This picture was taken the evening of June 2nd, three days before I (miracles of miracles) went into labor by myself, one day before my due date.
When I look at this picture, the thing that comes back to me is:
It was with me almost constantly from February to June.
And a few days after having little Benjamin, suddenly I realized: it left the moment he popped out. And it may have been connected to the fact that he was a whopping 9 lbs 3 oz. Just maybe.
Now I can sleep again, sit without grimacing, and don’t have to drape my back with hot rice bags on a nightly basis. Alice was so used to this routine that one night, when she was fishing for excuses to call us into her room when she was supposed to be sleeping, she said to my husband, “Daddy, my back hurts, so I need a rice bag.”
And by the way, going back to Benjamin’s birth, the phrase ‘popped out’ is not ironic, but totally applicable: he came out in three contractions.
Yes, three contractions. I know–it’s the stuff of dreams.
In fact, by the beginning of the second contraction they said, ‘oh, there’s his head!’
Already? I almost exclaimed, but then I didn’t, because the epidural had turned me into a Zen goddess and instead I probably just smiled serenely.
Let’s just say that I had a blast giving birth–after the epidural kicked in (during the last hour or so–there was some hell before that to get those first 7 centimeters accomplished, including a most dreadful walk from the parking garage to the hospital itself).
But giving birth to him with drugs was a complete 180 from my horror story of having Alice au naturel. (If you have yet to be scarred by my story, well, you may be the happier for it. Then again, you might just feel so relieved by the end of it that it’s not happening to you at this very moment, that it might make you happier to read it after all. Only you can be the judge.)
I liken my experience giving birth to Benjamin to relaxing in a spa.
I got the epidural about an hour into transition, when the suffering was starting to reach a fever pitch–and then an angel with a needle showed up. For anyone afraid of needles, let me tell you: when you’re in transition, that awful phase of labor that sucks you in, chew you up into a pulp and spits you out, you don’t care about any amount of needles. They could have stuck me with four needles at once–heck, four hundred needles–and I wouldn’t have cared. Big needles, long needles–whatever. Heck, make it the length of a hand–or an arm! As long as it puts the drugs into my spine as quickly as possible. Normally I’m a needle wuss and feel a little faint when I get blood drawn. But in this context, I was like, ‘jam that in there!’ because I wanted the pain relief so badly.
And then, the epidural worked–first on only half my body, but when I turned on my side, it flooded into the other side as well. Aaaaah. Sweet relief.
I took a nap for a whole, magical hour.
When I woke up, someone said, “Alright! You’re ten centimeters–it’s time to push!”
Two wonderful, encouraging ladies (one nurse, one midwife) calmly stood there saying, “okay, push now!” So I pushed–while feeling no pain. They cooed, “Oooh, good job! There’s his head!”
By the way, there’s his head–
–in another context, of course. It came out nice and round because he flew out of there so fast.
Anyway, there’s a profound irony in being told ‘good job’ when there’s nothing hard about what you’re doing. I mean, just compare that to my experience with Alice, when I was doing the hardest thing I’ve done in my life, and giving my all to push her out while experiencing the agonies of what felt like a torture chamber. Then no one was telling me ‘good job.’ Then it was more like, ‘push harder!’ And ‘stop yelling! You’re wasting energy! Grunt deep, like this!’ and furious shouts of ‘COME ON, COME ON, COME ON, KEEP GOING!’ and “COME ON JENNA!!!”
I’ll take the soothing, approving ‘good job’ in the hospital/spa any day. Also, did I mention that I only swore, like, twice (in a quiet whisper, too) instead of at least two hundred times AT A THUNDEROUS SHOUT? Yep. That encapsulates the difference between the two experiences, all right.
When we were taking our Bradley Method natural birthing class the summer before Alice was born, sitting on yoga mats in the intense heat that had descended on Chicago that year and learning from a wonderful woman named Denise about the wonders of natural birth, I never thought I would say this. But now, I will.
(I’m sorry, Denise.)
Drugs = magic
Happy Monday from this little man who turned 1 month old yesterday.