My son just celebrated his second birthday last week. As we were driving home from his birthday celebration, I looked at the clock and realized it was 7:51pm. The moment he arrived in this world. I remembered the relief I felt when he was finally here.
I also remember the 29 hours before.
I can tell you that no matter how many books you read or how many friends you talk to, nothing can prepare you for labor and delivery.
Sure, everyone’s birth experience is different. Some do it with ease and some do it and pray they never have to do it again…. at least for a few more years.
Here are things I wish I knew about Labor and Delivery.
1) No birth plan 100%.
You may have your entire labor and delivery experience mapped out but when it comes down to it, babies come early, babies come late, babies come when they want to. They start dictating your every move right from the first contraction.
2) Your doctor might be on vacation.
(See #1). He might be the best OBGYN on the planet but he’s not Superman. He needs a break too. You might end up with the doctor on staff. A doctor who can’t even say your last name correctly.
Your bodies natural response to pain. Nobody told me about the vomiting. It evidently means labor is progressing on schedule. UGH!
4) Epidural failures.
Nobody is perfect but you sure hope your anesthesiologist is. An epidural that is not administered properly does not offer pain relief or the numbing effect you are desiring. It may even cause a burning sensation. You may have opted out of a natural childbirth but guess what? You’re doing it. Get ready. Ouch!
5) Back labor.
You mean there is a difference? Yes, sister. There is. Think those contractions are bad? When your child decides to come out face up instead of face down, you my dear, are in back labor. His cute little noggin presses on your spine causing the most excruciating pain you may ever experience in your life.
6) It’s nothing like the movies.
Generally, babies just don’t come out on the first few pushes. You might push for 3-4 hours. Hard. You will be exhausted, crying, begging for it to end, you may even work hard for numerous hours and still be forced to have an emergency C-section.
7) Poop, tears, students, and items of intervention.
You will poop yourself. Multiple, multiple times. Mostly during, sometimes before. You will feel like you have to take the biggest poop of your life.
You probably will tear from your vagina to your rectum.
You may not be able to push your baby out on your own. The doctor might reach into your body, elbow deep, to turn your baby into position. Suction may be involved. And your baby’s head will be shaped like a cone (it goes away eventually, don’t worry).
And there may be students. Strangers. Men. All. Up. In. Your. Business.
8) There will be a urinary catheter placed in your pee hole.
9) There is a point where pushing burns like a mother.
This is called The Burning Ring of Fire. Basically the point where you are trying to push your child’s shoulders out of your body. You’re not dying but you think you are. However, the last push is the most exhilarating feeling in the world.
Until you do it again to pass the placenta.
10) You might not get to hold your baby.
Again, it is nothing like the movies. Sometimes babies are early. They need immediate medical intervention. Sometimes you are in danger and need immediate medical intervention. Sometimes you have a C-section and need to recover.
They say this can be caused by the immediate hormonal shift and endorphins released immediately after delivery. It also can be a reaction to the epidural or anesthetic. Either way, you will shake uncontrollably.
13) Swollen vagina.
Holy swelling Batman. Your vag is no longer the vag you knew. It will be as big as a cantaloupe. Embrace the ice packs and frozen diapers. And don’t ever take a mirror to it.
14) The blood and uterus massages.
You will bleed. A LOT after. For like forever. Okay, like weeks. You will. Stock up on super absorbent pads and TAKE whatever is left from your hospital stay. The mesh panties they offer you are not a fashion statement. They are your best friend and so is their sister the super duper pad.
The nurses will try to help milk that nasty out of you by coming in and massaging your abdomen, pushing on your uterus. Yeah, just what you wanted to hear right?
You will never, ever, ever, poop the same again. The first time you try after childbirth will stop you dead in you tracks. It is plain awful. This will continue for sometime postpartum. Please try. Constipation and recovery do not mix.
And there you have it. Labor and delivery at its finest. 15 things I wish I would have know. 15 things the What to Expect book didn’t tell me. 15 things that brought my beautiful son into this world. 15 things I will never forget but would gladly (well, not really gladly) do over again.
Whether you delivered naturally or by C-section, you never really forget. Although your body forgives, it will never be the same again.
We all wish we knew that.
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