Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Truth About Childbirth

DISCLAIMER: If you are expecting, or plan to be in the near future, do yourself a favour and DO NOT read this!

You know how your mom, upon finding dirty underwear (or worse) in your dresser drawer, would rant about "18 hours of labour and THIS is how you thank me!?" Well that's what I plan to do here today. I am in a mood so vile that it is time to write about what it is really like to give birth. None of that "miracle" stuff. None of that "you forget all about the pain" bull. I remember dammit!

For all of you men out there, I promise to spare you the gory, anatomical details.

When I was pregnant with Joey (now 4), I remember taking childbirth classes, yoga, aquafit, etc, in preparation for the 'big day'. Everytime I talked about the actual birthing, I would smile and pretend I was concerned, the whole time thinking: "how bad could it be, really?" In retrospect, it was like thinking:

"How much trouble could my husband's '82 Pontiac Phoenix be, really?"

"How much could the repair bill be, really?"

"How scary could this Freddie Krueger guy be, really?"

The answer, of course, is always ONE BAJILLION times worse than you could ever imagine in the confines of your tiny little brain! On the morning of my due date, I joked with my sister that I was in labour. An hour later, I wasn't joking. At the hospital, my mother-in-law, laughing giddlily, ran up to me and grabbed at my stomach with both hands during a contraction. I jumped back three feet, grew horns and waved my pitchfork at her while shreiking in a voice that was not my own: "IT'S NOT FUCKING FUNNY AND DON'T FUCKING TOUCH ME AGAIN!" The nuns in the hallway all crossed themselves.

When I am in pain, leave me alone. I am a wounded wolf in a dark cave - very dangerous - do not disturb. That was until the epidural guy came. When he arrived, he was a tiny, crazy-looking little man, about 30 years my senior with a sweaty countenance that rivaled Darth Vader, sans mask. When he left, I was in love. I think I proposed. All I know is that when the pain stopped I was as high as a kite. The world was wonderful again.

Until they shut off my meds to push. I remember telling people that labour was like having your feet hacked off at the ankles slooowly over 16 hours, and then pushing was like them asking you to run a marathon on the stumps. Yes I know, that's gross. And what a mess!

But that moment came when I realized that it was only up to me, no one could do this for me, and that if I summoned all my strength and pushed with all my might, I would (hopefully) die. The nurses tried to encourage me by shouting that in a few moments I was going to have the beautiful sweet baby of my dreams in my only coherent thought was "Who cares!? I'm gonna die! Sweet blissful death! Yippee!!!"

Four minutes before midnight on his due date, my son was born. They put him on my chest and he was as slippery as Vaseline, so I circled his tiny ankle with my thumb & index finger, just in case. My husband was crying. My mom was sobbing. The nurses were cheering. Sadly, I was a little shell-shocked. Yes, childbirth was like the first 20 mins. of "Saving Private Ryan". I still hear the mortar rounds and the screaming.

But I guess it also commanded my spirit to reach beyond what it ever had before. I see myself as just another soldier in the march of the human race. Another woman, following the path of millions of incredible women before me, against all odds, against all hope, against tides of fear and despair. And I still tell my mother-in-law, when we look back at that crazy day, that it was NOT funny.

But it was okay.


At 7:59 PM , Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I think I heard you in the next room!!!

I was very quiet when it came to childbirth EXCEPT for the pregnancy when I was only 16...nobody told me there would be pain & I too thought I was dying.

At 9:22 PM , Blogger Kimberly said...

wow...I don't know what else to say. Except that I admire you more now than I did before.

At 9:47 PM , Blogger Magdalena said...

I think that we can all agree here though, that in reality your birthing experience was additionally stressful because your MIL has a tendency to act without thinking ... and had obviously forgotten what it was like to be going through labour and having old ladies grab at her belly ... she was just so excited to be getting her first grandchild that thinking evaded her.

I am with Kim though, totally admire you even more than ever! Still want to be a mom though and am willing to subject myself to the tortures of childbirth. (Talk to me again after I have my first child though :P )

At 12:45 AM , Blogger Motherkitty said...

Isn't it amazing that women can sometimes forget their children's names, their telephone numbers, or their husband's favorite foods, but will NEVER, EVER forget what it feels like to be in labor and delivery!

Thirty-six years after giving birth to my son, I can tell you what it felt like, where I hurt, how long it took, and who my roommate in L&D was. In fact, you will probably remember every detail your entire life.

So, when your mother brings up the 18 hours she was in labor giving birth to you, it is because it was a labor of love. You, of course, will do the same to your children. It's in the childbirth DNA that all mothers carry.

At 1:42 PM , Blogger Christopher said...

Hehe, the part about the nuns crossing themselves was so funny! Kinda reminds me of the movie, "Nuns On The Run". (Male bank robbers on the lam disguise themselves as nuns in order to hide out in a monastery.)

There's one part of the movie where they have to cross themselves, and one of them is struggling to remember, chanting to himself, "Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch." haha.

I can never imagine what childbirth could be like, but a nurse once told me that her kidney stones had hurt nearly as bad as childbirth. I have had 2 such kidney stones in my lifetime, and if childbirth hurts even HALF as bad as a kidney stone, then you have my complete sympathy. I remember the pain quite well. I was cursing at my dad on the trip to the hospital, telling him to "RUN THE F---ING RED LIGHTS, DUMBASS!" etc. I was holding onto the little grip above the inside car door (which some people refer to as the "oh sh-t handle") and pulling on it so hard that I could feel it trying to come completely off, haha. Ah, fond memories :)

At 2:20 PM , Blogger MacManus said...

"childbirth was like the first 20 mins. of Saving Private Ryan"

Oh dear god...I'm so glad I'm a male

The closest comparison I have ever seen to childbirth was a female nurse removing a urinary catheter from a guy...without deflating the 25 cent sized was like watching total recall when he takes the locator becon outta his nose...look like a grand old time!

At 5:02 PM , Blogger Binsk said...

I didn't read it because I was scared that it may actually make me freak out if I ever have one.

Thanks for the warning.


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