And I thought pregnancy was a wild ride! I have come to the conclusion that nothing, literally nothing, can prepare you for labour and delivery. My sister described it as the craziest 24 hours of her life, and I am going to have to agree. In the spirit of my last post, and to spare you the graphic details of my labour and delivery, here are 10 things that surprised this first time mom, about labour:
1.) I was really glad that I didn’t make a labour plan.
I went into labour with a very open mind and it’s probably a good thing because nothing went the way I pictured it. There was no time for back rubs or cat naps, everything went so quickly, even the three, YES THREE, hours of pushing and it was all totally out of my control.
2.) Getting an epidural does not mean you are home free, unfortunately.
In my head, once you got an epidural, it would be smooth sailing. I was wrong. I was pleasantly surprised that the epidural actually didn’t hurt that badly but I was unpleasantly surprised to find that it only worked on the left side of my body! So, lucky me, I got TWO epidurals and then guess what, right near the end, in the throes of pushing, it wore off and I was in excruciating pain. Thankfully, my nurse decided to get me a top up, unfortunately, it didn’t work. Enter: fentanyl, which normally would have freaked me out, but in the early hours of August 20, I wanted ALLLL the drugs.
3.) Your labour and delivery nurse is the most important person… ever.
I knew the doctor wouldn’t be in the delivery room for very long, but I did not realize what an important role my labour and delivery nurses would play. When my nurse Pauline told me it was time to start pushing, I wondered where everyone else was. (I also didn’t think it would take me three hours…) That nurse was with me the whole time, holding my leg, coaching me and most importantly, ordering me more pain killers.
4.) I was nicer to my husband than I thought I would be.
I actually said this out loud to Mike at one point and he agreed. I envisioned myself feeling a little bitter towards my husband during labour and yelling out all sorts of things like, “you did this to me!” but instead I was quite mild mannered, even saying please and thank you as he gave me sips of water. I did however, tell him he needed to come up with a new affirmation after hearing, “you’re doing great!” for the 50th time.
5.) I was still trying to be funny.
Humour must be my coping mechanism because I found myself still trying to be funny, for example: while I was pushing, Mike and the nurse were trying to motivate me to push harder. Mid push I heard Mike say, “A big hard one!” and I almost burst out laughing. After I was done pushing I looked at him and quipped, “You can not say that again. A big hard one is what got me into this mess!”
6.) I no longer cared about modesty.
I’m probably the last person you would find at a nude beach so the thought of being in stirrups for a wide variety of hospital staff to see made me really uncomfortable. It turns out, when a baby is trying to make its way out of your vagina, you don’t really care anymore, you just want people to help you. Even my husband got a front row seat to all the action as he held my left leg and cheered me on. There was no, “just look at my face” from that vantage point.
7.) I was less brave than I thought I would be.
Near the end of my pregnancy I started to feel ready for baby to come. I wanted to be some stoic, wonder woman in labour and pictured myself just getting into the zone and powering through. In the end, I was significantly more scared than I thought I would be and more vocal about how scared I was, especially when baby’s heart rate would dip and I wasn’t sure how much more I could push. Luckily my husband was an incredible support!
8.) I thought it would take me more time to bond with baby.
I have never had baby fever or been crazy for babies so I assumed that it would take me a little while to feel connected to my baby, which I know is totally normal. When they put that little wrinkly, gooey baby on my chest I felt like my heart exploded and I couldn’t believe she was real. (That feeling was also a fabulous distraction from the doctor working away to stitch me up…ugh)
9.) We couldn’t wait to get home.
People always complain about how quickly they kick you out of the hospital these days so I assumed we would want to stay as long as possible. My husband was basically sleeping on a piece of plywood that went wide to narrow (who designed that?!) and our baby screamed the entire night. While the nurses were unbelievable, we could not wait to be in the comfort of our own home.
10.) The truth behind “mom and baby are doing well.”
Now that I’ve had a baby, I’m certain that “mom and baby are doing well” is actually code for “mom feels like she got hit by a truck whilst laying spread eagle on the road and baby is a tiny dictator who triumphantly rules our roost.”
There’s a reason they make babies so cute! Have you had a baby, what surprised you?