There is this club that I belong to. It’s an all women’s club. Don’t even get me started about all the fees and hidden costs. To become a member is relatively easy, all you have to do make an entire new human and grow them in your own body.
No big, right?
If you are pregnant, welcome to the Mom Club. It’s a wonderful place full of confessions, advice, information, and other people who know what you are going through.
There is a drawback to the Mom Club though…. comparisons, unwarranted advice, and boldface lying.
We all share information with each other. (Ahem, this blog.) Sometimes it is to a complete stranger in the aisle at the store, other times it’s your own mother or sister. One thing all moms in the club like to discuss is labor and delivery. But they don’t tell the truth! Especially if the mom they are talking to is pregnant. I’m going to make up a percentage here, but let’s say about 75% of mom’s lie about their childbirth experience.
It can be as simple as exactly how long their labor was, or whether she cussed as the top of her lungs. Or as complex as how she actually felt to hold her baby for the first time. Whether it is a small lie or a big lie, it still isn’t the real story. So I’m here to tell you the truth—everything I remember—no sugar coating.
IF YOU ARE EASILY MADE QUEASY…. STOP READING.
Labor at Home. I did not go into labor on my own, mine was induced, so I can’t give any truths about laboring at home or elsewhere. Also, my water did not break on it’s own.
I Have What Up There!? I did lose my mucous plug… I hoped it meant something was going to start happening. It didn’t. I walked around at 1 centimeter dilated for a month. It was gross when it fell out, but I knew what it was so it didn’t freak me out.
Bye Bye Personal Bubble. Once you reach the last month of pregnancy—and during your delivery—so many different people will put their hands up your vagina. Doctors, nurses, a midwife or two. You end up not really caring. It also can be very painful when they do cervix checks…. they measure dilation by how many fingers width it is. So… ow. Even worse when it happens during labor. Even weirder when they say “and I can feel the head”.
The Naked Factor. Triple the number of people—most that you met about one minute before—who have shoved their hands in a very private place, and that is roughly how many will see you naked. And not just naked, but spread open wide. And very, very vulnerable (and undignified). There is a difference between just standing being naked and being naked while delivering a baby. It doesn’t get much more exposed than that.
Getting the Drugs. I have no issue with needles. I got the epidural earlier than I wanted to but the anesthesiologist was about to be in surgery for 2 hours so I jumped on the opportunity. Didn’t hurt at all. The only crappy part was then being stuck to the bed. You have to stay in a reclined position once you get one. Even if I had wanted to move around I couldn’t because my legs were numb…. mostly. I could feel when people touched my legs. If I was laying on my side, then the lower leg would get more numb and the upper leg would be more sensitive. I had to shift every so often to even it out.
Pleasantly epiduraled and watching Harry Potter. I think we got through 4 of the 8 movies that first day.
The Wait. I can’t speak for other moms. Maybe 20 hours of trying to birth a baby really did fly by for them. But I was in the hospital for 20 hours until my baby was born, in induced labor for 16, and feeling every single contraction and pain for the last 2 hours. It was a long day for me, especially since it started at 6 am and I never got to eat. By the time they were saying “okay looks like you’re going to have the baby” I was just like…. “now? but I’m so tired.” Which is the story I hear a lot: the mom was in labor for so long, their body working so hard (whether they could feel it working or not), and they were exhausted by the time the baby was actually ready to come out. It’s a long day. Or two.
I also felt like the hospital stay after baby was born was too long. I actually begged them let me go home a day early. I just wanted to get home where we could be more comfortable and get settled.
The Pain. This, I remember. I distinctly remember feeling the contractions… first just little twinges… and then my entire body was clenched tight with pain. I had had Braxton-Hicks contractions for a lot of my third trimester; they are nothing compared to the real ones. The uterus is just one huge, massive muscle, and it only gets one show. Or two. Or however many kids you decide to have. The point is, unlike a bicep which flexes for you all the time, the uterus just gets the one shot to show off. And it does.
My uterus took up much of my torso. My internal organs had rearranged and moved aside. That meant my entire midsection was one giant, muscle. Imagine holding your muscles in a flexed state until the point where they shake and then ultimately release. That’s what contractions are, and they only get more intense. The uterus just keeps on keeping on—especially if it’s high on pitocin.
The labor induction drug caused my contractions to come hard, and fast, and without much break. I had 1-minute-long contractions every 45 seconds. I also felt a very different kind of pain, one that the epidural, even after they gave it a boost, could not cover. The pain of bones being pushed to the point of breaking.
That is what happens when soft baby head meets hard mommy pelvis. Oof. This picture of his cone head makes me cringe, and I’m his mother.
I didn’t cuss, but when I asked them later, they said I wasn’t silently bearing the pain either. I didn’t scream until we reached the operating room, and that was mainly because they had to remove the epidural to give me the spinal block, and you have to sit up hunched over for them to do that…. so I had to hunch over the muscle that was clenching and unclenching and trying it’s damnedest to get a human out of within another human. Sorry to the nurse who was holding me up whom I dug my nails into.
Regarding the c-section, I felt no pain at all.
The next day, I was still having contractions. It’s normal. They aren’t as intense as the labor ones, but they are not comfy either. It’s the uterus clearing out and shrinking back down. I still get phantom contractions. Since I had back labor, I feel my whole lower back cinch up tight and it radiates up and into my belly. Still. It’s been over a year. That might not be very common, so don’t expect it to happen.
Bodily Functions. I never got to the pushing part, so don’t ask me about pooping during labor. (Or tearing, for that matter.) Any birthing class will tell you that it happens a lot, and they nurses take care of it before anyone ever knows. And with tearing, I know they prefer the mama to tear naturally, because it heals better than being surgically cut. Not my personal experience. And maybe not yours either, 1 in 3 of you pregnant readers will have a c-section.
I did vomit, though, which is normal. That is why they won’t let you eat until the baby is born. I puked all over myself. Worse than after my 21st birthday and a bit more embarrassing. Also, I was catheterized so I peed into a bag for a day. That part was great, I didn’t have to think about getting up to go pee, finally.
Recovery. The only pain I was completely unprepared for was my empty belly the days following delivery. It just feels… weird. Very tender to the touch and to a lot of movement. Probably because of the uterus, and because my abs were all stretched in funny places and labor is a hard work out. My belly felt like a waterbed to others. Kind of bouncy and lumpy. I wish I could explain how it felt on the inside… maybe it was my organs shifting back into place? I don’t know. It was just… uncomfortable.
Weird shaped belly a week after birth. Empty and tender.
To summarize, labor hurts. It’s painful in ways I hadn’t thought of or even had the capability to comprehend. It’s icky, it’s exhausting, it’s hard. It’s trying, it’s draining….
It’s the birth of my child.
And I think that’s maybe why some of the moms lie, because after everything you go through, you don’t care. You have your baby, finally. It is true that the moment the baby is out all of the pain goes away instantaneously. It’s an incredible phenomena. For some, maybe at that point the memories of the pain really do wash away and become some distant idea. Not for me.
I remember the pain, and I don’t care. I’d still do it again exactly the same way. I have nothing to compare it to. It’s not like I had ever been in labor before that, so to me, it wasn’t that bad. If it means I get Eli, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I’d like to think that other moms aren’t lying… they just don’t care that it hurt, or that it took for-freaking-ever, or that they were too tired to hold the baby after it was born. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter. Your child is born. How they got here stops being important. You meet them face to face for the first time and know that you would go through it all again if you had to.
It sucks, and it hurts, and it’s not exactly pretty…. but labor and delivery is the most amazing thing humans are capable of. It’s incredible. And after? You’ll feel lucky to have gone through it.
Welcome to the Mom Club.