There is no longer any such thing as “bedtime” in my world. The days do not end, they just get dark and then get light again. Right now Kamel is talking to Gabe, who is having a bit of a meltdown over some possible gas. He is saying, “Are you the gas man? Are you the gas man Gabe?” Something about this, while I’m typing here in bed, with my sore nipples and weird loose back skin, makes me want to cry. And it’s not hormones. It’s just… sweetness. Pure sweetness. And I guess that’s what comes out of pregnancy… if you’re lucky, right? The sweetness.
So, last week I was due. On March 6th. And I spent the whole day pregnant. And this annoyed me because I had been pregnant for many moons and also because I hadn’t really ever believed my real due date was the 6th, I had always had a feeling it was more like March 1. So, when I waddled and hefted my bloated, sore, tired body into my check-up appointment on the SEVENTH I was annoyed. At this appointment the midwife told me I was 1.5 cm dilated and suggested she “sweep my membrane” … which is basically the most unsexy, fairly painful, lady handjob on the planet. But! the midwife told me that this special moment we shared most often prevents medical induction later on down the road… so I was down. After that, I had more of the period-like cramping I had been experiencing for a few days and some spotting – which was startling (yet promising!) because it had been a long time since I had seen anything like that.
The periodic cramping continued and I went to bed feeling a little womp and a little violated and truly expecting to go into full blown labor the following day at some point. At 4:00am the cramps woke me up enough that I thought we better keep track of them, just to see if this was IT. With a capital I-T.
(Aside: Kamel just said to Gabe… “You’re starting to smell like a hamster…” So I guess tomorrow we should maybe bath him a little. For whatever reason, this statement has sent me into a fit of giggles. Poor kid.)
So, Kamel got out his phone and started using his stop watch feature to time them. At first they were 5-7 minutes apart for an hour. At which point I called Labor/Delivery and told them what the haps was. At that point the contractions (which felt exactly exactly exactly like period cramps) were at a pain level of 7 out of 10. They told me to hang tight and labor as long as I could at home, take a shower, etc etc, and call them back when contractions were closer to 3-5 minutes apart. I said no problem! Will do! This is super easy! I got this down! I could hang out for many more hours! I took a shower, I blow-dried, I got dressed. At some point around the time when Kamel was wandering around without pants on and I was saying, “I really think you should put your pants on just in case we need to leave quickly…” the contractions shot up in intensity to an 8/9. At this point an hour had passed so I called the hospital and told them I wanted to come in. This is a photo of me, my bloated booty, and the hallway where L/D live. That is the door frame I so gratefully leaned against, not giving a single fuck who walked by, until I could move forward in slow, teeny baby steps, to my bed.
This was my labor/delivery room:
It really was not at all scary. I had my own private bathroom with an amazing shower, and the bed was comfortable, and there were big windows that looked out onto trees.
So… when I finally got into the room and they checked me, I was only a little over 2cm dilated. They thought about sending me back home, but told me to go walk around for 2 hours instead. So, after I had gowned up, and thrown my sweatpants on underneath, Kamel and I went to the waiting room and did little laps while watching the Today Show. By then it was just barely 7am. Well! About 20 minutes after that a big family came to use the waiting room for… waiting. And I was having terrible contractions so we decided to head back to the room. Not before I had a chance to scare the shit out of some poor woman by squatting down in the hallway, while a wave of insane pain washed over me, in my attempts to not puke or pass out though! I could not WAIT to get back to the bed where I could writhe in my tortured body without feeling like I was going to hit the floor. Although, at this point I kind of did feel like a failure for not being able to walk for 2 hours… it had been maybe 20 minutes. I also kind of felt weird about how painful my contractions were paired with the reactions of the nurses. They were kind of like, “First child? Only a little over 2 cm? Yeah this is going to take forever…” and even though I was going crazy with pain, they were not all that impressed by the contraction reports that were being printed whenever I was hooked up to the monitor (a strap around your belly, it is actually kind of cozy).
Well, joke was on them, because by 8-9am when they finally checked me again, I was already at 4.5 cm! My nurse was so excited! And so was I! because this meant I could get an epidural.
Now then… I went into this super open to lots of options, and I really did think that I was prepared for natural or not natural or whatever. But … for ME, this was the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. Every contraction was like absolute bone crushing torture. And I have had horrible periods… horrible cramps… but these? These made me cry and beg and … were horrible horribleness. HORRIBLE IN BIG CAPS. I am not trying to justify epidural use… I am cool with whatever, I was just incredibly SHOCKED by how much it hurt. So if you go natural… you are my freaking hero. I bow down to your pain tolerance, please never challenge me to a fight, I will run in the other direction.
The epidural… the hardest part about the epidural was that I had to sit up while it was hooked up to my back. No, it was not a giant needle like in the movies, it was some contraption that was taped all over my back that I do not fully understand (NOR DO I WANT TO) because it is gross and I have a thing with that. But here is the deal, when you are having the worst cramps of your life ohmygodkillme, sitting on the edge of a bed with your shoulders hunched is the worst place to be evereverever. And! On top of it! Having to be super super still because – you know – being paralyzed is an optional outcome. This was my only breakdown moment. Me, sitting, knowing that I was going to have a contraction every 5 min or so, and Mr. Fancy Drugs Man telling me this would take 10-15 minutes to complete. The nurse and Kamel were both in front of me and I was crying, asking them, “How?! How am I going to do this? I can’t! I can’t do this. I cannot sit here and have a contraction, I cannot.” And then I had one and it was horrible and dude hadn’t even started with the important parts yet! And I squirmed and Kamel held me and I cried. And when it was over I got super still and prayed Mr. Fancy Drugs Man would hurry the fuck up. And then I had another contraction… And this time I couldn’t move, but all I remember is Kamel whispering to me, “breath, just breath, you got this, you are doing such a good job, you got this you got this you got this.” And I did my best to clear my mind and think about all of you guys (truly) for cheering me on and being excited for us. And my breathing, and knowing it would end eventually. And then it was over and Mr. Fancy Drug Man gave me a small dose before hooking me up properly to the machine and I waited to not feel like I was being torn apart from the inside. (If you have questions about what it feels like to have an epidural, leave them in comments and I’ll fill you in.)
This is where today’s portion of the show is going to end, because – to be honest I wrote half of this super late last night and half of this this morning. But because BABY PICTURES, I will leave you with this reality:
This little man has been sitting in my lap while I type over him to get this post out to you before lunch time today. He is feeling a little thug life, a little fabulous, a little down and dirty. But I promise the best part of the story (except for the part where I finally stop writhing in pain, because… YES!) is in part 2. Where I shock the mother effing shit out of my nurses with my uterus of pure power and might. More later!