My Labor Was Extremely Short — But That Isn't As Nice As It Sounds
While I was pregnant with my son, I had a birth plan. The plan was this: I would stroll into the hospital at week 39 in my comfy (yet fashionable) birthing outfit. My nails would be newly manicured and a shade of light blue. I would definitely be wearing makeup — because, you know, pictures. My mother would arrive in town two days before we went to the hospital to give me emotional support and watch our dog for us while we were away. (She wasn’t allowed in the hospital because of COVID).
While at the hospital, I would watch Harry Potter movies on my laptop while we waited for the induction. My husband would massage my shoulders and tell me how amazing and strong I am *cue warrior mom music*. I would have monitored contractions and then when the pain became too much to bear — BAM — epidural comes to save the day! I would give birth to my sweet son and my husband and I would all enjoy a nice family hug.
Ha, silly me.
Have any of you ever heard of precipitous labor? Yeah, neither did I until I gave birth to my son. Precipitous labor is defined as any labor that lasts less than 3 hours. It is very rare for first time moms — and even more rare in my case, because my labor lasted less than 90 minutes. Let me break down the shit show for you, minute by minute.
March 18th, 3:30 AM– I wake up. Ugh, gosh darn this pregnancy insomnia! I walk into the living room to grab my copy of “Sense and Sensibility.” Maybe I can get some light reading done without waking Kyle up. My dog follows me into the living room — such a good boy.
3:40 AM– I am chilling on my sofa and reading my book. Oh Marianne, don’t you know that Willoughby is a man whore?! Oh, wait, I think I have to pee. I’ll be back in a minute Marianne, don’t do anything stupid.
3:45 AM– Yep, that’s my mucus plug. Gross. Should I call the doctor? I don’t think losing my mucus plug means that I am in labor. I read online that it just means that labor might come in a couple of days. Whoa, this is exciting! Baby Jack could be coming soon. *excited dance*
3:46 AM– I’m kind of tired, maybe I will go lie back down and tell Kyle I lost my mucus plug. He will be excited.
3:50 AM: I lie back down on the bed and hug my tummy. CRACK. What the heck is that? I feel like something dropped inside me. Did my baby drop? Is this normal? Was that his head? *Cue mild period like cramping*
3:51 AM: KYLE WAKE UP. I think I am in labor. I grab my phone and call the doctor. Okay, so maybe Jack is coming tonight? Labor usually lasts about 8 hours so we still have time. We definitely don’t want to get to the hospital too early — they will just send us home!
3:55 AM: *HORRIBLE GUT WRENCHING CRAMP* Kyle, get the car ready! The nurse on call said that the doctor would call me back in 40 minutes. Maybe we should just go, to be safe.
4:00 AM: We are now in the car. Kyle is making jokes that are absolutely not funny at all given my current level of pain. How dare he try to make me laugh. *HORRIBLE CRAMP AFTER HORRIBLE CRAMP* I am not even timing the contractions because my hands are shaking and I can’t get the contraction timer app open on my phone. Husband is still making jokes. Stupid man.
4:35 AM: We arrive at the hospital. I tell Kyle that I don’t think I can walk from the parking garage, so we should just park at the front. I get out of the car and press my ENTIRE FACE against the glass hospital door. I see a tall security guard sitting behind a desk. Please Mr. Security guard, let me in. I am dying. Kyle is scurrying around trying to figure out what door we are supposed to be opening. Mr. Security guard looks at us like we are idiots. Kyle finally opens the right door.
4:45 AM: Somehow I have found myself to be in a wheelchair. How did I get into the wheelchair you may ask? I have absolutely no idea. At this point in the story, I am losing my shit and everything is getting blurry. I feel my water break in the chair. Kyle is talking to a receptionist who wants our identification. I’M WET. I’M WET. PLEASE TELL THE DOCTOR I NEED AN EPIDURAL! I politely scream at the receptionist as if she could do anything at this point to help me. I am dying. My stomach is going to explode.
4:50 AM: I am in some sort of room. Kyle is trying to get me to change out of my clothes into a gown. I am hitting him. I go over to the toilet. Am I going to throw up? Am I going to shit myself? Surprise! It’s shit. There is diarrhea all over the toilet. My husband is still trying to help me with my gown while simultaneously WIPING MY ASS FOR ME. Just leave me to die, Kyle. Just leave me…..
4:55 AM: Doctor finally comes. I NEED DRUGS! WHERE IS THE EPIDURAL MAN? TELL HIM I NEED HIM. I am screaming, begging, and pleading. The doctor smiles at me while the nurses are putting an IV in my arm. They tell me they need to check to make sure my water broke. I spread my legs open while screaming at them to please get the epidural man. After looking at my vagina, the doctor decides that they don’t need to send my vagina juice to the lab to check if it is amniotic fluid because she can already see my baby’s head. 7 centimeters dilated.
5:00 AM: They move me into another room on a stretcher. I am grabbing the nurse’s arm and begging her to get the epidural. Maybe she can put it in? Obviously the epidural man is sleeping on the job. I won’t tell anyone–just find the drugs and do your best. My whole body is sweating and I have crazy eyes. I see blood splattered all over the floor and all over the nurse’s gown. The nurse looks at me, slightly panicked and stressed out, and informs me that my IV fell out. Oh, that’s fine I tell her in between a contraction. Ummm, it is not fine she counters as she struggles to insert a new IV. The contraction starts again. I grab her in a bear hug and cry into her arms — begging her once more to please find the epidural man. My IV falls out again during our hug. I have no idea where my husband is. (I found out later that the nurses told him to go wait in the corner because he was in the way, there were too many people surrounding me, and I was acting like a lunatic so…)
5:05 AM: The epidural man finally arrives. He has some sort of cart and he is trying to tell me the effects of the epidural. I am blindly nodding my head in agreement to whatever he says. PUT IT IN, I plead. I don’t care if my legs fall off, just PUT…IT…IN. Then, all of a sudden, my body contorts in the strangest way. I feel myself pushing something out—I can feel my baby coming out of me. I must have let out some kind of a grunt, because the nurse looked at me and asked, are you pushing?! I looked that woman dead in the face and said NO—put the epidural in.
5:06 AM: … the nurse knew I was lying. She pushed my back against the head of the bed and called the doctor to come in. No time for an epidural, she said. We are just going to have to have a baby! Damn that woman. Ruining my plans.
NOOOOOOO!!! I WILL NOT!! I screamed. Terrifying every new mother in the labor and delivery ward.
5:09 AM: Somehow, I found my husband again. He was holding my hand. The doctor came into the room. VAGINA ON FIRE. VAGINA ON FIRE. After one contraction and two pushes — he was out.
My beautiful, magnificent, perfect baby.
And for the record, he was 100% worth it. But still…
Anybody who knows me, knows that I have never entertained the idea of a natural birth. As early as 16 years old, I remember laughing at my mother’s story of giving birth to me naturally (she actually kicked her doctor — poor guy) and proudly declaring that I will take all of the drugs available to me because I hate pain. I have always been a firm believer in the “whatever the mom wants” mentality when it comes to childbirth, and I still am. Who are we to judge how a mother decides to bring life into this world?
However, it was this same mentality that left me grossly unprepared for the possibility that I wouldn’t necessarily be given a choice. Like a wisdom tooth extraction or getting tonsils removed, I thought of birth as a medical procedure. In actuality, birth is as natural as breathing. Birth doesn’t wait for doctors or nurses. It won’t stop and ask you if you want an epidural. If it’s time — your body will just do it.
But that is why anytime anybody asks me if I am having another child, I make this face…