Now breathe, and hold …. and push it out slowly …..

OK, so a wonderful mommy site that I love to hang out on has started a new thing – Topic of the Week – a way cool way to kind of kick start a conversation, or series of them…. And this week, in light of the mondo-hugo baby born recently, the topic is Birth Stories.

Now, I have to admit, my first thought was, “I am not sticking my damn birth story on my blog. It may be a personal blog, but it ain’t just another mommy blog, dammit!”

Then I thought about it some more, and realized it could be fun… But I’m not talking about what special thoughts were sailing through my head at that moment (ahhh… PAIN!!! PAIN!!!! PAAAAINNNNN!!!!!) or anything like that… Nope. That’s just not my kinda thing.

I’ve had two kids, and I have to admit, if I truly, honestly recalled everything about the first time, there would never have been a second. But I love my munchkins, so … I’m glad I had selective memory I guess.

Time one – I was the typical First Time Preggo Babe: wore maternity clothes the instant my skinny little jeans quit buttoning, loved showing off my little bump of a tummy, listened intently all during my birthing classes and dutifully practiced all the breathing and focusing exercises.

Did you notice that last part? I listened and practiced! Dammit! I was going to have this baby without the aid of any artificial anything. It was the trend in our church – all the ladies were going with the “natural” options. I even read books by “experts” who talked about God’s plan for natural birth, and everything. I was ready. (mind you – those “experts” all seemed to be men… or women who had their kids when “natural” wasn’t really an option… That shoulda been a clue!)

I especially listened when the coach said something along the lines of – this is your first baby, it’s going to be HOURS of labor. You’ll get to a new stage, and it will be hard, but it will go on long enough that you can get accustomed to it before you move on to the next stage. Labor isn’t like a freight train, it moves along slowly, and you can flow with that.

OK – yeah. I kept that in my head. I was figuring one 24-plus hours of ordeal. I was psyched up for a full-day of work, or more. Every woman I knew had at least 24 hours, most were more like 30 – 36 and that was before they even started pushing, OK? This is what I was ready for.

Now, if someone had told me the truth, that labor would hit me like a speeding freight train, with no brakes and a non-stop, one-way ticket to 11 hours and 42 minutes of hell, I’d have had a different mind set.

Oh yeah – that was it. From first contraction to delivery was a grand total of 11:42.

When my mother got to my house and saw me kneeling on the floor, tightly griping the ottoman in an attempt to “breath through” the latest contraction, she took one look and said, “uhmmm… I think you should have already left for the hospital. This is NOT early labor.”

When I got to the hospital and they listened to my frantic, strained “labor breathing”, they told me to slow down, I had hours to go yet. Then they checked my progress (a fun procedure where a nurse with hands the size of catcher’s mitts shoves what amounts to her entire arm up a cavity that has never had anything larger than the average male part in it and then she pokes around “gently” to see how far dilated you are…)

When the nurses and docs who “check your progress” suddenly get wide eyed and call for the room to be readied for birth STAT, you know there’s an issue.

This is when the “pushing” begins. Oh what fun.

Funner still is when the midwife leaves you in the care of the floor nurse, saying, “Oh, we’ll see you in about two hours or so. Bye.” And then 20 minutes later, the floor nurse tells you to STOP pushing (yeah, right, as if I have a choice now?) while she frantically gets the midwife BACK to your room. Said midwife had figured she could take a lunch break, whoops.

After 10 fun minutes of NOT pushing, finally, all is ready and 12 minutes later, my baby girl is born.

Oh, did I go natural? Hell no! When they told me how fast it was going, all thoughts of “getting accustomed” to each stage and “breathing through” and “flowing with it” flowed right out the window and I said: epi, NOW!

And silly me, I thought it was so fun that 2 years and 7 months later, I gave birth again.

This time, I vowed, would be different. The second I knew it was “hard” labor I’d be going in. I wanted an epi the second it got bad. I wasn’t going through hell again, and I wasn’t worried about slowing down that particular freight train either.

Time two found me sitting up watching the cats play cat-and-mouse games with a mouse they had caught and waiting for the contractions to get bad. For five hours, I waited … each time they hit, it was no big deal. They were easy. Nothing to worry about.

Then, the freight train came in and I was on my knees puking from the pain. A short and frantic 30 minute ride later, the nurse was hollering for the doc so they could numb me up before I got too far along to do anything other than grin and bear it.

Happily numbed, I endured the processional of people “checking my progress” (is that really necessary? Is there not some kinder, gentler way?)

Apparently, nobody told my body that an epidural is supposed to slow things down and once again, the staff was scrambling to get the room ready for my little arrival.

This time, they decided to sit me up and tell me to start pushing and whoops! Never mind, stop now! Baby is on the way… Doc! Now!

My son popped out in literally two pushes and promptly peed all over everyone present, with the doc declaring, “Well, we know that system works.”

From start to finish, including my five hours of sitting at home watching the cats chase a mouse, it was eight hours.

I figured I’d better not have a third, or I’d be popping the kid out on my kitchen floor or something.