Heat. That’s the part I remember the most. In all of the videos I had watched and books I had read about labor and delivery, nothing had prepared me for just how hot I would get in that triage room. My husband ran ice chips from a Styrofoam cup down my bare back and they melted instantly, rivulets of lukewarm water mingling with my sweat, pouring off of me.
Vomit. I was more prepared for that part, because I knew it happened to some people. But I wasn’t prepared to run to the sink every few minutes to dry heave. I emptied my stomach over the shallow metal basin the first few times and then dry heaves that I could feel from my toes to my nose wracked my body and brought me to that sink time and again over twenty hours of labor.
Pain. This was the part I prepared for the most. I am a researcher. I make lists. I wrote a birth plan that was four pages long. It had pictographs. But nothing can prepare the body and mind for the pain of bringing a new life into the world. Lying down with a fetal monitor wrapped round my enormous belly, each contraction brought a fresh feeling of a white, hot knife jamming into my lower back.
Occiput posterior position. It’s a fancy medical term for describing fetuses who are malpositioned, trying to come into the world with their back aligned to the mother’s back, rather than belly-to-back with their mother. Tell me what that means, I demanded of the triage nurse. Tell me what that means for me.
Long, hard labor. That's what it meant. It meant going back home from the hospital because my son wouldn’t be born that night. Maybe the next day, they said. Take a Benadryl and go to bed. Get some rest.
Exhaustion. No allergy pill was going to bring me the sleep I so desperately craved. Holding on to one post of our four poster bed, I stood and rocked, back and forth, back and forth. I bit my lip until it bled. I called my mother, tried to assuage her worries about me, her oldest baby, approaching the wide chasm that separates mothers from the rest, my body preparing me to take that blind leap into motherhood through a great gush of water and blood.
Begging. Pleading with my husband to take me back to the hospital, promising that I thought it was really time now, I mean really, really time, to go and bring his son into the world. Writing under “reason for visit” in a shaky hand: I AM IN LABOR AND NEED MY BABY OUT NOW. Gritting my teeth and bracing my legs against intruding fingers, biting back tears upon hearing those hateful words: you aren’t ready yet. It isn’t time.
Hardheadedness. Too tired and sore to stomp my foot, too much of a lady to shake my fist, I raise my voice against the cacophony of monitor beeps and hallway pacing and laughter from the nurse’s station and demand. Intake me now. I am not going home. I will have this baby in your waiting room if I have to.
Relief. It floods through my limbs as they push me in a wheelchair to the labor and delivery room. My message has been heard, loud and clear. I am having my baby today, against this room’s backdrop of beige and ugly floral curtains. Almost on cue, I stand up in this room where I’ll meet my son, and feel a flood of liquid from between my legs, very much like the burst of a water balloon. The midwife nods knowingly, writes something on her clipboard, but she and I both know I made this happen, I demanded to be wheeled to this room. I am in control of this birth.
Transition. I read about it in books, where I saw it described as riding waves. But none of my books showed mothers on their hands and knees, naked in the hospital room floor. This was my position of choice as I tuned out my husband talking quietly in the corner, the light and colors of the small, beige room blurring together as my body worked to bring my child closer to birth. I witnessed this very much as a spectator only. I felt no pain, only wave after wave moving through me as my body strained and groaned of its own volition.
Push. No one told me to do so, but my body knew when it was time. I alerted no one, because no one existed in the universe at that moment. Not the nurses, not the midwife, not my husband, not some higher power using my body to bring new life forth. No. The miracle worker was me, myself and my child, as we worked together in perfect tandem to deliver him into this world. Someone noticed that I was in the throes of delivery. I don’t know how I got from the floor to the bed. I gripped the cool, metal headboard until my knuckles turned white, bearing down with mighty force until
Cries. My husband whoops with joy, the nurses congratulate, and through the din of voices, one wails louder than all the rest. I turn onto my back and take my son against my chest, that time-honored instinct taking over as I scan him, checking that he is unhurt and well, simultaneously soothing in a hushed, awed voice:
Shh. Shh. Your mother is here.
About the Creator
I'm a wife and mom, and this is my creative outlet. I am experimenting with lots of different writing styles and topics, so some of it is garbage, and I'm totally fine with that - writing is cheaper than therapy. Thanks for stopping by!