I have seriously been trying to record this birth account for a week now. (It's amazing how little free time I have with four children and a Starling). But FINALLY- I'm DONE!
(aka Belize Analie Johnson)
I was all set to give birth via induction on Friday the 13th of May. (A promising omen, wouldn't you say)? That would have jammed my little pumpkin between Brighton turning five on May 12 and Brooklyn turning seven on May 14. (If you are wondering about Boeing- he turned three on Christmas Eve- amazingly my only child to successfully evade our family birthing month). The scheduled induction would have been only a few days before her due date on May 18.
Perhaps patience is something I should work on, amongst just a few other things, but pregnancy is, and I mean this with all the gratitude for the ability to carry a child into this world, the single most excruciating physical ailment I've endured in my life. (At least I thought so, anyway).
All of my pregnancies have been equally agonizing, what with the fifty pound weight gains, nine months of puking, and sciatic nerve issues that made me feel like I was walking around with a knife stuck in my left buttock, but this last pregnancy was an over-achiever in the torture department.
It's never a good idea to start out a pregnancy with Chikungunya, a mosquito spread virus that put me bed ridden for... well that's a good question since I have no idea when it's wretched symptoms passed and pregnancy started... but it definitely took a toll on me. And despite the fact that I got no magical Zofran to assist with my vomiting, I still gained my normal 50 pounds. Maybe even more. (You understand my lack of zealousness in mounting the scale to know the "true" number. After gaining fifty, I figured I didn't WANT to know). To put it simply, I was miserable in my own skin. (And my husband tried to tell me lots of people are miserable in their own skin, at which point I had to clarify that lots of people don't have a baby trying to KICK themselves free through their bellybutton. And the women who DO completely empathize with my excessive whining).
I won't be shy about the fact that I was QUITE disappointed when my doctor told me the EARLIEST she could induce was a mere five days early. I wanted my adorable, precious KONG FU kicking Ninja OUT of me. As I lay in my bed night after night AWAKE (because who can sleep when your insides are trying to escape) watching my stomach stand up, twist, and slam into my bladder, while several other bumps jerked to a fro leaving me with the sweet sensation of mutilated innards, I took it upon myself to progress my labor. Against my very sympathetic (that is sarcasm in its purest form) husband's wishes, I procured a bottle of castor oil.
I selected a Friday, so as not to put out my Mom who would need to assist with my three already-out-of-me children. I poured two ounces of oil into some cold grape juice, plugged my nose, and chugged.
If you want to know how castor oil tastes, next time you're frying chicken, take a nice long swig of your GREESE, and tell me what you think.
At that point, labor or no labor, no way was I going to drink more. (I am actually gagging just remembering the delectable consistency).
Even though I made excuses to save myself trips from having to walk to the other side of my house, that Friday night (May 6th) I waddled out of my front door around 9 p.m. in my walking shorts. I was on a mission. I secured my gut firmly in both hands and sped walked up and down the road by my house (which is no short walk on a NON- prego day), up and down the hills, back and forth until I figured I was so tired, I'd sleep through the next few weeks of pregnancy.
Frustrated that neither the castor oil nor the walking caused me to have so much as a contraction, I sauntered to the shower, then fell into bed, my emphatic woes meeting Starling's snoring. (Which cheered me up immensely).
At some point during the night I woke up with mild, but consistent contractions. I jumped up (after several attempts, of course) with glee, recognizing that I was going into labor. I bounced to the bathroom and shaved my legs, painted my fingers and toes... cleaned both bathrooms and the kitchen, all the while smiling ear to ear.
Then I realized that I hadn't felt the baby move in a bit. As I thought about it, I realized she hadn't even moved when I'd shaved my legs which was simply impossible because anytime I attempted even the slightest bend the baby would protest and stretch her body until I would eventually give up. (It had been so long since I'd attempted a good shave, I almost needed to secure a mower to get through the hair growth on my legs). So I drank some cold juice. (That usually sent her to squirming). Nothing. I had a mild panic attack and started whacking Starling awake.
"The baby isn't moving and I need them to check her. NOW!" Then, "Don't wake the kids. It's too early and I've got awhile before I'm going to HAVE her... Just I need to go. When it's daylight we can get my mom to get the kids and you can come."
While I filled out paper work at the hospital, the baby turned a summersault, enough to kick the paper from my hands.
"You said your baby isn't moving?" The lady checking me in asked.
"Oh! She moved! Okay. I'm good. I'll come back in a few hours once I put some make up on and fix my hair."
"Well, let's just check while you're here. You said you are having contractions."
"I am. But I have awhile before the "REAL" bad ones start."
But I rode a wheelchair, by direct order, feeling absolutely ridiculous, upstairs to a room to be "checked." (That's code for denouncing your dignity and handing over your self-respect).
Two massive elastic bands were strapped around my waist (or what once resembled a waist) and I was left for dead. For hours. (Well probably like 30 minutes, but the REAL contractions started almost simultaneously with being left and there was no one around to tell. So I laid there. In agony. But I knew they still weren't the REAL, REAL ones).
A doctor finally arrived, prepared to send me home, judging by the nurses introduction of, "but the contractions aren't very..."
"Yes! Yes they are-" I breathed. "I'd like an epidural now!" The nurse scrunched her face and re-adjusted the bands that the baby had kicked loose moments after she'd fastened them into place.
"OH! Oh wow... okay. Sorry. The contractions weren't registering on the monitor."
The doctor checked me and said, "Let's get her to a room. She's about to have this baby."
I texted Starling to tell him they were moving me to a room and NOT to send the cavalry until AFTER I'd received my epidural. (I was entering HOT MESS status and barely holding it together).
I was barely admitted when Starling showed up with my mom and kids on his heels. (Meet my family. We excel in the "listening" department).
Starling took the moment to teach our children about childbirth, as any astounding home-school parent would. "See how mommy is hurting so bad? So bad she can't talk? What is happening inside her is called a contraction... When-"
I was gripping the hand rail so tight, I'm surprised I didn't rip it off. That was nothing compared to what I wanted to do to Starling's vocal chords at that moment. "Seriously Starling?!?"
And then piped up my mother. APOLOGIES to the staff. "She's a little bit dramatic. She has no pain tolerance. She gets that from her dad."
Yes. It's true. I am a drama queen. There I was in the hospital ACTING as if I was in LABOR or something.
I should've silently DIED with more composure.
"When is the epidural coming?" I winced, trying very hard to NOT sound dramatic. With all my effort, it still came across like the final plea before one gives up the ghost. (And if I'm being honest... The whole giving up the ghost thing was sounding like a viable option. That or taking some ghosts from some people in the room).
"We are getting everything ready. Just a few more minutes," the nurse chirped merrily.
She gave me a dose of Stadol, which does zilch for pain, but is supposed to dope you up enough to not care. (Umm... I still cared. I just sounding like a drunk person trying to wine about it).
The nurse walked out and only my husband, mother, and three chatting children remained. Though I'd tried very hard to keep my teeth clenched and muffle my moans, I gave up and screamed,
"SOMETHING IS HAPPENING!!!!!" when I felt intense pressure- like a car trying to exit a garage with the door closed. I WAS THE GARAGE DOOR. I screamed as I heard, yes HEARD and FELT a loud POP. It was my water breaking. It thoroughly FREAKED me out. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING compared to the fear that consumed me when the nurse ran in and said, "Uh oh. We don't have time for an epidural. This baby is coming out."
No epidural? NO EPIDURAL?!?!?!
Women train for natural child birth like they train for marathons. Have you ever heard of someone who has never jogged up and run a marathon??? NO! OF COURSE NOT!
Sure, women HAVE babies without drugs and have for years. SOME women CHOOSE to do it! They learn how to breath, take those Lamaze classes, practice hee-hee-hooing.
I didn't do ANY of that because I didn't NEED to. I have epidurals. I don't LIKE pain. Epidurals are little miracles. They take all the pain away and I just smile and talk and watch a baby pop out. That's MY choice.
I have since been congratulated on my "natural" childbirth. "I'm so glad you got to experience that!", "Isn't it the most beautiful thing?"
Ummm.... they must have trained for their marathon.
My experience was more like-, "I felt like I was being sacrificed!"
And that's exactly what I sounded like. A wild animal being sacrificed. I've never heard such a horrific sound, especially out of my own self. I didn't even know a human could MAKE that noise.
The sound coming out of me wasn't a scream. It was the guttural wail of a dying cat... Being burned alive. And for all the holding it in I'd done in the beginning... I made up for it by letting it ALL out at the end. Nothing can describe the pain. The only word that comes to mind? Excruciating. But that seems a rather mild adjective for such a NOT mild event.
I hollered all the way until the doctor, who heard me in another part of the hospital, ran in to tell me to stop screaming (RUDE. AND IMPOSSIBLE) and while my mother grabbed my three, now wide eyed, mouth a gaped children and shooed them out of the room, and on until the doctor finally said, "She's out!"
I couldn't even compute the little baby, now out of me. I was still trying to understand how I was still alive.
Then the doctor said, "I need you to push one more time."
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?" I yelled at him. No. He wasn't kidding. Once all the gross was out of me, I got stitched up, which, amazingly... STILL HURT.
How bad was it really? A total exaggeration on my part? Well... Starling asked the nurse after I had regained my composure, "On a scale of 1 to 10 on screams... was she like an 8 or a 9?" The nurse didn't hesitate. "Oh a definite ten. Yeah. Ten for sure."
Though my husband describes the event as, "the most beautiful, excruciating thing I've ever seen; the most exhilarating experience of my life!", if any mom- to- be asks for my humble opinion about having a life-altering, incredible, magical NATURAL child birth.... My response is simple.
GET THE EPIDURAL.