Our bodies are incredible, and nothing makes that more obvious than childbirth. But for as incredible as our bodies are, the fact that they ask us to do even more work after we bring human beings into the world is, well, a little unfair. Not only do you have to get through the pain of pushing a baby through a small canal, but once you find relief from that pain the organ you grew has to come out, too. On the list of things every brand new mom thinks when she's delivering the afterbirth, I'd say, "You've got to be kidding me!" is near the damn top.
If I'm being honest, I must admit I don't remember how things went down with my first delivery. I was so exhausted from the pushing, while simultaneously re-energized from the adrenaline of holding my daughter in my arms, that it's all a blur. With my second child, however, I remember every single part of it. My son came out not breathing. I was faint and a good half of my face was covered with an oxygen mask, but I still found the strength to focus entirely on my boy. That is, until all that aforementioned weirdness started happening down below.
When the doctor pulled my son from me he was caught up in the umbilical cord and it snapped, creating quite an impressive (read: gory) scene. I hadn't thought about the placenta or where it was, or even that I still needed to push it out. I was barely coherent and, honestly, traumatized from the preceding events. But once the nurses refocused my attention, I was fully aware of this whole afterbirth situation.
While I know, and extremely grateful, that the placenta I grew helped my son grow and thrive in the womb, I must say I'm not a fan. Here are a few things I thought during the entire process (because, yes, this is your chance to tell me I'm not alone).
"There's An Alien Inside Of Me"
It's hard to describe what the afterbirth feels like. At the time I was partially numb, somewhat unconscious, and totally over the entire labor and delivery experience. Once the nurses held my legs and told me to start pushing again, I could feel the placenta wiggling down towards its exit, like a tiny alien looking for an escape. It was weird, and gross, and I just wanted to hold my baby already.
"Why Am I Still Having Contractions?"
You'd think the contractions would stop once the baby arrives but, well, you'd be wrong. Those damn contractions continued punishing me well after my son took his first breath, because my body knew to push the placenta out long before I did. I had an epidural but, unfortunately, it didn't entirely take. So throughout my entire labor and delivery, I felt every single solitary contraction. It was no different when I had to get the afterbirth out, too. When does it end?
"Just Get Out Already!"
Seriously. I'd been in labor for days. My son was out. I was tired of the process, to be sure, but my afterbirth didn't want to make it so easy. It took several nurses, many hands, and some forceps to pull the tattered placenta from my body. As if I weren't traumatized enough, right? And yes, it was as gross as it sounds.
"This Feels Disgusting"
After a few contractions I felt my placenta break into a few pieces. Those pieces got stuck in various places and, well, EW. That's when all those medical professionals got involved and tools started entering the picture, and can't I just hold my new baby already? The afterbirth is such a demanding little thing. If I could've skipped it, I would've. Then again, I'm pretty positive that goes against doctor recommendations.
"I'll Never Get To Meet My Baby"
At the end of a long week where doctors probed me and eventually decided I'd be better off if I was induced; after a three day process of getting the baby out; after finally meeting my son, I thought I'd reached the end of the childbirth journey. Until everyone gathered around to deliver the stubborn afterbirth. That thing ate up skin-to-skin contact time I could've spent with my new baby. It tricked me into thinking I was finished with the hard parts. It reminded me that this thing called motherhood means, sometimes, doing stuff you really don't want to do.
So thank you, placenta. You helped my baby grow, and taught me a valuable lesson: my work, as a mom, is never done.