When I was 24 I got married. Yay!
When I was 28 I got pregnant. Yay!
Wait. Pregnancy means labor and delivery.
By this time I had not only lots of TV scenes stored away in my mental folder of why-childbirth-is-terrifying, but also lots of stories from friends about how they thought they were going to die and the doctor had to use pliers to yank the baby out and everything was blood and gore and stitches and poo. My body was a ticking time bomb. The baby would only grow. And then he'd need to come out.
I decided early on that I wanted an epidural. Yes please! I said. Sign me up for all the drugs! Get some from Mexico! Pump me full of all the things! But in the hospital's labor prep class, they were pretty focused on delivering babies "naturally." "Naturally" means without drugs. But I didn't plan to use a robot to deliver my baby so I was confused about why epidurals were not considered natural. "It's your journey!" They said. "Do what's best for you!" They said. But it sounded more like "Epidurals are for the weak and small minded. Here, sit on this huge bouncy ball and feel at one with your baby chute." I took home lots of pamphlets and leaned on google for how epidurals worked.
When you ask people about their experiences with epidurals, you hear a wide variety of stories. "Mine only worked on half my body!" "Mine wore off before it was time to push!" "I waited too long to get an epidural so I had to have the baby 'naturally'." This last one was my biggest fear. What if my baby was on an express train and didn't give me time to be properly drugged? That would be a real jerk move and start our relationship off with some serious resentment from me.
Time passed and I got larger and larger. Here's a good place to remind you what not to say to pregnant women:
"How many babies are in there?"
"Wow, you've really let yourself go!"
"You've had one too many beers lately!"
"You look huge!"
If you say any of these things, you are legally not allowed to get mad if she decides you run you over with her car. It's in the constitution. The founding fathers knew what's up.
My due date came!
My due date went.
Oh dear. He was due October 26 and I really didn't want to have a Halloween baby. I didn't want him associated with skeletons and spooky crap for the rest of his life. My doctor had already told me I was dilated to a one and that my cervix looked very favorable. "Oh stoppit," I blushed.
Score! No Halloween baby. But at this point we were 5 days overdue and every time I called my mom to ask if she was using my Netflix she thought I was having the baby. Each conversation was a tiny disappointment to us both.
Then on November 1st at 3am, I woke up feeling like I was having menstrual cramps. This is it! I thought. I opened an app on my phone that tracked contractions and waited for them to be one minute long every five minutes for one hour. At 5am I woke Austin up.
"I'm in labor!" I said.
"Cool." He grumbled. "Wake me up when it's time to go to the hospital."
"Just did." I said.
At this point, my number one focus was getting that epidural. I wasn't going to be one of those lolly gaggers who missed their golden window for sweet sweet drugs. Austin and I showered and got packed up. I did my hair and makeup because I knew there would be photos and I didn't want to look like Swamp Thing's Christmas card when everyone was passing around photos of the new baby. Side note: when I was a kid my brothers used to call me Swamp Thing when they wanted me to get mad and it was effective.
We arrived at the hospital and I was like "Hi I'm having a baby can I please have an epidural." And they were like "I'm just the parking guy." And so I asked everyone we spoke to until we were set up in our hospital room and the nurse was like, "You've still got a while before it's time for an epidural." But she's not a fortune teller and WHAT IF MY BABY DECIDES TO POP OUT IN THE NEXT 30 MINUTES???
Turns out she was right. I had many, many more hours before my baby would be sliding into first. Sliding out of the dugout? Stealing first base. Hitting a foul ball. Any of those things really because he wasn't going to be born for a super long time.
The first thing they had to do was hook me up to 10,000 IVs and monitors and blood pressure cuffs and I remember thinking about my sister-in-law who said that some people don't like epidurals because they can't stand up and move around. Well I was connected to my bed by 10,000 little tubes so I didn't really feel like taking a walk was an option.
Seven years later my doctor came in, looked at my baby garden and decided that I was progressing slowly and left.
Seven MORE years later, he came back and stuck a crochet needle in to break my water. Did I know this was happening? NOPE. But suddenly everything was very wet and warm.
Bad news, they said. The baby had a bowel movement in the womb and they were worried he was going to breathe it in. I thought this might be good because starting out life by breathing in your own poo means things can only get better. When he gets discouraged about not being picked for dodgeball I'll say "Remember when you breathed in your own poo?" and he'll say "No." and I'll say "Well I do and it was disgusting so every day you get to breathe air is a gift." and he'll probably go talk to his dad instead.
But they remedied the problem by hooking me up to more tubes and "flushing out" my uterus, which probably felt like a lovely jacuzzi for the baby but for me it felt like I was peeing non-stop for about 12 hours. The nurses handed me some towels and left.
Time was ticking and still no one had given me drugs. "WHAT AM I, A PIONEER WOMAN?" I may have shouted at no one. But the nurse seemed to think that my baby was going to take 10 more years to come out and that by that time I wouldn't want an epidural because I would be worried about more important things like paying for his college.
Luckily Austin brought his laptop and Netflix is a thing. We watched Moana and Trolls. I peed all the way through both of them. The nurse kept looking at my bleep bloops and saying I wasn't in active labor yet. OH YEAH?? I wanted to yell. But yelling would make the pee come out faster and I was already running out of towels.
Finally, they said I was just progressing too slowly. "We're giving you pitocin, so now is a good time to get that epidural." Well hallelujah! Go get that needle, y'all!
They didn't let me see the needle and made Austin sit down really far away so he wouldn't pass out. I was a little worried about sneezing while they were putting the needle in my spine so I thought really hypo-allergenic thoughts. Once everything was all situated they handed me a little button like I was a contestant on Jeopardy. "You control the pain. When you press this button it will increase the epidural. You may want to let it wear off a bit when it comes time to push so you can really feel what's going on." I thanked them for my game show drug button and felt my legs disappear.
Then I drank a bunch of Sierra Mist.
Then I took a nap.
Then I woke up and threw up all the Sierra Mist.
15 years later it was time to push.
"Remember," Austin said. "Try not to press the button. Let the epidural wear off a little so you can feel the pushing part."
"Ok." I said and pressed the button.
It was time for me to experience what I'd seen on TV so many times. Screaming and cursing and crying and yelling all my most controversial opinions because no one will judge you while you're pushing out a baby.
Except it wasn't? My doctor took his sweet time getting dressed and washing his hands and I was like "ARE WE WAITING FOR ME BECAUSE I'M READY." And everyone had a good chuckle.
I pushed for an hour and a half and at 11:49pm Rory Austin Dekle was born. They suctioned out his lungs (because of the whole poo-breathing thing) and handed him to me.
We did it, I thought. And it was nothing like the TV shows. It was our story, a story that was new and different from any other delivery ever.
|Look how good my hair looks.|