My contractions started on a Friday evening, but stopped by Saturday morning. They started up again Saturday night, but then stopped again by morning. I was so frustrated! Two days overdue, I was so ready to find out if I had a son or daughter. Finally, by Sunday evening, the contractions were coming on stronger. At 10 pm we grabbed the hospital bag and when I showed up at labor and delivery to find out I was only three centimeters dilated," I almost said out loud, "Are you f***ing kidding me?"
I labored there until midnight, set on doing this naturally after seeing Ricki Lake's, "The Business of Being Born." But when you realize it's now Monday and you've been in labor since Friday, you bring up the epidural. My husband and doula quickly reminded me why I wanted to do it without drugs, and I changed my mindset to, "I can do this," and kept telling myself, "the stronger my contractions, the sooner my baby will be in my arms."
I'm not gonna lie. I remember a clear thought, looking at my husband, saying, "I am never doing this again. Let's just have puppies." The pain was obviously intense, and I was a little nervous because they kept losing the baby's heartbeat. By 9:30 am, I was laboring in the shower, and started to get the urge to push. I felt something coming and reached my hand around, excited I might feel the baby's head. But no, it was poop. I looked at my husband and he smiled and said, "I love you."
That urge to push continued and I heard the doctor yell, "Get her out of there!" I trudged back to the bed, and she softly said, "We've got to get this baby out, honey." My husband looked a little scared, so I knew something must be wrong. When that first contraction came, I pushed as hard as I physically could. I pushed so fricking hard, knowing my daughter's life depended on it, not caring if it'd hurt, or about my immense fear, that I'd tear. I just pushed. It only took 10 contractions and SHE was out. A baby girl. Healthy and breathing, she was placed on my bare chest all warm and crying. And I was crying, and my husband. We were sobbing saying, "You're so beautiful. And you're here. You're finally here."
I later found out the umbilical cord was wrapped around her little neck and there was talk about vacuums and ORs and c-sections, but I was so lost in my little world of rocking back and forth, deep breathing, and envisioning that baby in my arms that I had no idea. I felt like Superwoman. I did it. I frickin' gave birth, and I did it without drugs. I was pretty proud of myself.
They wheeled us down to recovery and that's when I found out that I looked pretty beat up. My good friend who worked at the hospital came in the room and the look on her face made me say, "What? Get me a mirror." I saw red spots in the whites of my eyes, and what looked like bruises all around my eyes. My face was so swollen, I hardly recognized myself. I even noticed a popped blood vessel in Sadie's tiny eye.
The nurses in recovery assured me that it was completely OK and normal. And it wasn't because I did it without drugs. The nurses said instinct took over, out of fear that I'd lose my baby, and that can happen when pushing so intensely. I was a little bummed that I didn't have sweet, shareable post-delivery family pictures, and even had to warn my parents before they came to visit that I looked like I'd been punched in the face.
The swelling went down within a day and the bruising a few days later, but Sadie and I had those spots in our eyes for almost two weeks. I'm telling you so you know. I wish I knew! No one told me this could happen. I had never seen any other moms with this. But this is proof that giving birth is serious work. And no matter what experience we have, it really is all worth it, and worth it enough that I did end up having another baby, a son. If it makes you feel any better, this didn't happen with him. Here's to moms and all we go through, because the birth is only the beginning!