I spent a significant amount of my first pregnancy wondering what contractions would feel like,and whether or not I'd recognize them when they finally came. I never had (or noticed) Braxton Hicks contractions, so the closer my due date was the more it occupied my thoughts. If, like me, you're curious about what they feel like, and what the experience of labor feels like, allow me to share things every mom thinks when she's having contractions.
To be fair, I have heard stories of mystical women who never feel contractions, or describe them using significantly less intense adjectives than I would. I picture these women, like, meditating through labor and delivery, and then appearing impossible fresh-looking when it's all over. That was not my experience.
Oh no, dear reader. My experience was an electrifying cross between the feeling of my body turning itself inside out, and having an elephant sitting on my torso. With that description, you might be surprised I could form any thoughts at all, let alone recall them now. Believe me, I'm shocked, too. Childbirth really is a miracle. Allow me to share just a tad bit more about what it's like to experience one of the most obvious signs that you're in the midst of it:
"Is This What I Think It Is?"
Those first twinges were rather small blips on the radar, so I have to admit that I spent a lot of time laying in bed wondering if my contractions were, in fact, contractions.
Spoiler alert: they definitely were.
"OMG. TIME THIS. TIME THIS RIGHT NOW."
I still remember staring at the clock app on my phone in disbelief, realizing that what I still wasn’t sure were contractions, were actually coming at regular intervals. In other words, it was obvious we needed to go to the hospital. It was happening.
To call that moment surreal is an understatement, yet we somehow managed to get where we needed to be when we needed to be there.
"This Isn’t So Bad. I Can Handle This."
I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was bad and uncomfortable and not anything that I enjoyed, at first. However, it wasn't so bad that I couldn't walk around and hold a conversation. That part came later.
"Send Help, I’m Dying"
OK, maybe that's a slight exaggeration. But really, it went from “not awesome and kinda uncomfortable” to “terrible and excruciatingly horrible.” So, you know, not exactly the same thing. And, if anyone's allowed to exaggerate, it's a woman talking about childbirth.
Sorry, all. My son will have internet access someday so I'm not going to print the actual words I said at this particular point and time in the labor and delivery process, but just imagine what comes to mind when you stub your toe, and then multiply it by a damn million.
"It’s Going To Be Worth It, Right?"
Logically, I knew that, yes, going through 14 (more or less) hours of labor would be worth it if it meant bringing my son into the world. However, in those moments and when I was, um, slightly distracted by the contractions, it helped to have some reminders.
"I’m Never Doing This Again"
As a woman currently pregnant with her second child, all I can say to this is: oops? Look, I can't say that everything I thought in those moments was factually accurate. I'm just saying it happened.
"Wake Me Up When It’s Over"
Or, maybe not over, but like, maybe 10 seconds before it's over so I can experience just that last little bit, and then hold my baby.
"Who Am I? What Is Happening? What Is Life?"
Perhaps other women were able to stay more focused than I was at this particular moment in time, but I was actively trying to think about as little as possible when the contractions were at their peak.
"There Is No Possible Way That Women Are The Weaker Sex"
Just, no. I'm not saying men couldn't handle childbirth, but the simple fact that we know that women can should limit these arguments.