Photo by: Gabi Menashe

Push- Facing Labor and Delivery Head On!

Photo by: Gabi Menashe

Every woman remembers the moment she found out she was pregnant. Whether it’s the moment you barfed all over the kitchen floor and promptly thought, “Mmmm, an ice cream sandwich would make me feel better… wait a minute! This doesn’t feel like the stomach flu, maybe I’m? Could it be that I’m…?” or maybe you were waiting for a visit from good old Aunt Flo (seriously, do people call it that any more?) and she was late, way late and you realized, “Punctuality isn’t the problem…”. Once you’ve come to those realizations you do one of a few things, you leave it, in complete denial until you can’t ignore the signs any more, you run to the drugstore purchase a pregnancy test and then check it every 5 seconds until you’re way past the 2 minute waiting period or you shuffle on down to your doctor and let them do the tough stuff.

Either way, at the end of this step you have an answer, ‘Mrs. Stone, you are definitely pregnant!’ Maybe you’re thrilled to pieces. Maybe you and your husband have been trying for an eternity, and this baby is just what you’ve been trying for. Maybe this pregnancy came as a surprise, a good surprise but one that wasn’t exactly in your day timer for this month. Or, maybe this pregnancy has thrown a wrench into things, you weren’t expecting it, you’re not sure you wanted it but you’re here, in the moment and you’re pregnant. Whatever the case, you’re pregnant, and you’re staring down the barrel of 9 (but actually 10) months of life altering, body manipulating changes. And, if you’re like I was you are excited, nervous and slightly scared.

I do remember the moment I found out we were pregnant. It was just shortly after our honeymoon in fact. You see, my husband and I wound up with the stomach flu the day before our wedding. It was awesome (if you didn’t catch the huge, dose of sarcasm there let me tell you again, “It was awesome, gag”). We made it through the wedding okay, our pictures look fabulous, you can’t tell we’d been sick, but I fainted during our first dance and we spent our first night as man and wife, asleep, just asleep in a king sized bed. The honeymoon proved to be less boring but I had completely neglected to compensate for the fact that I’d thrown up 3 days worth of birth control. Hello, pregnancy! It wasn’t exactly planned, but we were excited. But I’m a skeptic, in fact, I was so worried that I’d imagined being pregnant that I took 7 pregnancy tests. Yes, that’s right 7. By the time I decided to call the doctor for a confirmed answer, I’d become a master at not peeing on my hands.

Once we got over the initial surprise we were excited! Thrilled and anxious. What would being pregnant be like? Would I finally get boobs (I live in the land of A-Cup, even after 2 babies)? Would I lose sight of my feet? How much weight would I gain? Would I feel like a beautiful goddess or a beached whale? I bought books, my Mom sent me a book. Family and friends around us were all pregnant and I felt like I’d joined some elite club. Go Mommies! Go! Pregnancy wasn’t my friend, some ladies thrive when they’re prego, I survive.

With each milestone that passed and as the weeks pregnant grew and the weeks until due date (D-Day in our house) grew smaller my anxiety grew. What would it be like to go into labor? Would I even know I was in labor? (You’ll know, I promise!) What about delivery? How bad would it hurt?! You hear horror stories through out your pregnancy. Well meaning folks who just “have to share” their own labor and delivery story.

Most really do mean the best, those moments are in their own way precious to them, but what they don’t always realize is that to the average first time Momma, they are terrifying. You get the Moms who are shameless and chose to tell you all the gory details, “I labored with little Jimmy for 27 hours”, “I had 19 stitches out and 6 in with little Penelope” and you get the ones who make themselves out to be the martyr, “I did it with no drugs, they are dangerous, who needs them, our bodies were made for this, no drugs, remember I did it, for 36 hours with No Drugs!”.

Which to you, 8 months pregnant translates like this: “I was in labor for 36 days, had No drugs because that makes me a good Mom and only bad moms chose drugs (a pregnant translation not the truth), I pushed for 14 of the 36 days and when I was finished has 13 doctors, 2 nurses and guy I don’t know put in 450 stitches” Not actually reasonable, but I am convinced the pregnant brain loses all ability to reason, ration or be in emotion control. At least mine did.

I went into labor scared spitless. What would it be like? Would I get the drugs? How many people would see the other end of me? How bad would it hurt?! The questions abounded, but as time passed, I fell into a groove. I quickly discovered, that those L&D nurses, knew what they were doing. I found out that it totally hurt! I also learned that DRUGS are GOOD (not the kind you buy on the corner at midnight from a guy wearing a hood, smelling like the floor of a bar) but the kind that are an epidural – as an aside, I fell in love with the epidural, if I could have one every time I have my period or stub my toe I’d so be there, whoot for blissful numbness. I pushed for a period of time, despite the fact that my doctors where too busy to notice and were chatting about some surfing girl and at the end, at the end of that very long and short day, I held my daughter for the first time. It was heaven.

I’ve since had another baby girl, I lived through another pregnancy that surprisingly held it’s own questions and concerns. I gave birth to her in a different hospital, under different circumstances, and had no drugs because there was no time. The outcome was the same, when it was all said and done, in my arms was a beautiful little girl, and I was in exhausted heaven.

In those moments, I learned something. Something I want to share with every first time pregnant gal, with everyone who’s ever thought about having a baby or feared giving birth. It’s a discovery that is and was earth-shattering for me. It’s what gave me the confidence, the peace and the tools to do what was necessary when D- Day came. In the whole scheme of pregnancy labor is the shortest part. While it’s length varies, for some it’s hours, others it’s a day and for very few it’s days, there has never been a woman left to labor for 9 (actually 10) months.

And while it will hurt like nothing you’ve ever felt before, your body truly does know what it’s doing, and you will survive. You might scream, you might not, you might cry, you might not, you may have moments where hitting your husband over the head with the closest IV pole would feel therapeutic, you may actually do that… wait, probably not. Whatever it is, however scared you are remember the prize at the end it worth every second. I can give you oodles of advice, but I won’t. Others will, give you that advice, do yourself a favor. Take the good and keep it, the stuff that makes you feel confident, the stuff that makes you feel good, the things that give you hope, file them away for later. And take the bad stuff, the things that bring you moments of fear, times of uncertainty and that make you want to keep the baby in forever to avoid the coming out process and throw them away. Ball them up, and pitch them into the garbage recess of your brain, right next to the lyrics to “The Song that Never Ends” and your extensive Grade 12 knowledge of the periodic table (unless you teach, mix chemicals or purposely blow things up you don’t need to know that anymore).

Just remember this, whatever you choose is right for you. There are no wrong decisions when you’re in labor. If you want to eat those ice chips, eat ‘em. If you want to cry and tell your husband this is all his fault, do it, just be prepared to eat your words later. If you want drugs, have them! Know the risks, but understand that your doctors, nurses and care takers will do their very best to protect you. And remember, in those last moments when you feel like you can’t possible push one more time, this is it! It’s the end! You’ve run the race, and you run it well, it’s the home stretch and the crowd is cheering, you’ve won the prize and she’s beautiful! Job well done, Momma! Job. Well. Done!

Ashley Stone works, blogs, parents and survives the joys, trials and hairpulling moments as Momma to two beautiful and busy little girls.

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4 Comments

i loved this.so true about being a first time mom. i did want to hit my husband with ANY thing i could lift when i was in labor with my oldest mainly. was induced,potocin to high, major contractions till epidural kicked in. so he really had it coming. with second one i wanted to hurt one of his bosses.he jinxed me.had son on 21st but was supposed to be induced 22nd. i was @ a 7 when admitted got epi when i was at 8 i think or 9. not sure. i was in for about 2 hours before they gave it to me...

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labor is painful but in its way beautiful. Im a mother of 2 I tried to have a epidural and she poked me 6 times I told her the contractions were less painfull than her needle. I did in 1982 and 1990 have demoral, but I dont have the back pain that my 2 daughters my daughter-in-law and 3 of my daughters freinds have. its lower back pain and my mom has it to and she only had 1 epideral...

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I have the honor of teaching being with moms in labor and teaching birthing classes.
I do teach and DO see that not all labor and birth is painful. Mine was not. Our culture is very fear based. Some women feel the need to scare others with their horror stories. This is not true in all cultures. At this time most women choose to believe all or most of what doctors tell them. OB's are trained surgeons...

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LONG LIVE THE EPIDURAL!!! I loved it so much I had two! Mainly becuase the girl giving me the first one missed. I had the easiest labor and didn't care that I pooped on the tabke in front of a live studio audiance. And I was petrified before hand that I would. All the things i had pannicked about disapeared when a blood drawer gently thrust a bedpan at me when I told her I had to puke and then left me holding the bag- er- pan.
I loved pregnant. I can't wait to do it again...

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