In honor of Labor Day, the day when we as a nation, honor all of our working people, I decided I would write a post in honor of a different type of Labor. This is in honor of the hard work women do after going into labor and pushing one (or more!) living beings out of an orifice that was made far too small to comfortably do the job.
I was ecstatic when I found out I was pregnant with our first child. I was bubbling with excitement even as I heaved Cheerios and milk mixed with coffee into the toilet every morning. Was it the beads of sweat that formed on my forehead as I tried not to vomit every time I brushed my teeth or tried to eat something that gave me that pregnancy glow? Maybe. But I really was glowing on the inside.
However, when the morning sickness finally passed and my waistline was no longer prone to curious glances of friends and acquaintances who were too polite to ask if I was pregnant, just in case I had actually been binge eating Twinkies, and I began to have the perfectly round beginnings of a baby bump, I realized the tenant in my uterus was getting bigger by the day and that this tenant was going to be inevitably evicted by my body, one way or another. It was an odd moment of realization since I had “known” this fact long before I became pregnant. It just hadn’t hit me on a gut level until that point. I was scared. Luckily, the impending arrival of our bundle of joy and all of the amazing dreams I had about meeting our daughter for the first time, kept my mind occupied more than the two options I had to actually get her out.
I, like many first time mothers, worried about how I would know I was going into labor. But here’s the funny part…I didn’t really know. I remember hearing in our birthing class “you’ll know,” because once the contractions start coming there is no mistaking them for Braxton Hicks. But of course, there are exceptions to every rule.
The day before Lauren was born, I had horrible lower back pain all day and some irregular contractions–that is, they were not coming at regular intervals all the time–sometimes they would be neatly spaced five minutes apart and I’d think, ok, this is the real thing! But then they’d stop, only to start up a little later and be eight minutes apart, then three, then five. Sometimes they were painful and I had to breathe through them and sometimes they weren’t as bad. I remember calling my boss and telling her I thought I was in labor and that I wouldn’t be coming in to work the next day. She laughed because it was still two weeks before my official due date. We went to the hospital about an hour later.
When we arrived at the hospital, I remember being annoyed at the nurses because I didn’t feel like they were taking me seriously. They seemed to think I wasn’t really in labor but I insisted that I was. When they finally put the belt on that measures the strength of my contractions, they seemed to think things were too irregular for this “to be the real thing,” and I remember them telling me I could stay a while longer but that I would probably sent home on account of the false alarm. I was peeved. I sat in a hospital bed with a belt around my stomach, extremely uncomfortable because I was in a lot of pain and worse, they seemed to think I was being an over-reactive drama queen. Then about forty-five minutes later, my water broke. I was triumphant. Even the increasingly agonizing pain of the contractions couldn’t stop me from gloating for a bit. HA! So there! I TOLD YOU I WAS I WAS IN LABOR. And then, the anesthatizing jubilation of being right wore off and I was just another woman having intense, painful and yes, REAL, contractions.
I’ll skip the epidural, the three and a half fruitless hours of trying to push my daughter out of my android (read “man-like”) pelvic opening, the emergency c-section I had after her heart rate started to drop from the stress of being stuck for over three hours at the top of a birth canal that was apparently a one-way street, and get right to the moment I came to my senses and looked at a nurse washing her hair and said “Is that our baby?” And it was! Sure, I hadn’t heard her first cry because I was knocked out cold for the c-section because there wasn’t time to re-do my patchy epidural, but there she was–perfect and pink and healthy. Not quite what I had expected but a process ,which I to this day, believe is deserving of a National Holiday.
**During my c-section, it was discovered that Lauren was sunny-side up, or face up, so I had been having back labor which is different than labor women experience with babies presenting face down. Apparently, this is typical for women with android-shaped pelvises.
Do you remember the day you went into labor with your first bundle of joy? Or if you are expecting your first, how are you preparing for the day your baby will make his or her grand entrance out of your body and into the world?