There is nothing like a pregnancy announcement to bring the birth stories out of the woodwork, amirite? Why is it that everyone who volunteers their birth story to an unwitting expectant mother has THE WORST story ever – 42 hours of labor, complications, emergency c-sections. Sometimes you just want to say:
In comparison, I had it pretty easy – short labor, lots of pain, healthy babies. Of course, all discussions with a pregnant woman must also include a generous dose of advice, solicited or otherwise. Consider this the best of both worlds; here is what I learned from giving birth.
Don’t move close to your due date.
Even if all you do is lift throw pillows, moving will induce labor. Some women swear by pineapple or magical chicken parmesan or spicy food. To heck with that, I say all you need to do is pack up your entire household and relocate it. That, my friends, will surely put things in motion.
I know nothing about my body.
Like most of the television viewing audience, when “I didn’t know I was pregnant” debuted, I couldn’t believe that someone could a.) not realize that they were pregnant, and more specifically, b.) not realize they were in labor. I mean, it hurts, right? How could you miss that? Everyone knows their body well enough to recognize the signs of labor! Me in particular, I had read the book! Obviously, I would know when I was in labor. Nope. After eating too much pizza, I figured my stomach ache and nausea was indigestion, so was I ever surprised when my water broke.
Timing is everything.
I will preface this by saying I had no delusions of grandeur when it came to childbirth. In no uncertain terms, I was getting the drugs. Here’s the thing about an epidural, it takes some time to take effect. In a hypothetical scenario whereby you arrive at the hospital well advanced in labor, you may not have time to get an epidural. In fact, you may sign the waiver and speak to the anesthesiologist and see the glorious IV bag full of the sweet nectar which could help dull the excruciating pain. And then your doctor may just explain that the baby will be there before the epidural will kick in. Subsequently, you may or may not sob like the baby you are about to welcome into the world. That may or may not happen to you, which leads me to my next tip . . .
Pay attention in childbirth class.
I was so sure I was going to get an epidural that when our instructor showed us breathing exercises and different positions that would help reduce pain during natural childbirth, I played with the Play-Doh instead of paying attention. That means that when it was time to “breathe through the pain,” I was ill-prepared to do so. Thank God for the nurses.
I learned nothing.
As it turns out, I didn’t learn much about childbirth the first time around. I know this because I did it again the following year, and almost managed to mess it up again. I would not be making the same mistake twice, so I didn’t feel the need to study up on natural childbirth, just in case. Thankfully, I had more traditional signs of labor the second time around. As it turned out though, I didn’t know what to do with this information. Ultimately, it was my loving baby-daddy who instructed me to get into the car to go to the hospital because apparently, he reads the signs of labor better than I do. The second time around, I arrived at the hospital just over an hour before my gal arrived, rather than the minutes I had previously. This extra time afforded me the luxury to realize what was about to happen and then, of course, to panic. I also had time for the epidural, and boy oh boy did that make the rest easier. I guess I did learn one thing because once again, the nurses. Dana, you were my rock.
You have to go home.
Eventually, you have to leave the hospital (or in some cases, the comforting embrace of your midwife or doula). Remember that stuff about the nurses? Yeah, you don’t get to take them with you.
As it turns out, my advice may not be that helpful to anyone. The one thing I was prepared for was the overwhelming, breathtaking love I felt when I saw my daughters. So maybe even though I know nothing about my body, I do know something about my heart.