could handle another woman's pain whereas she might not be able to manage mine.

I really tried to be cool about the whole pain thing in front of the hospital staff, I really did, I tried my best, but at some point it felt like I was splitting apart like a wishbone and I just could not deal with it. Because of this my labor slowed and Liam was stressed and he accidentally swallowed some meconium. They had to pump his itty bitty belly to get it out before he cried and while they did that Chris watched in horror, his face completely drained of color, as the hospital staff worked to stop my bleeding and stitch me up. I yelled at him to GO, stand by our baby, as I had ceased to care what happened to my body at that point. (They had trouble stopping my bleeding and I lost a lot of blood, commotion, drama, blah, blah, I was too involved in staring at Liam to care.) He screamed until they put him in my arms and then we both were silenced for we were home. 

Afterwards, as I sat on my little hemhorrids pillow and proclaimed Tucks to be the best invention ever, I vowed to never go au naturale again. It works for some. Not for me.

I had an epidural with Ewan as soon as I possibly could and it was the most awesome thing ever in the history of the world. Prior to that, though, the L&D nurse with hands the size of Texas was charged with checking my dilation progress and I felt like a Thanksgiving turkey. I SLEPT through my contractions. Literally. They rolled my hoss figure over and I held Chris's hand and he played with my hair as I slept.
They say that babies get still before delivery but not Ewan. He squirmed and fought all the way out. As they paused delivery to suck out his nose he opened his eyes and glared at the hospital staff. He was the crabbiest baby ever, albeit precious and lovable. He didn't cry, he just yelled.


They'd weigh him, he'd yell. They'd swaddle him, he'd yell. He yelled at them when they tried to put his little hat on; he yelled at them again when they bathed him, again when they put his hospital bracelet on; finally they put him in my arms and he stared at me and then raised his eyebrows. I laughed, he yelled at me, and then we went to sleep.

I felt like Gumby trying to shake off that epidural and Nurse Texas literally had to prop me up on the loo and it didn't help that I laughed hysterically the entire time. Sure there was pain after the epidural wore off, but I felt better both physically and emotionally. I had actually enjoyed my labor. I didn't try to power through it just to get the pain over with; I actually felt that the absence of pain helped my sense of awareness. I was able to relax between pushes and focus on my baby being born and not the hellfire that was my Unspeakable Region.

I actually looked forward to labor. I once wrote that I disliked being pregnant, at which certain women felt the need to get snippy. What they didn't know was how hard pregnancy was on me, the severe dehydration because I was deathly - as in nearly bedridden - ill nearly the entire duration of my first pregnancy and for the first trimester of the second. The weight loss because I couldn't keep anything down, the severe dark circles under my eyes, my anemia; it was NOT a walk in the park and at times I was so sick I wanted to die. We actually considered not having subsequent children because of it. I did look forward to labor because I knew that in a few hours' time there would be another person on Earth by my doing. It's the closest you get to playing God.

I haven't completely ruled out going through it for a third time.

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