Jennine Craig released the shackles of a full-time job in advertising to be at home with her family. Newly married with an infant daughter, she is discovering what it means to be a mommy. And now she’s expecting a new “addition” to her family shortly.
So, after about 8 months you just start to feel big in every sense of the word. Getting in and out of the car or standing up after sitting down is a bit of a chore. And, you really start thinking, “when will this be over?” I suppose it’s a good thing that gestation takes 9 months, because there is a lot to adjust to physically, emotionally, and financially. But, as the end nears, you are definitely ready to give birth.
For me, as a full-time working pregnant gal, I started to have some anxiety about when and how the actual giving birth part was going to happen. I worked a good 1-1/2 hours from home. Which meant my hospital, my doctor, and my husband were all one heck of a commute away if I went into labor. And, then there were client meetings. What if my water broke in front of my clients? Would I be able to make it home? Would a pool of water be left in my wake? What would my colleagues say? Or worse, the partners for the firm? Could I withstand the humiliation of that moment? I started to wonder if I should start wearing adult diapers or something. Of course giving birth is a miracle. But the last thing I wanted is part of that miracle to be leaking on the floor during a big meeting. And I certainly didn’t want to deliver somewhere on the highway while trying to drive home. Needless to say, the anxiety I created for myself left me up many a weeknight.
I was due in August, so I got to spend a hot summer in full bloom. Thank goodness for air conditioning. While trying to wrap up my work responsibilities and preparing for the baby, I had my hands full. One saving grace was a built-in vacation we planned in July at the beach. I got to bring out my maternity beach wear, which was actually pretty cute. And, my also pregnant sister was on vacation with us. It was sure nice not to be the only huge, uncomfortable, and swollen one hanging out on the beach.
After a little R&R at the shore, I came home and simply had to wait out those last few weeks. And wonder. When was it going to happen? Where would I be?
My in-laws wanted to take us out for a “last supper” as a childless couple. So the last Saturday in July, we went to this quaint little restaurant for dinner. We had a nice, long indulgent meal. I ordered crab cakes. They were fantastic. And, of course, a delectable chocolate dessert. Completely stuffed, my husband and I drove home.
Once home, I just wanted to crawl into bed. My husband, on the other hand, wanted to finish his book. So, I went to bed alone. A couple hours later, I was in the bathroom. Not unusually for a pregnant me, I was up about 2-3 times a night. My husband was just coming to bed when I walked out of the bathroom. Strangely, I felt the urge to finish the laundry. So, I took a load out of the dryer to fold and put the clothes in the washer into the dryer. Now, I’m in the bedroom folding clothes at 3am and I feel my water break. Not a gush, just a trickle. And, no contractions. Hmmm…I’m just a little concerned.
I call the doctor’s office and leave a message with the operator. We wait for the doctor to call back. Was this it? No clue. I still had a week until my due date. The doctor called and said we should go to the hospital.
We take some clothes and a big “birthing” bag filled with the prescribed essentials you read about in books…favorite music, water, snacks, change for vending machines, books, birthing ball, towels, wash clothes, extra pillows, birthing plan, etc. It’s four in the morning and we’re the only ones on the road. Some mild contractions start. My husband (Mr. Nonchalant) decides to stop at a 7-11 for a paper and soda.
At the hospital, we go into the triage area of labor and delivery. The nurses discover I have high blood pressure and my water hasn’t completely broken yet. The nurse asked me if I want an epidural or pain medication. I say no, because I’m going natural. (Did I see a slight smile on the nurse’s face?) We are then set up into a birthing suite. My husband decided to lay down on a recliner to rest, as not much is happening to me yet. (Did I mention that he’s kinda laid back?)
The doctor comes in and decides to jumpstart my contractions by giving me a “pitocin” drip. “By the way” the doctor said, “This is a teaching hospital. Do you mind if a few med students observe your delivery?” “Sure,” I replied. No really giving it much thought. It’s probably 6:30am by now. I was sitting quietly in a rocking chair with mild contractions, thinking giving birth is really a peaceful process. Then everything changed. A wave of harsh cramping in my gut coincided with nausea. I felt like I was going to pass out and throw up all at once. I couldn’t talk…only breathe. I was breathing, telling myself just a few more moments. A few more moments. You can do it. And. Then. Relief. It subsided. Whoa! So, that was a contraction. OK. I can handle this… just need a little recoup time. But, no. Here it comes again! Wave after wave after wave after wave. My contractions were very painful and intense and less than two minutes apart. My god, why didn’t I get an epidural!
Before I knew it the nurse had me back on the bed on my back. I had lost track of time and what was happening around me. All I knew was that I needed to endure this excruciating pain that came every two minutes. A resident came in to check my progress. It must have been around 8am. I felt this sudden urge to push. The resident looked at me like I was crazy. I couldn’t be fully dilated at this point. He checked me and gasped. He felt the baby’s head. He ran out to grab the doctor. “Don’t push,” he said. Right, I thought. Like I could even stop it.
Quickly the room transformed. The pictures on the walls rolled up to reveal lights and equipment. The ceiling above my bed lowered to reveal more lights. The doctor came in. The nurse was holding my hand coaching my breathing. Everything I learned in birthing class was out the window. I was hyperventilating and the nurse had to breathe with me so I wouldn’t pass out. The nurse was holding one of my knees up and my husband was holding the other. I closed my eyes and retreated into myself only hearing the sound of my breathing and feeling the ring of fire where the baby’s head was crowning. There was nothing else.
“It’s a girl!” said the doctor. It was 8:38am. I opened my eyes and saw a room full of people I didn’t recognize. Students! A lot of them. Oh, my god (was a fleeting thought)! I shifted my focus down to see this little creature squirm and heard a little squeal. I fell back with exhaustion. It’s over. My baby disappeared to the other side of the room as they took her away for her first tests and to be cleaned up. My husband followed. I laid there totally dazed and confused.
Time stood still. I’m not sure how much time went by.
The nurse brought my baby to me. I looked down and saw this quiet little thing wide-eyed and just staring at me. All I could do is stare back in disbelief. My baby girl.
Absolutely amazing! What a wonderful feeling to see her and my husband, all teary eyed. Yes, everything was ok. And, yes, everything was about to change. Sure is funny looking back at all I did to prepare for birth. All the books I read. The birthing classes I attended. The birthing bag full of stuff we brought to the hospital. The birth plan I concocted. We didn’t use any of it! We were totally living in the moment while giving birth. Our actions and reactions were instinctual.
I sit here (two years later), 6 months pregnant with my second child while writing this article. And as I’m reminded of what we experienced giving birth the first time, I am totally relaxed about the whole thing. This time I wait in peace. Still planning on a natural birth, but will leave the books, classes, and birthing bag behind.
There’s still a bit of mystery even with my second pregnancy. Although I’ve been through this experience before, who knows what will happen when the time for giving birth is here again.
Please share your stories of giving birth below.