People say you forget about the pain of labor, or else you wouldn’t ever have more than one child.
I certainly didn’t forget. Maybe I didn’t remember the exact type of pain, but I sure remembered that it hurt. A lot. And not just during labor, but after. For some reason, none of the books or blogs or classes I read or took during my first pregnancy mentioned anything about postpartum recovery. Perhaps they reasoned ignorance is bliss. Expectant mothers: You’re in for a surprise! But I won’t ruin it for you…
Anyway, armed with the knowledge of just how much pain was coming my way, I started to freak out a bit. Especially because I know many women who are really into natural childbirth, and therefore I felt like I should be really into natural childbirth. Hey – I’m just as badass as they are! If they can do childbirth without pain medication, so can I! But the prospect was still scary.
As I approached my due date, my doctor insisted I would deliver early.* She was wrong, but at the time her predictions forced me to face reality. Labor was coming. Pain was coming. So I psyched myself up. I’m active! I’m strong! I do yoga and know how to breathe! I can do this! (Plus, I have no choice.) I even got kind of zen about the whole thing. Childbirth has nothing on me!
And then labor actually happened. If you read my last blog post, you know that I spent the 36 hours before labor running around Orange County visiting various doctors, and went into labor late Thursday night. It was a restless two days, followed by a restless night of contractions. Point is, when I did go into labor I was tired. And a little stressed out. All of a sudden I wasn’t so badass.
At first, I just kept moving through the contractions. Hey, this isn’t so bad! I thought to myself. I can totally handle this. And then the contractions started coming faster. Like, a lot faster. Wait, hold up. I was not ready for that. I mean, I knew I wanted labor to be quick (Elisabeth was 21 hours) but not too quick. I wanted there to be enough time to get the epidural should I choose to go that route.
It was not long before I chose to go that route.
After about an hour of contractions I couldn’t ignore how close together they were coming, or how much stronger they were. I went into my mom’s room. “Mom, just so you know I’m in labor and we’ll need to leave soon.” I was really hoping to get in a shower, blow-dry my hair, and put some make-up on.** But I soon returned to her room. “Actually, we need to leave now.” And actually, I wanted that epidural, like, immediately. Forget breathing. Breathing is for the birds. I wanted drugs.
After the longest drive in the history of man (about 15 minutes) we arrived at the hospital around 2:30 AM. There were a lot of babies being born that night, so I had to wait an eternity (about 20 minutes) before I could go to triage. I was in a race against time – I knew that baby was coming soon, and I worried I wouldn’t have enough time to get the epidural. I am not woman enough for natural childbirth S***!
The nurse that examined me announced that I was already 8 cm. “You’re not going to need the epidural,” she stated.
What does she know?! Is she the one in labor?! I had some very unpleasant words for her, but kept them to myself.
“Um, can I still have it?” I asked meekly. “I mean, if it’s not too late or anything…”
“Yes, of course!” another nurse said cheerily. I liked that nurse a lot better.
They wheeled me up to my labor and delivery room while I tried to control my body’s uncontrollable shaking. Shaking? I don’t remember the shaking. Must stop the shaking.
“Your breathing is great!” the nurse complemented, once I was in my room.
ENOUGH WITH THE BREATHING! WHERE’S THE DAMN ANESTHESIOLOGIST?
Eventually (about 10 minutes later) the anesthesiologist showed up and injected that blessed needled into my back. Oh sweet relief! I dozed for a bit, woke up, pushed for a few minutes, and had a baby. Done and done. It was 5:something AM. (Yes, I’ve already forgotten. I’m just that tired, okay? I have it written down somewhere, I promise…) The baby was 8lbs 3oz and perfect.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, Damon was able to Skype in to the delivery. (Damon did fly to CA for a few days in hopes of making the birth, but unfortunately the baby didn’t arrive before Damon had to return to Japan for his deployment.) I’m not going to pretend that having an iPad with a floating head passed around the room while you’re trying to have a baby isn’t kind of awkward, but it was great that Damon could be there in some capacity.
We hemmed and hawed all day over what to name the kid. It’s family tradition to use “Damon” as the first name, but we could just not decide on the middle name, by which the baby would be called. Eventually we settled on James.
And here he is, sweet baby James, a few hours after birth.
And he really is very sweet, my little cuddle bug. He requires that someone hold him at all times (another reason why I am not blogging frequently – I have no free hands), but when he nuzzles his little head into my chest I know it’s just because he loves me. Five weeks old and already a mama’s boy. Yes! (Although, I wouldn’t mind if he let me put him down every now and then, you know, so I can sleep and pee and stuff.)
At the risk of sounding cliché, the past five weeks have flown by. James is growing crazy fast (he gained over four pounds in his first month), and he no longer looks or feels like a newborn. Makes me a little sad, really. But exciting things are ahead for our family as he continues to grow – and I continue to master parenting two kids instead of one***- and I look forward to sharing it with you!
*Note to doctors: Please don’t ever make predictions about your patient’s due date. Once you do so, your patient (or rather, her baby) will inevitably be late. You will have instilled false hope into a tired, anxious, hormonal woman who wants nothing more than to not be pregnant anymore. Spare her the disappointment of going to 40+ weeks. Please keep your professional opinion to yourself.
**This may sound vain, but I totally believe in doing your hair and makeup before labor. Those pictures are going to be put up on Facebook by your husband without your knowledge, so you might as well attempt to look decent. Plus, you’re not going to have the chance to blow-dry your hair (or even wash it) for a very long time once the baby is born. Just thinking ahead, folks!
***”Master.” Ha. More like, “Try to not completely screw up.”