I expected childbirth to be a lot more like a Lady Gaga concert than it was. I was prepared for wardrobe changes, hair and make up, a crowd of people cheering and just a little blood and guts somewhere at the end.
In my birth plan, I had bulletins dedicated to what I would wear (which I had planned to be a long cotton birthing gown from Target), the make up I would pack (which I had planned to be an entire case full that I would reapply at certain stages for pictures), and who would be in the room at certain intervals (which I had planned to be basically everyone.)
If you think this makes me extra vain, it’s only because I haven’t told you the rest of my birth plan. The narcissistic section only took up but a small portion of my five-page plan, which changed almost everyday with the more I learned. I made copies, had a filing system…in fact, the only thing that kept me from laminating the damn thing was that doing so would prevent me from making edits with my red pen whenever I felt the need.
However, when the time came, I didn’t even bring it to the hospital.
Some people will tell you that first time Moms always give birth after their due date. This is not so. My due date was July 6th, 2013.
On June 11th, 2013, I had my 36-week check-up at 9:00 am. At 6:00am that morning, I knew I was going to give birth later. I woke up with contractions and I immediately told my family that she was preparing for her arrival.
No one believed me. Even after my check-up, where my midwife LeeAnne told me I was already four centimeters dilated, my family continued to make plans for the following days.
“I’m going to have this baby tonight,” I kept saying.
I went from four centimeters to six centimeters at the hair salon. Doctors consider this active labor; I considered it a perfect time to gossip with the ladies from Fredericksburg.
Don’t get me wrong; I was in a great deal of pain. The pain only got worse after a hippie stranger who had overheard that I was basically giving birth in my chair came over and started to rub my ankles.
“This part of your foot is connected to your uterus,” she graciously explained. And although I rolled my eyes, I ended up in the hospital two hours later.
7:00pm: Some people will tell you that your water breaks like a balloon. This is not always so. My water broke slowly down my leg as I stood in triage at the hospital. To gage the amount of pain I was in, I will tell you this: I was still planning on changing into my Target gown.
Now, labor is extremely painful. In fact, they haven’t yet come up with a word for how painful it is. But, it isn’t just the contractions. In fact, one of the worst parts of labor is when the staff has to determine how dilated your cervix is. The first and only time I let this happen was in triage, when the nurse broke the rest of my water and told me I was six centimeters.
I never brought up the stupid Target gown again.
Some people like to tell every gross, painful detail of their labor. This is not so for me. You get the idea, right? For six and a half hours, my body became completely foreign to me and did what it had to do to get a full-grown baby out of a very, very, very small space. (There’s that vanity again.)
I used a midwife because I wanted an all natural childbirth. Some people will tell you that it can’t be done at a hospital. This is not so. LeeAnne was my soldier. She arrived to the hospital moments after I did, told the nurse I didn’t want an IV, an epidural or even the mention of one. LeeAnne forced me out of bed when all I wanted to do was lay there. She made me walk around, bounce on a ball, sit in the shower, contract standing up; all to get Oakley out as quickly and safely as possible and it worked.
Suddenly, I had to poop and I wanted everyone to know it.
“I have to poop!” I yelled, in tears.
“No you don’t,” LeeAnne told me as she slipped on long clear gloves that resembled the gloves farmers wear when they stick their arm up their cow’s ass. This did nothing to reassure me.
“No for real,” I said, “I’m going to poop.”
“Nope,” her confidence was almost annoying. “You’re going to give birth.”
I did not have an epidural, which meant a few things: every contraction I felt to the fullest, which takes a lot of energy. So, although six hours is nothing in the labor world, I was exhausted to a point I couldn’t imagine when it came time to actually put in work. This meant that I pushed for forty minutes, instead of the seven that was promised to me in the beginning.
Some people tell you that everyone actually does poop when giving birth. This, ladies rejoice, is not always so. LeeAnne happened to be right (which she always was, that bitch.) I peed, I sprayed my nurse with amniotic fluid, I screamed at people, I cried, I puked, and I even fell asleep a few times.
But, by God, I didn’t poop.
After an extremely sharp pain in my lady region, I heard LeeAnne’s sweet voice say, “Reach down and pull your baby out.”
So, I did. I grabbed that slimy little baby and pulled her onto my chest. She barely cried, in fact she just sort of squeaked which was good enough for LeeAnne to consider her a healthy baby.
Some people will tell you that the first time you meet your baby is the most incredible moment of a woman’s life. And that is so very much so.
I wore a hospital gown the entire time, never once opened that make up bag and when the room got just a little too loud, I kicked everyone out. So, it turns out labor isn’t so glamorous. Contrary to what they show in the movies, you actually look like hell when it’s all over and when your baby comes out, she is squishy and wrinkly, not four months old and laughing.
But always remember this: it isn’t glamorous for anyone. When I look back on the birth of my daughter, it looks like a montage of scenes from The Shining and Tosh.0 clips. I never wanted to see anyone who worked in that hospital again, because I was sure they would see me and think, “Ew, that’s that chick who had the chaotic and disturbing birthing experience.”
Instead, I saw my midwife’s mentor, who had been sitting in the corner of the delivery room taking it all in, six weeks later for a check-up. At one point she looked at me and asked, “did you have to get stitches? I can’t remember.”
To them, we’re all just one big, hectic mess. So, I guess it is kind of like a Lady Gaga concert after all.