After attempting to get labor started by walking, spicy food, sex, bouncing on an exercise ball all day at work, positive thinking (“My cervix is dilating… My cervix is dilating…”) and more walking, on my due date, my doctor decided it would be best to go ahead and induce me, since she thought I might be developing hypertension. That night, I went home, watched documentaries on Netflix, and went to sleep. When I returned to the doctor in the morning to be checked prior to the induction, I was dilated to three centimeters. Screw walking – clearly, reverse psychology is the best way to get labor started, naturally.
Late Wednesday night, I was checked into the hospital and started on oxytocin. On Thursday afternoon at 1:10, I gave birth to our son. In between, there were three unsuccessful attempts to insert the epidural before the desired effect was achieved, an infinite number of probings, a little bit of magical, IV pain medication-induced sleep, and about forty minutes of pushing accompanied by lots of “Is the head out yet? Let us see! Ooh, it’s so tiny! You mean that’s only the top of his head?! Oh my god, he’s almost out! Push harder! Get mad!!!” from my sister and baby daddy, my appointed labor coaches.
All told, the time I spent recovering in the hospital was far more painful than either labor or delivery. Especially on the first day, during which the numbing effects of the epidural had worn off and we received about a hundred and two visitors when all I wanted to do was hold the baby and try not to bleed on… everything. I was also scared shitless – not of being a new mom, but of the inevitability of having to touch my own vagina again. I seriously thought it might make a sound like the Ring Wraiths on Lord of the Rings, but, after putting off showering for a good day and a half, I finally felt around down there and discovered that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined. The cramping that felt like all the worst periods I’ve ever had rolled into one and multiplied by a thousand was actually far worse than the pain in my mangled ladyparts, but I’m pretty much down with my uterus shrinking back to its regular size, so I can’t complain too much.
My biggest postpartum problem, so far, is the spinal headache caused by the anesthesiologist inserting the needle just a little too far on one of those four glorious attempts, causing me to lose a little bit of the spinal fluid supporting my brain, which now sags (and throbs) when I sit or stand. It’s just as sexy as it sounds, but, supposedly, it will go away on its own in a few days.
My other biggest postpartum problem has been my boobs. When other women warned me about cracked, bleeding nipples and rock-hard, over-filled breasts, I thought they were exaggerating, but, no. Fortunately, I have an awesome girlfriend who was kind enough to lend me her Super-Mega-Ultra-Power Electric Breast Pump 5000 (seriously… this device is king among tit-sucking devices), which has now saved me, on several occasions, from crying hysterically while I breastfeed an infant who really should not be physically able to suck that hard, and also from crying hysterically while my miserable boobs fill up with enough milk to feed triplets. But I digress.
All told, I would say that my birth experience was wonderful. The pain was managed to my satisfaction, I received great support, I felt like an active participant, and, ultimately, I was able to successfully expel a healthy human infant out of my body. To me, that qualifies as a great success. A success to which, finally, I can propose a toast. I’ll drink to that!