From a very early age, one of my biggest fears in life was child birth. I knew that billions of women had given birth before me, but the thought of a baby coming out of a very tiny space made me cry – really. In my third month of pregnancy I was reading about episiotomy and Ali came home to find me sitting in front of my computer sobbing. He ran to me thinking something terrible had happened and when he learned why I was upset he was both relieved and confirmed in his thoughts that I am a bit melodramatic.
Even though I was intensely afraid of childbirth, I wanted to be strong like all the women before me so I armed myself the best way I know – with knowledge. I read everything, took every class and came up with a plan. My birth plan was as follows: try to delivery naturally in the hospital; if I need an epidural get it after I’m dilated at least 5 centimeters.
In addition to my birth plan I made a list of things to bring with me to the hospital to aid me in my natural child birth (I love making lists). Some of the things my list included (don’t laugh):
- diagram of labor poses (a sheet with pictures of labor poses from a couples yoga class we took)
- playing cards
- lotion for massage
- warming pad
- tennis balls in a sock for lower back counter-pressure
- sour lollipops
- heavy socks for cold feet
- yoga mat
- coconut water (for hydration)
- antibacterial wipes and masks (because the hospital wouldn’t have this right? wtf?)
- a hand fan (like the kind Karl Lagerfeld used to carry)
- a mini battery-powered fan that you has paper inserts with essential oils (for aromatherapy)
- an iTunes playlist made specifically for labor and delivery
- white noise apps (I thought the sound of the ocean would soothe me)
- portable speakers for my iPhone
- exercise ball
You should have seen the amount of bags I took to the hospital with me. I was that girl – the term “under-pack” is completely foreign to me. With everything that I brought with me to relieve my pain, the only things I used were the portable speakers for my iPhone and the white noise apps. And I wanted to throw the speakers at Ali so I’m not sure how useful they were – the ocean waves failed to soothe me in this instance.
So the actual birth – while I had it in my head that I was going to deliver naturally it appears I was the only person in my circle (family, friends and obgyn) who did not think I would have a c-section. I was totally opposed to it and in denial. I’m very petite (under 5’0″) and before I was pregnant I was about 95 pounds. I gained about 40 pounds and most of it was in my belly. Everyone that looked at me thought there was no way I was going to push a baby out of me.
Ten days after my due date (I’ll spare you the misery of those ten days) I went to bed at about midnight and fifteen minutes later I woke up because I felt some moisture. I went to the bathroom and realized that my water broke. In a panic I called out to Ali to call the doctor. When we got through and I told her what happened she told me to go to the hospital immediately. We went to the hospital and by 3 am I was in my delivery room hooked up to lots of monitors. I was dilated 1 centimeter and I was hoping that I’d get to 10 centimeters quickly since the clock was ticking since my water broke. You see, if your water breaks the child needs to be delivered within 24 hours because of the increased risk of infection.
The nurses said to try to get enough sleep because I would have a long day ahead of me. I tried to rest but I didn’t get any sleep. I had contractions all night but they weren’t too strong. Early the next day, Ali and I started walking the halls trying to get things going. I felt contractions all morning but they weren’t close enough to mean that delivery was happening anytime soon. At noon, the contractions were still not close enough and they induced me. In my mind, inducing was the kiss of death. I knew that adding drugs into the mix was not what I wanted, not to mention that inducing usually meant more painful contractions which then led to more drugs – ah!!!
By 5 PM, my contractions were still not close enough and when they checked to see how dilated I was I found out I was still only 1 centimeter dilated! 1 centimeter! After being in labor for 17 hours! At that point I could see the writing on the wall. Even in the fastest of circumstances, I would dilate 1 centimeter every 1-1.5 hours. With 9 centimeters to go that would put me past the midnight deadline to have the baby. Rather than go through 7 more hours of contractions only to face the inevitable c-section I decided to just be done with it and have the baby. So, on Friday, May 7th at about 6 PM I was wheeled into the operating room and at 6:37 PM I met the Tiny Dancer. Words can’t express how I felt the first time I saw her. I had been waiting so long to meet her and then there she was – so small, delicate – my little girl. It was truly love at first sight.
For the first few months after I had the Tiny Dancer I had a sense of sadness and guilt toward the delivery. It wasn’t at all how I had planned it. I felt like I didn’t actually go through the experience. I felt like I cheated. I felt like I didn’t go through what so many women have gone through. Not that I like pain or anything but I just felt like I didn’t experience it the way it was “supposed” to be.
Now, over a year has passed and I don’t have those feelings. I guess I just needed time. That, and when you have a new baby you don’t really have time to sit around feeling sorry for yourself and wishing things were different. At the end of the day, the goal was to have a happy, healthy baby and I have that. Every time I look at the Tiny Dancer I don’t have any regrets about how she got here – she’s here and that’s all that matters. I wouldn’t have it any other way.