Most of the time when people tell stories about childbirth, they focus on the bad parts — pain, hours of waiting, more pain, fear, pooping on the table, thinking that there's no way you are going to do it, and yeah, more pain. But despite the painful, fearful and gross moments of childbirth, there are so many labor and delivery moments I hope I never forget. No, really. I'm serious. It was totally amazing.
The first two times I gave birth I didn't want any photographs taken of me until after my babies were born. I seriously regret that decision, because afterwards, and when re-telling their birth stories, I found the memories (both good and bad fading) like old photographs. This time around I asked my husband to capture as much as possible of my last birth on camera and on video, because I wanted to be able to remember that day forever. I am so glad I did.
Now, when I am feeling nostalgic I can look at those pictures and watch the videos (and cry like a baby). Some of the moments were funny, like my water breaking and flowing like an endless river, my husband getting nervous and cracking bad jokes, and me having to ask him to check and see if I had pooped on the table (spoiler alert: I didn't). Others were super emotional, like realizing that I could do it, catching my son myself, and meeting my babies for the first time. I honestly hope I never forget these moments.
When My Husband Told Jokes
My husband has a nervous habit of cracking jokes when he doesn't know what to say. Nothing super inappropriate, but a little silly and off the wall (and perfectly him). While I was in labor, I reminded him again that he was not funny, and he wrote the words on his arm with a green sharpie. This, of course, became the topic of conversation every time a new person entered the room. Fortunately, I am not likely to forget this moment, because he is planning to get this tattooed on his arm. For real.
When I Got An Epidural
It was amazing. I have no way to describe back labor to people who haven't experienced it for themselves, but it was seriously the worst thing I have ever felt. I didn't feel amazing or strong. It made me feel like I was being stabbed. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and scream f*ck over and over and over again.
After my epidural, labor was no big deal. I actually proposed to the anesthesiologist.
When My Water Broke
I'll never forget what my water breaking felt like each time. Labor is so freaking weird. The first time my water broke like a waterfall all over the bathroom floor. For the next two times, I was induced and my provider ruptured my membranes to get labor started. The first time I was induced, fluid shot out of me like a canon, I actually hit the on-call midwife in the face (oops). The second felt like a warm, lazy, never-ending river that went on for so long that my husband took a video (yes, a video). That one is so not going on Facebook.
The Great Conversation I Had With My Midwife
I was in so much pain during labor with my daughter that I couldn't sleep at all. The on-call midwife hung out with me and we had the best conversation about women's health care. At the time I worked for a reproductive health care provider. A few months later she came to work for us, and we joked that I recruited her while I was in labor.
When I Took A Nap
I was in labor with my daughter for 18 hours before I got an epidural. By that point, I hadn't slept in over a day. I was so exhausted that I felt like there was no way I could make it. After my epidural, I took a nap. It was just what I needed. I haven't slept that good since.
When They Told Me I Was Ready To Push
Despite having an epidural, I had no problem feeling when it was time to push and meet my second baby. The nurse didn't believe me and the midwife didn't make it back to the hospital in time.
When I Realized I Could Do It
I was so scared. Scared I wouldn't be able to do it, scared I would poop on the table, scared that something would go wrong, scared of tearing, and scared of screwing things up. The I reached a moment of clarity, adrenaline, and strength when I just knew I could do it. I never want to forget how that felt.
I can't describe pushing adequately to someone who hasn't experienced it. It was scary, but also empowering, burning pain and pressure, and then relief. Hearing a tiny cry and knowing that something was over, and something else was just beginning. A-freaking-mazing.
Meeting My Baby For The First Time
The moments when I met my babies for the first time were probably the most emotional moments of my life. Intense joy and relief, love, and that unforgettable moment when you realize they are fine, you exhale, and all the emotions come at once.