The Real Talk: Childbirth
So here’s the post I’ve been trying to write all along; what really happens in the delivery room?
Well, here it is—my childbirth experience.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 6, 2017
I woke up that morning feeling pretty uncomfortable and miserable. Just like I had every morning for the past couple weeks. I had planned for my last day of work to be the day prior, but then agreed to come in again on Monday, October 9 and finish on Wednesday, October 11 (we needed the moolah, people).
I left the house and went to the bank to deposit my last paycheck. I stopped at the Walgreen’s on the corner of 13 Mile and Ryan for a peanut butter Cliff Bar and some chocolate milk.
At this point I was seeing my OB office once a week, getting checked at each appointment. I had been having irregular contractions and false labor symptoms for a couple weeks. I went in for my 38 week 6 day checkup at 10:30 a.m. that day.
”Well your cervix is effacing (getting thinner) and you’re dilated 2 centimeters. But nothing has moved forward, so it could be a little while still.”
Is there anything I can do?
”You’ll be 39 weeks tomorrow, right? Just be patient. You’re just at full term and in no danger, so we’ll let the baby come when she wants.”
I left that office determined to have my baby within the next week.
I went home, changed out of my wet-ish sweatshirt and undies (from the jelly they use to hear baby‘s heartbeat and jam their fingers up your hoo-ha) into something more presentable, then ventured to the store—on a mission to pick up as many home remedy, natural labor kick starters I could find.
I picked up some herbal supplements, some spicy chips, and a box of raspberry leaf tea at the local Kroger. I also decided to purchase a Schik Intiution razor and some deodorant for my hospital bag that I planned to pack the next day.
Upon arriving home that afternoon, I attempted to clean up some of the house, but ended up watching Chopped and drinking three or four cups of the raspberry leaf tea I had purchased. It did not taste very good at all.
Six hours later, I started to have some contractions. Nothing too bad, seemed about the same as the irregular ones I’d had before. Around 10 p.m. I realized that they were consistent and getting stronger.
I started writing them down. Time, distance between, duration.
I don’t recall where Michael was, but I called him and told him I thought I was in labor. I remember telling him not to rush because I wanted to wait as long as possible before going to the hospital.
He came home within minutes, and began assembling the bassinet and installing the car seat (yes, we were those people).
As Michael started packing our bags, I decided to take this opportunity to shower and shave my legs. Because, ya know, priorities. I was gripping to the bar on the side of our shower for dear life every few minutes through the contractions.
They were coming fast and strong, 2 or 3 minutes apart, lasting about a minute each. I called the OB office.
It was time to go.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 7, 2017
Around 1 a.m. we went to the hospital to get checked (yay, more fingers up my hooha). Beaumont Royal Oak Hospital is about 15 minutes away from our house, but it felt like hours.
Beaumont was pretty big, but luckily I had looked up where to go on their website when I scheduled my birth center tour—which, ironically, was supposed to be later that afternoon. After parking, Michael grabbed our bags, and I waddled very slowly up to the third floor.
Upon arriving, we had to fill out some paper work and answer some questions. Some hospitals do preregistration, but ours did not.
So they took me back, and a nurse checked me.
”You’re at 2 centimeters still, honey. It’s possible this could still be false labor.”
”You can stay here and try to walk around for a couple hours and kick start your labor, or we can administer an Ambien and send you home to get some rest.”
So I took the Ambien and we went back home.
As soon as we got home and I made it in the door I ran to the bathroom and threw up the Ambien I had just taken, then proceeded to dry heave and cry hysterically for about five minutes.
I tried to lay down and get some rest, but I couldn’t sleep through those contractions. After about an hour and half of lying in bed, I needed to pee. I went to roll out of the bed and as I stood up...
My water broke.
That sensation is one of the weirdest feelings I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. And there’s no great way to describe it other than you feel like someone popped a water balloon in your vagina and now you’re peeing your pants.
So, back to the hospital we went.
And guess what? When we got back to the birthing center we had to fill out the paper work. All. Over. Again.
Once again, I am escorted behind the counter to get checked. It was 5 a.m. Some other nurse is checking my vajayjay. Before you know it, I’m laboring in the delivery room.
Upon arriving at our room, I’m immediately hooked up to an IV, heart monitor, and fetal monitor (which looks like a giant, ugly belt with a hard plastic belt buckle). It was all pretty surreal. The pain was pretty intense already, and I had been in active labor for about 7 hours already.
”Are you going to want an epidural?”
Not just yet, I’d really like to hold off as long as possible. If I don’t need it, I don’t want it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those super strong, all-natural birth moms, but if I didn’t have to get a lot of medication, then I didn’t want it. I had already decided to get a mild pain medication to dull the labor pains.
A few hours went by and nothing had really changed. Still not dilated a whole lot, still could be a while. The pain was starting to get worse and Michael was starting to squirm; he’ll tell you that birth for the father is also painful—you are a useless being just sitting there, watching the woman you love the most go through agonizing torture (but he was NOT useless—he was a champ).
So after some questioning, a little fighting, and much convincing, I decided to get the epidural. I did NOT want to labor for 18-24 hours like this!
After giving the go ahead, a man came in the room with one of the longest needles I’d ever seen.
“Okay, So I’m going to stick this super long, scary needle in your back and when I do I need you not to flinch or move or breathe. Okay?”
All right, so that’s not what he really said, but quite honestly all I remember was sitting on the bed with a rubber peanut ball thing between my legs, squeezing my nurse’s hand on my left and Michael’s hand on my right.
He stuck me. I flinched. Hard. Then I started bawling because I was so embarrassed by the whole thing.
By the way, catheters kind of hurt a little.
Yeah, didn’t really think about that before hand either.
About 30 minutes later, I knew he had stuck me on my right side, because my right leg was completely numb, and my left still had a little feeling. And that little rubber peanut yoga ball thing became my new intimate buddy, tucked between my legs for the next 5 hours.
Finally, a nurse came to check me around 4:45 pm. I was 10 centimeters dilated and this little girl was getting ready to blow this popsicle stand.
They turned down the amount of medicine I was getting and my epidural was starting to wear off.
“I know it hurts, but we want to wait to start pushing until you just can’t take it anymore.”
It sounded crazy, but trust me, you just know when it’s time to push.
My greatest revelation from my whole childbirth experience; giving birth kind of sort of just feels like the most painful bowel movement of your whole life.
Yepp, that’s right. They basically tell you to push every time you feel like you need to “poop.”
Contraction. Deep breath. Push!
Contraction. Deep breath. Push!
Contraction. Deep breath. Push!
I was screaming and yelling so loud and so hard I think I popped a blood vessel.
They brought out what I can only describe as a pull-up bar for my feet; the doctor told me to put my feet on it, grab the handles and pull as I pushed. It felt like the most aggressive poop and grueling workout all at the same time.
The little audience gathered around at my posterior kept reassuring me that they could see her head and that she had a beautiful head of hair. Over and over and over again I heard a chorus of:
“One more time!”
”One more good push.”
”You can do it.”
”We see the head!”
”Aww she has a beautiful head of hair.”
I now laugh every time someone comments on her full head of hair.
I only had to push for 30 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. And yes, I had a second degree tear with stitches. But Michael still swears up and down I didn’t poop on the table (but I’m not convinced).
With Michael holding my left leg and some EMT guy named Chris holding my right leg...
There she was.
And let me tell you, no words can describe what it felt like to hold Izabella on my chest for the first time. But Michael said my face was priceless. Although, I do remember my first thought.
Oh good, she’s not ugly.
C’mon now. Be honest; we all have a fear that our children will be ugly. I know, I know, all babies are beautiful, but let’s be real now. Some babies are that weird, creepy, tiny-old-man-ugly kinda cute, and we all know it.
That babe, so small, innocent, and precious, my merciful gift from Almighty God.
For all I deserve is death and eternal punishment, yet time and time again, the Lord showers me with blessings of grace and mercy.
Izabella Miranda Mercy Howard was born at 5:33 p.m., 6lbs. 15oz., 19.5 in, on Saturday, October 7, 2017.