At the tail end of my pregnancy when I was home all day, I’d watch “A Baby Story,” “Bringing Home Baby,” and “16 and Pregnant,” to try to get a feel for what labor and the first few days home with a baby would be like. I watched all that television for nothing. My birth experience was nothing like what I’d seen on TV. What I came to realize is that every woman’s labor is different and unique. Even if she’s given birth before, the experience will be completely different.
I had a fairly easy pregnancy. I never threw up, I only gained weight in my belly and a tiny bit in my face, and I had that “pregnancy glow.” My hair grew, my nails grew, and my feet stayed the same. My only real issues were gestational diabetes, lack of weight gain, and the fact that my son wasn’t growing as rapidly as my obstetricians would have liked.
I remember being snappy that week. Anyone could get it. My mother, my husband, my brother. People on TV, people on the street, plain old innocent bystanders. I had done a lot that weekend. My mother and I went to the mall for Moms Night Out on Thursday. I walked a lot on Friday (can’t remember where I went that day). I did something I probably had no business doing on Saturday, but can’t recall it now. The hubs and I drove to Philly and back to pick up his wedding ring on Sunday. We went to visit his grandmother in the Bronx right after that.
I had a routine appointment that Monday (May 9th). I was annoyed because here was another non-stress test to stress me. I got hooked up to the machine, aggravated that I had to hold my thumb down over the monitor. This is supposed to be the best hospital in Brooklyn, can’t they afford a machine that I don’t have to hold? They told me I was having contractions again. I’d been having contractions since the week before and never felt anything, so I didn’t see what the big deal was.I sat back in the waiting room and waited to see the diabetes counselor. I took a while, and I was getting even more annoyed, so I ignored the waiting room and just headed into her office…she claimed she was just coming out to get me. She reviewed my sugar levels, and wrote me a new prescription for a medicine that would keep my levels low, but give me more of an appetite. She looked at the non-stress test printout, and then told me that the baby’s heart rate kept dipping and then taking a while to come back up, so they wanted to monitor me. She said I’d have to go to the hospital for an hour or so, and that I should eat before I went. Instead of being concerned, I told her, “They want to monitor me? Today? No, I’m not doing that today. I’ve been here since 11am, it’s now 2:00. I have things to do today.” I was supposed to meet my mother in law and husband in Queens to pick out his bedding. The baby had other plans.
My mother and I walked to the hospital, as it was only 2 or so blocks away. She kept asking if I felt anything. Nope, I was fine. Just tired of walking. We got to the hospital and called my husband. I was hooked up to another monitor for a while. Every time I wanted to use the bathroom, I had to unplug the monitor and take the cords with me. Ew. After what seemed like forever, the nurse told me the baby was okay and that I’d probably be sent home…they just wanted to check my cervix first. “Mrs. G, your’e four centimeters dilated. We have to admit you.” I started to cry. I was scared. I was supposed to have another month! I hate hospitals. I don’t have anything packed! My husband had to come hold my face and calm me down. He told me everything would be okay, and not to worry about a carseat, or the baby’s room being unfinished.
We headed up to my room. My doula (and sorority sister) arrived. I was hooked up to another machine, and after much protest, an IV. I HATE needles. Big, small, whatever…get them away from me. My veins are tiny, and unless you’re experienced and extremely patient, it’s going to be difficult. I’ll give you 2 tries to get me, and them I’m crying. Again, each time I went to the bathroom, I had to unplug the cords–only now, I had to lug an IV with me. I laid in bed, still not really feeling contractions too badly. My main doctor came in to examine me. I told him his fingers were too big. He laughed and told me I was now 5 centimeters.
We sat patiently waiting for the baby to arrive…and then fell asleep. I woke up around 3am to the sound of my husband snoring. I know I looked at him crazy, and then went back to sleep. Later, my best friend arrived from Philly. We watched “Maury” and I told my husband “you ARE the father.” The day dragged on. My main doctor came back. He either had to move forward with labor by giving me Pitocin, or stop the labor with some other drug. I told him we’d wait and see what happened. My best friend went to buy some clothes for the baby. My husband went to get some food. We watched “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.” My secondary doctor came in to examine me (her fingers were much smaller). I think I was around 7 centimeters now.
I started feeling contractions. Thankfully, I had learned to breathe through the pain in our childbirth class. Each contraction was like a wave. I breathed the way I was taught and visualized myself on a beach in St. Lucia, dancing on the sand and holding my son. My husband kept me calm, asking, “Babe, where are we? What does the beach feel like? Can you see the water?” Eventually, I was 9.5 centimeters. No epidural–like I said, I HATE needles. I’ll take the contractions over that huge needle any day.
The secondary doctor came in to break my water. It felt like I had wet myself. She said it was time to push. My husband grabbed one leg, my mother grabbed the other. My best friend held my hand. I told them to leave the TV on. I pushed, and it was strange. I pushed, and they said, “I see his head!” I pushed, and I felt like something was hanging out. i pushed, and my son came into the world.