Our little Monkey is a boy! Jack was born May 26 at 6.15am, weighing 7lbs 1oz (NOT a small baby, hmpf) and 19 3/4" He's been with us for not even a week yet, and it already feels like he's been in my life forever.
The labor, however, was another story entirely. Twenty-five hours, twelve of which were utter hell. Honestly, I don't know how women do it (even though I just did). Pre-labor started at midnight Wed/Thurs with lower back cramps like a period. By 4.30am I woke James up - contractions had started. We spent early labor at home. Our doula came about 9am and was invaluable in offering pain management ideas and in talking about what was ahead. By the time we got to the hospital it was 4.30 pm and I was 3cm dilated. I was pretty disappointed that I hadn't gotten further along in twelve hours.
By 10pm I was only at 5 and deliriously exhausted. The contractions for these 2 cms were unbearably awful. I had been framing the whole ordeal like a marathon, thinking I could cope with the pain. But it wasn't anything like a marathon, unless there are marathons where at every mile a body part is sawed off and no pain medicine is administered. I have never felt so out of control in my life. I'm fairly certain I could have been declared legally insane.
In addition, I was getting dehydrated. I had been vomiting everything I took in and was hysterical sobbing that I couldn't do it - I was so tired. I was given stadol, which helped my outlook on the world enormously. It allowed me to sleep for about an hour and made the contractions manageable. I had the weirdest dreams though - like Alice in Wonderland kind of stuff. There was a bald man with a green suit who looked like Fred from I Love Lucy. We were in a concert hall filled with empty chairs. When I had a contraction, one of the chairs would turn a color. I asked what it was - "oh that's a contraction, but it's not yours". The drug, it was good.
The next few hours passed with me in good spirits - which is not right for someone in active labor. At 2.30am we found out why - I was still at 5cm - stalled. The midwife decided to break my waters and get things moving. That's when the fun really began. The pain was beyond anything could be put into words. It was like being on a ride that had gone wildly out of control. At this point, I was screaming for help, that I was going to die and couldn't take it anymore. I wanted to go home and threw myself on the floor, trying to tear the IV out of my arm. I started begging for an epidural. My husband and doula were telling me "you can do it" but I started screaming "I don't WANT to do it!" The pain was terrorizing - when I wasn't going through it, I knew it would come back just as bad in seconds.
And fuck Lamaze. That was a COMPLETE waste of time and money. The little "tricks" I was taught to deal with the "rushes" HA laughable. I wanted out.
So an hour and 40 minutes after my bag of waters was broken, the midwife and nurse came in with a wheelchair to bring me upstairs to labor and delivery for sweet release. Unfortunately, the pain had changed. When I saw them I yelled "I have to PUSH!". They checked my cervix - I was at 10cm. Dilated FIVE cm in less than 2 hours. Yeah, the very definition of pain, right there.
So now I'm pushing on contractions. The medical staff checks my abdomen for contractions and the baby's heartbeat, husband administers cold compresses and I keep yelling for them all to stop touching me. I had read that pushing is a relief. LIE! It's different, but extraordinarily painful just the same. They ask if I want a mirror. No. Pictures of the delivery? No. What do I want? To go home, for the horror to be over. The baby? Who cares!
One hour to crown and then...another hour to get the head out. James and I were instructed to place our hands under the armpits and pull him out. So now my gray-blue little baby boy is lying on top of me, my husband is sobbing and kissing me and I am just numb. I don't care about anything but that the pain is over. I had no reaction to having him there. I had dreamed about the day I would hold my Monkey in my arms, and my reaction was empty, cold, indifferent. Ah, the beauty of natural childbirth.
I wanted to be truthful here about what my experience was like for me, because it took me days to get over the betrayal I felt. I felt as though I had been lied to by birth mothers. My birth experience was horrible, the pain - which "legitimized" the process - was so awful that it left me devoid of all feeling for my newborn. I still feel guilty about it - I don't know that I'll ever get over feeling that way. I've since spoken to other women who feel guilty about their own experiences - for having an epidural and experiencing little pain, for having a c-section. It's so sad that we are burdened with this emotional baggage after having to bear the physical ordeal of our lives.
But it's over. And he's here. My heart has been torn wide open.