I have to be honest and admit: I'm not much of a planner. I mean, I try, and my ability to plan has definitely improved since becoming a mother. However, prior to my son entering the world, I wouldn't necessarily label myself a "ready-for-anything" kind of woman. So, it wasn't all that surprising that, when it came time to meet my son, there were things I wasn't prepared for when I started pushing. Crazy things. Painful things. Absolutely insane things that I cannot believe women are actually capable of doing. But I digress.
I had a very difficult pregnancy that I knew would end with a very difficult labor and delivery. I was initially pregnant with twins, but lost one in utero when I was 19 weeks pregnant. Directly after the doctor told me Twin A's heart was no longer beating, I was told I would have to birth a baby that would be alive, and a baby that wouldn't be. That demolished any preconceived notion I had of childbirth, so I had to go back to the proverbial drawing board. I changed my birth plan and accommodated for a larger possibility of complication, and was also just kinder to myself. I had already experienced so much pain, that if the pain of labor became too much, I knew I would allow myself the relief of an epidural.
So, epidural in place and after 20 hours of labor, I was ready to push. Then the "fun" really started. I wasn't prepared, to be sure, but that moment in my life — when I was literally bringing another human being into the world — is the scariest, most exhausting, insanely empowering moment I have ever experienced.
I blame the people who told me pushing would feel a lot like pooping. I mean, I've sat on a toilet for most of my life, so I know how to do my business. Pushing a human being out of your body, however, is very, very different.
I know it's "natural," but it doesn't necessarily feel natural. I vividly remember looking at my partner and telling him, "This is just weird." I mean, I've never birthed a human being before, so that in and of itself was difficult to completely comprehend. Add in the fact that I was using muscles I didn't know existed and, well, it was just an odd experience.
I walked into that labor and delivery room terrified that I would end up pooping in front of a bunch of strangers. I did, to be sure, I just didn't care. Honestly, I really didn't give a you-know-what that I was doing you-know-what in front of a bunch of people I just met a few hours prior. Oh, well.
Thank you, epidural. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
However, not feeling pain doesn't mean I didn't feel anything. I felt an immense amount of pressure, I knew where my son was in relation to my body, and definitely was aware of what my body was currently going through. I know there's a stigma surrounding women who choose epidurals — that we didn't have "natural births" — but I can assure you I felt some sh*t, and it was surprising.
My very best friend and soulmate, my partner and father of my child, and my other best friend were in the labor and delivery room with me when I was pushing my son into the world. There were also an entire team of doctors and nurses, because my pregnancy, labor, and delivery had some complications. I forgot about everyone. Seriously, everyone.
All of a sudden, I had tunnel vision and the only people I could focus on where my amazing OB-GYN and my partner. My best friends vanished. The nurses vanished. No one else was in that room.
I pushed for three freakin' hours before my kid decided to make an appearance. Childbirth is not like the movies, my friends.
I had passed the three hour mark of pushing, and my doctor was starting to get concerned. My son's heartbeat was showing signs of distress, so there were conversations about potential interventions and an emergency c-section. My doctor was respectful of my birth plan and quick to discuss any and all potential decisions with me, so the moment "emergency c-section" came out of her mouth I said, "Nope. Get back down there. I'm pushing again. We're doing this because I am absolutely not going into surgery."
My son was born 10 minutes later.
I bought into the idea that once I had an epidural, I wouldn't be able to move. That wasn't necessarily true. Yes, after 10 hours of being able to walk around and deal with my contractions via standing, in a bath, and on a birthing ball, I did have to lay down. However, I was also able to move my body in different positions while in bed. Repositioning my body (with the help of nurses and my partner) was incredibly helpful.
I wasn't really looking forward to experiencing labor and delivery, if I'm being really honest with you. Yes, I wanted to meet my son, but I wasn't about "feeling every feeling," or whatever. In those 10 hours of medication-free back labor, I realized that childbirth f*cking hurts in a truly out-of-body kind of way. It's insanity.
However, it's worth it. That final push was a culmination of 40 weeks of growing, 23 hours of labor, three hours of active pushing, and years of my life I didn't even realize were leading up to this moment: the moment I was able to hold my son for the very first time. That baby in my arms? Yeah, that was worth everything.