My water broke with my second child at 2:45 in the afternoon. I called my husband and my sister, and I then waited to be picked up as I cried standing in the hallway outside my son’s bedroom while he was napping. I wanted to see him one more time while he was an only child.
Two hours later, I was in the delivery room pushing my daughter out — despite the fact that 45 minutes earlier, I was only dilated 4 centimeters and my doctor had told me I still had “lots of time.” She said we could put the epidural off for a bit, even though I was begging for it. She didn’t like to “dole them out so fast. They could slow labor down quite a bit.”
I was surprised at how much I wanted to hurt her at that moment, but not as surprised as I was when I started pushing 45 minutes later — without the epidural, you know, because we still had “lots of time.”
There are lots of other surprises that may await you in the delivery room as well, like…
1. You may be wishing your partner was anywhere but next to you.
I remember my friend calling me a few weeks before my first was born.
“Just wait,” she said. “You are going to hate your husband.”
Nah, not me, I thought. Only I was mistaken.
Cue my water breaking and then my first hard contraction, and his breathing sent me over the edge. How dare he mention he is hungry?! OMG, why isn’t he doing anything to make this better for me?
And if they complain that their arm is sore from holding your trembling leg as you push a human out of your cave of wonders, or that you hurt their hand while squeezing too hard while you were getting an epidural, you may decide to really show them what sore limbs feel like.
During labor, women become the strongest motherfuckers I know.
2. You could feel like you are at a party.
Only it’s a party you don’t want to be attending. And you are the host, only you don’t want to be the host.
You keep seeing all these new faces, and you feel like you should be polite because they are. They take the time to introduce themselves to you, and you manage a weak smile — but you really want to scream “Fuckyouwant?” in between contractions.
You may see medical students, nursing assistants, and a few different doctors if you are laboring for a while. Also, depending on how many people you have called before shit started to get real, you may have a crowd waiting outside your door, pacing and eating pizza.
3. You may get a catheter.
If you have a C-section or an epidural, you will definitely have one. But even during natural childbirth, your nurse may administer a catheter. After a certain point, my nurse did not want me getting up to use the pot. I had no idea this was a part of natural childbirth, and it’s a part I wish I had refused. It would have been extra special if someone had mentioned that it may cause you to piss yourself three days later while you are washing dishes and trying rock your child to sleep with your foot because you are a new mom and you are silly enough to try and get things done.
4. You might lose your voice.
The primal-sounding roars that can escape your body while pushing will impress you. No one knows they are capable of letting out deep groans that last for three minutes until they are giving birth. When it is all over, you are left with a voice that is scratchy and raw.
5. Dinner may be served.
It doesn’t matter if you are pushing, throwing up, or moaning on a birthing ball naked, when dinner is ready, it gets served. In fact, with my third, they brought my husband a big silver tray while I was dilated 9 centimeters and ready to push. Chicken. They brought him chicken. I wanted to shove that chicken down his stupid throat. (See No. 1 again.)
6. You’ll probably be asked if you want to see your placenta.
This is wonderful if you do want to see it. You made it, it fed your child, and I am sure it is interesting. But for me, after doing what I just did, the sight of the afterbirth was the last thing I wanted to explore.
7. You will still have contractions after the baby and placenta have been delivered.
I was not expecting this. I thought all the pain and contractions were supposed to be over after you gave birth to all the things, but no. They may still keep coming. It is normal and you will be okay, but a warning would have been nice.
8. Meconium is a thing.
This is the first bowel movement of your little being. Your child might be so excited to see you that they let it rip as soon as they take their first breath. If this happens, it will get all over you and all over them. It will look like black tar. (It’s also totally normal.)
9. It might happen really fast.
Remember my story above? Even if the doctor, nurse, or midwife tells you that there is plenty of time until you need to push, your little munchkin might decide to make an early entrance. If you feel lots of pressure, like you really have to take a huge poop, you are probably crowning. (Or you are actual pooping yourself. It’s cool, though!)
10. You might hyperventilate.
This might cause you to see stars and experience a numbing or tingling sensation in your arms or legs. This can be really scary if you aren’t expecting it to happen to you, so if it does, speak up right away.
11. Things might not go as planned.
This is the hardest thing to wrap your mind around. Our birth plans feel sacred; it is our body, our baby, and we want to do it our way. It is hard to let go of the idea we have in our head. And we all have a right to speak up because we all want what is best for our child and for ourselves, but there is no need to feel less-than because our delivery room experience didn’t go just as we thought.
Moms definitely get amnesia after giving birth. During labor, no matter what your experience is like, so many of us think, Why are there so many fucking people the world? Who would do this again and again? But we make it through because we are badass — badass enough to do it again and again, despite how excruciatingly hard it is. I think we can all agree our children are the only gift worthy of what we have to endure to bring them Earth-side.