Before you start reading, let me just tell you that I have given birth seven times. Seven times. Twice pain-med free. So get off your high horse right now because that’s a lot of babies that I’ve pushed out of my body. One was a still-born so I know all about how a healthy baby is the real thing we need to focus on. This is my story and I get to tell it how it was. Don’t you dare say that you feel sorry for me that my birth wasn’t perfect because your natural pain-med-free birth was wonderful in every way. You can tell your story on your own blog. This is my story and it is true.
You know how every child loves to hear about the day that they were born? Last week was Adelaide’s eleventh birthday and her birth experience was trotted out as usual. Most of my children were born with epidurals and there was much joy and happiness surrounding their births. My makeup looks great in the pictures and there was much smiling in the room. But poor Adelaide. Her birth story is this: pain. So much pain. And she was purplish. I think. I couldn’t even look at her really, because I hurt so much.
I honestly thought that by the time I had baby #5 that she would just fall out, things being all loosey-goosey down there by that point. My previous two labors had lasted for five hours from start to finish and surely this one would be shorter. This might be the perfect time to try natural childbirth and see if it really was as amazing as everyone said.
My sister and I had the absolute joy of being pregnant at the same time. There is nothing as great as having a baby at the same time as your sister. Not joking. It’s really awesome. I never thought this would be the case because I had gotten a nine year head start but things worked out! So we decided to try Hypnobirth together.
Hypnobirth was pretty good and I do have to say it helped me stay on top of the contractions for the most part. But the class itself was hokey and my sister and I and our husbands just sat at the back of the room and cracked jokes and were generally silly and disruptive. But when they’re saying that the only reason having a baby hurts is because we expect it to hurt (they use, as their entire basis for this theory, a story about some dumb Victorian girl who had a baby and it didn’t hurt because she didn’t know it was supposed to hurt. Uh, sure, Ok.) If we didn’t expect it to hurt, it wouldn’t hurt. So even though you’re pushing the equivalent of a cantaloupe out of your hoo-ha, it’s only your imagination that is making you feel pain. Seriously. Only a man could come up with something that ridiculous.
I was very disappointed to learn that Hypnobirth is not actually hypnosis and there would be no waving a pocket watch and saying, “you are getting verrrry sleepy.” But I do subscribe to the notion that total relaxation can make pain a lot less intense during childbirth. So I practiced all my visualizations and relaxations and was all ready for the birth.
I had the bad planning to get pregnant with a due date the day after my birthday. There was NO WAY I was going to chance having a baby on birthday thereby ruining my entire life, so I decided to get induced a few days before my birthday. Since I generally have my babies right on time, this seemed like a prudent decision.
This meant I had to do a non-epidural childbirth while being induced. And you know what, Hypnobirth really helped me stay on top of the contractions. They still hurt like a mother bear, but I could take it. I sat on my yoga ball the entire time and felt not too horrible as long as I was concentrating on walking down peaceful garden steps and with each step becoming more and more relaxed . . . .
But then it came time to push. OH MY HEAVENLY DAYS PAIN DOES NOT EVEN COME CLOSE TO DESCRIBING THE HORROR. I probably only pushed for five minutes, if that. But I can’t imagine that being burned alive slowly while having my skin flayed at the same time could hurt any more.
The whole Hynobirth hypothesis is totally wrong because I literally thought going into it that it would hurt a lot less. Not so. It was so painful that when Ada came out (who at that point was named Clementine) I could not even open my eyes, everything hurt so badly. It was like no sense or logic were coming into my brain because trumpets of pain were blaring into my skull. Mister caught the baby and I remember him holding her and trying to put her on my chest and I was like, “get her away from me!” Not that I didn’t love her or anything. At that point I felt like my only reality was self-preservation. If I felt one more thing I would explode. Finally he said, “well at least open your eyes and look at her!” And I remember trying to say, ‘I can’t even open my eyes. It all hurts too badly.” It probably came out as a mumble. I eventually pried one open and she looked kind of purplish but mostly I just felt like I had been ripped in half and that’s all that I knew.
The thought of holding her just put me over the edge. I simply could not do it. I did not possess enough strength to even lift my arms up, let alone cradle a newborn. It sounds really wimpy and babyish now that I’m writing it, but in case you didn’t know this little tidbit: childbirth is painful and that is no freaking joke. I thought some sort of euphoria was supposed to kick in and all the pain would go away the moment I saw my baby but that most assuredly did not happen.
Mister was thrilled that he got his baby girl all to himself, though, so he was relishing every second. Usually he plays second fiddle to the mother-child bonding session, but he got to cuddle Ada all he wanted while I tried to gather together the shattered pieces of normalcy and self-control.
Once I started to feel somewhat human again I was able to open my eyes and see that, yes-indeedy, she was a bit purplish (the nurse said she must have smooshed her face on the way out or something like that) but she seemed pretty cute. And then the doctor uttered the most hateful words I had ever heard, “time to push again!”
I knew I wasn’t having twins. Push what for?
Oh, the placenta. “But I never pushed any of the other times!” I wailed, certain that I would never push anything out of my body again as long as I lived. “Oh, you did, but you had an epidural so it wasn’t much of a production,” he cheerfully replied. I think it was it this point that I started sobbing hysterically.
The placenta came out and I lived to tell the tale. It was still half an hour or so until I felt stable enough to hold the baby, though.
I’d heard that women who don’t have epidurals recover faster and can get up and move around quicker. Again, lies. I guess we epidural-free mothers don’t have to wait for the medicine to wear off, but I was in no mood to do anything put keep ice packs down there for hours. Where exactly was I supposed to be in a hurry to go anyway? A stroll down to the gift shop? When you’re sporting mesh panties and a maxi pad the size of a life raft, your choice of activities is still quite limited. But you never really think these things through when other moms are pushing their pain-filled agendas down your throat. You just nod along, certain that you’ll get some trophy from the Outstanding Mother Awards Committee for going though the whole thing with no pain relief.*
All in all Ada and I bounced back from the whole ordeal. But you know what happened when I was in the hospital sixteen months later giving birth to baby Jasper? Yep, I got the epidural and it was magnificent.
*Turns out there are no trophies handed out for giving birth without drugs. So why would anybody do it? Peer pressure and bragging rights, is all I can think. Because doing something without pain is way better than doing the same thing with pain.
Either way, we love this girl and are happy that she came to join our family, despite causing so much pain on the way out.