Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Labor and delivery, some after birth (but not placenta)

So anyone who tells you there is something romantic about natural childbirth is a dirty liar.  Just want to preface that right away, get it out in the open.  Now that's out of the way, I can try to describe my labor and delivery experience, resulting in one teeny baby named Jasmir Francis Alam.

For about one week up to the day of delivery, I started having mild cramps that lasted for a few minutes, mostly in the evening time, similar to a normal monthly menstral cramp; that is to say, not too painful, but an indication that some change is happening.  The first time this happened, I thought it might be the indicator that labor was shortly coming.  Then, when it didn't, I just kind of ignored them, or just got used to them and didn't really pay closer attention.

The day I actually went into labor was Saturday.  I visited a local bicycle shop with my mom, sister and nephew because I asked for a bicycle for my birthday gift.  Since I was 41 weeks pregnant on that day, we knew labor could happen anytime, so we thought we should go try out some bikes while I could comfortably sit and before September 10, which is my birthday, rolled around.  So, in the early afternoon, I found this great cruiser that was on a special clearance, and it happened to be super comfortable and awesome, so I took it for a test spin, and could comfortably ride at 9 months pregnant, so deemed it a good fit.  Then, we went to eat lunch at a local Thai restaurant, kind of a hole in the wall place, and with an incredibly amazing sushi bar.  I know that certain things are not recommended for pregnant women to eat, raw fish included, but being the rebel that I am, I took my chances several times throughout and indulged.  We ate, took a grocery shopping trip, which entailed me hanging out in the parking lot with my nephew, letting him pretend to drive, then headed home.

After a few hours, I started helping with dinner.  That's been something nice my family has been trying to do, at my request, is eat dinner together.  That was the "last meal," as I started having some serious labor pains after dinner.  It just slowly creeped up on me, starting more that morning, then just coming like in 15 minute intervals, then 10, then 5, and by that point, I was starting to freak out a little.  It was really hurting, and I thought, "well, this sucks." My sister suggested it was time to go to the hospital, but I just wasn't ready.  Mentally, I thought I would be more prepared, but I wasn't.  But I just started getting in that mode where I listened to her, then my doula, once we arrived at the hospital, then went into my own world from there.

We arrived at the hospital at midnight, and they kept me in triage for over an hour.  My cervix was dilated 4 cm and the baby was at -2 station, so maybe they were keeping me a bit longer so they could admit me.  I'm not really sure, and the contractions had sort of stalled out by that time, and weren't very painful (in comparison to the later ones, anyway) so we were just chatting with the nurse and waiting on my body to do its' thing.  Once they admitted me, after about an hour or so, the contractions started getting really painful and I was, well, surprised about how hard it was.  When I broke my leg, i thought I could not top any pain like that, ever again, as that was so intense and so crazy, and it made me kind of bitter, so I thought labor would be a cinch.  Wow, do I ever feel like an idiot!

So for some reason, I had decided I wanted to keep my new running shoes on.  Ever since I broke my leg and could walk again, I have pretty much lived either barefoot or in running shoes.  My mom bought me some a few days before I gave birth, so I was ecstatic about having foot comfort again, after limping around in my old South African running shoes.  And I know myself, how I don't ever just sit down, and thought I'd like to be comfortable during labor.  And I was right on the not sitting down part anyway.  I didn't sit or lie down once, until they made me at the very end.  No position was comfortable, to say the least, but the best ones were sitting on the toilet, squatting up and down, and grabbing onto any handle-like object and leaning or squatting.  Good lord, that was the craziest most painful thing I have ever done in my life.  It certainly trumps surfing, breaking my leg, nearly getting arrested, or any other crazy things I've experienced.  All the books, stories, and information that talks about birth as this romantic notion I can understand in the abstract, but in concrete, real-life, I think it is hell.  I still feel all queasy with nausea and teary-eyed thinking about how bad it hurt, and how I felt like my sanity was super close to teetering off the deep end several times throughout.

My doula and my sister both commented on how focused I was, and how well I did, but I was moaning and groaning and screaming because I couldn't help it.  I kept thinking how I ought to be able to go to some happy yoga place in my mind to trick it away from the pain, but instead, what I focused on.  They say every mom finds her way to get through it.  Then, at the end, the reward is this baby.  But I was just glad it was over!  I didn't really think of it that way at all, until after the suctioning, stitching, cleaning, etc. were complete and I could get a chance to focus on life outside labor again.  It was a totally tunnel-vision type of experience, but not religious whatsoever.  Before labor began, I was really sad that Jackei couldn't be with me.  Now, after it's over, I'm really glad he wasn't here.  Nobody should have to see somebody they love go through that crap!  I'm really amazed my sister actually wanted to help me, and was really, really glad she was there.  I'm also really glad I hired a doula.  The two of them made a great team, and I could NOT have done it by myself.  The nurses and everyone in the hospital taking care of me were great, too, because they all supported my plan to go "au natural" but if I ever do it again, a) I must be crazy, and b) I'll take a Tylenol or something!

Anyway, it seems when i write anything significant, it's always about pain.  Well, it seems I entered my time of pain in life, and hopefully am kind of on the way out.  I know motherhood is a totally different kind of path, and it has actually been great so far, but lots of special pains involved with it.  It took me awhile to bond with my son, but not too awfully long, and he's terribly cute so it wasn't really that hard :)  It's just that nothing, absolutely nothing, prepares you for the long road of pregnancy, labor, delivery, and motherhood.  Not all the books and manuals in the world, the well-meaning advice from friends of family, your own imagination, nothing.  I am looking forward to what this new beginning will bring, but am really, really glad the last part is finished.


  1. Congratulations, Jenn, on the birth of your new baby boy. The first time is always the hardest, because your bones haven't unhinged yet to make room for the birth process. Actually, nobody can tell you what it's like. You have to go through it yourself. Give yourself a little time and you will get over it. People usually do do it again. :-) I remember the first time I was in labor, I couldn't believe people willingly had more than one child, because they didn't know any better the first time and after the first time would never willingly go through labor again. But as you know, I have two sons. You'll see. But now you have the special happiness of having your first child, the one and only who adores you with every fiber of his being. It's amazing. Keep writing. Love, B