4.14.16 is the day I changed. You probably knew it would happen, but somehow, I did not believe it myself. On that day a little over 3 weeks ago, I became a mom. Lily Anna was born at 1:25AM after a long 20 hours of labor. She weighed 8 pounds and 9.6 ounces and measured 20.25 inches long. It was surreal and exhausting and incredible and intense and beautiful. This is the I HAD A BABY post.
When I arrived at the hospital the day before, the first thing I heard was a woman down the hall screaming, likely at the climax of her own delivery. I turned to my husband and whispered, “I’m scared.” The doctor had advised us to head to the hospital based on some early contractions and what may or may not have been *the water breaking!* It was nothing like what I’d Googled the weeks prior. Moms-to-be… stop Googling things. It’s pointless. I was sure they’d send me home for showing up too early and was in fact planning on it. It had been a few days since I’d slept through the night and was exhausted. Turns out, my amniotic fluid was extremely low, and they decided to admit me. I was going to have a baby. The days of wishing and hoping for labor disappeared and my biggest concern was that I never got to have breakfast. I was HUNGRY. Clearly, I was also desperately grasping for reasons not to end up like that woman at the end of the hallway. I didn’t feel ready to take on the physical task at hand. I didn’t feel ready to have a newborn. I didn’t feel ready suddenly to be someone’s mother. I also was VERY against the idea of having a baby on the 13th, because I’m nuts.
Once I got settled in my room, I still could not accept that this was the day. I think we could call this a panic attack. The nurse showed up with the dreaded Pitocin drip, and I decided I did not want this unnatural start to my labor. Why were we doing this? Was it essential? Should I be worried about my baby? Don’t people usually endure this stage of labor from the comfort of their own home? I want my bed! I want to eat a piece of pizza. The nursery isn’t completely finished yet. I planned on hours of massage from my husband before this. I planned on being mentally and physically ready. So needless to say, my hesitation annoyed the hospital staff. I demanded to talk to my doctor because I felt like no one was giving me a straight answer. She showed up and talked me into it. Okay. Fine. I’m here already. Let’s have a baby. (PS the things I blame for this include eggplant parmesan and rolling around on an exercise ball the night before.)
I’m proud to report I lived through about 7 hours of Pitocin-fueled contractions before I couldn’t take it anymore and asked for the epidural. Even then, I felt like I was giving up too soon. The expectations women put upon themselves are silly. The epidural saved my life. How do people NOT get the epidural? If you did not get an epidural, you are my hero forever; you are the stuff legends are made of. Getting the epidural hurt. They tell you not to move an INCH or breathe too much or give in to the horrible contractions going on as the anesthesiologist messes with your spine. The nurse held my hand while the student nurse looked on. We talked about cars because I work for an automotive company. I think I still managed to crack some jokes about how shitty General Motors is. I stayed true to myself. The post-epidural labor experience is a different one. It’s somewhat comfortable. You can’t feel what the contraction monitors are showing. You feel like you’re cheating a little. The nurse comes in to check on you every 3o minutes and move your body around in strange shapes. None of it bothers you. I love epidurals. I watched Lethal Weapon, Ellen, and Nashville on my epidural.
Around 11:30pm, my back started to HURT. Um, why was I feeling this? I signed up for the first world labor experience. It turns out, even after an epidural, you have to feel everything at the end. You can’t cheat completely. I really thought I was getting off scot-free. After that point, the real business started. It was hard. There was a period of time where the baby’s heart rate declined during each contraction so we had to slow things down and go on oxygen. It was scary.
Things I learned in the last hours:
- No one will tell you when it’s a good idea to push. They say things like, “Do you feel like you need to?” UM I DON’T KNOW. I DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO BE HERE TODAY.
- About 13 strangers and your mom and your spouse will watch all of this go down. Nothing is sacred anymore.
- The doctor (not YOUR doctor- never did hear from her) will show up at the last possible minute and crack jokes to keep everyone in a “good mood.”
- You might throw up. Sorry.
- Several people will tell you that this push is “the one” and you believe them because you’re desperate. They are wrong every time but one.
- The moment when they hand you your baby is both hazy and unforgettable. You may get pooped on, but you really don’t care.
Seeing Lily for the first time was incredible and emotional. Truthfully, the full magnitude of emotions didn’t hit me until the next day. I did get to see my mom and husband cry tears of joy and hold my daughter close to me. You jump right in and do things you didn’t know you could do, and then all of a sudden, you are a mom.
Today is Mother’s Day and I am in the club. I get to celebrate becoming a mom and everything it means to have a beautiful baby girl. I feel so grateful and still amazed that this happened to me. I have so much to learn, and have learned so much already.
The days and weeks that followed giving birth have been some of the most amazing and challenging of my life. I didn’t realize the need I would feel to share these truths with you, which brings me to my next chapter…