As visceral as the childbirth experience was for me — twice — I have a lot of gaps in my memories of it. I would love to go back and ask myself some things about giving birth, especially now that I’m more than nine years past the first time I did it. I can recall the lighting and how part of the overhead fluorescent bulb was out, and the painting that hung across from my hospital bed, especially since I had the same delivery room with both my kids. However, there are some details I’ve blanked out on, and I’d love to know them so I can have a fuller picture of the most life-defining episodes of my time on Earth so far.
I remember the reclining chair my husband slept in while we waited for my cervix to ripen overnight. I remember hoping I wasn’t peeing after they inserted a catheter post-epidural. I remember Life in a Northern Town was playing when my daughter entered the world. I even remember asking to see my placenta and being rather impressed that I grew this whole other organ that served my gestating fetus before it was born.
Still, while those memories are impressive and worth hanging onto, all those things don’t complete the picture of the childbirth experience for me. So here are some questions I want to ask myself about giving birth, 9 years after living through it. If only I knew the answers.
Was I Good At It?
I know I’m really letting my Type A personality flag fly here, but I’d like to think I gave birth well. I would have no idea how a physician would qualify a birth, but there has got to be a grading system, right?
Otherwise, how would I get my self-esteem up in the moment when I’m huffing and puffing, red-faced, in a backwards hospital-issue muumuu with several people peering between my legs?
How Long Did I Go Without Eating...
The bummer about delivering in the hospital was that I couldn’t eat anything (other than ice, which is technically not a food). So if you add up all the time I spent getting induced and riding out the increasingly more intense contractions before finally getting that epidural, and then waiting until I was fully dilated to then start pushing, which lasted about 18 minutes (this I remember), what are we looking at here?
… And Did I Set A Record?
I’m sure I didn’t set a world record, but I’m guessing I might have set a personal record for going as long as I did without eating while not suffering from a stomach virus. This is remarkable for me, because I’m a fan of food.
Did It Hurt?
I’m sure it hurt, but I can’t get a sense of what giving birth actually felt like, even though I know I felt it. While I did have an epidural to counter the torture of the violent contractions I was experiencing as a result of my induction, it had mostly worn off by the time I was ready to push. There is no way that pushing was pain-free. I just can’t describe what I was feeling.
I guess that’s why I had another child. I was clearly not dissuaded on account of the pain.
Did I Poop?
I still wonder, to this day, if anything other than a baby came out of me during labor. My last meal before giving birth to my daughter was a very spicy Thai noodle dish with a lot of roughage. You know what, let’s not think about it. I don't want to know. Moving on.
What Did I Say?
While I’m an introvert, I’m also a control freak. I like things done a certain way, and I am not often shy about giving people suggestions. Did I have any demands while in the throes of labor? While under the influence of Pitocin, and the raging contractions it brought on, I’m sure I let a few choice words fly. I guess if I really wanted to know if I said anything I would have asked my husband by now. Maybe he’s saving me from embarrassment by not talking about whatever it is I talked about while giving birth. I was in labor for a day so, yeah, I wonder what we discussed.
What Did Other People Say?
It’s not like I had a ton of folks around me, but there was the doctor and a couple of labor and delivery nurses, and my husband of course, but I can’t recall what any of them said. I’d like to think they congratulated me or told me I did a good job. Unfortunately my husband has no memory of that either.
How Did I Find Out The Baby’s Gender?
We didn’t want to know what we were having before I gave birth, so I had been anticipating the announcement of the baby’s gender forever. Now, I have no clue what the doctor said, or if he just showed me my daughter so I could figure it out with a visual, or if my husband exclaimed if we had a boy or a girl. I waited my whole pregnancy for my answer, and the memory of that moment has completely disappeared. #mommybrain
Who Did I Call First?
Was it my parents? My BFF? I know I talked to a bunch of people that night, but I can’t recall in what order. I’m leaning toward my mom, and then she called my dad, who was working. In fact, let’s go on record as my mother being the first to know about our first child, because she watches our kids three times a week and I really don’t want to rock that boat.
Why Didn’t I Spring For The Private Recovery Room?
I gave birth at the hospital where Beyoncé brought Blue Ivy into the world. She had a private room. I did not. It’s expensive. However, in hindsight, I think it might have been worth it. I only can say that because when I returned to that same hospital to have my second child, it was on a holiday weekend. Even though I was in a shared room, I never got a roommate. It was blissfully more conducive to actually recovering. There was no other body moving around, or that person’s baby being brought in at exactly different times than when my baby was brought to me.
I don’t remember sleeping at all in my shared recovery room, the curtain between the two beds a laughable shield from the crying and conversation and painful peeing happening on the other side of the room when I had my daughter. When I had my son, I enjoyed the quiet, and having the bathroom to myself, and not feeling bad if he was pitching a fit while I was trying to wipe the stubbornly, sticky meconium off his tiny butt. Spending the money on the private room would have stung, but I think it would have really helped me in recovery. We thought we were doing the right thing, and we were, financially. But emotionally, I would have benefited from more privacy in those first 48 hours as a mom.