The Pain and Joy of Childbirth
By Shanna, age 18, California
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
I had gotten down to my last appointment. I was happy and disappointed at the same time. I thought my baby would be like everybody else's and come before her due date, but no luck. I walked into my midwife's office expecting to hear I was dilated and closer to having my baby girl, but I got the news that I would have to wait another week to see if nature would take its course. I felt like crying when I was told to wait. All the anticipation I'd built up was starting to become too much for me to handle. I thought I would be like the others, and be out getting a Frappuccino or something, and my water would break where I was standing, and I'd be rushed to the hospital. I know, crazy, right?
It was just as I'd expected, but my labor began with me sitting in front of the TV with a Dasani bottle in front of the fan. At first I began feeling cramping like I was menstruating. I knew that was a red flag, but I decided to wait it out. I had read somewhere that if you get to the hospital too early you could be sent home or you would be in the hospital waiting for many hours before having any progress. Little did I know my labor was beginning. I sought advice from every family member I could call, but honestly I was annoyed somewhat (from being in pain) and felt like I was getting no help, so I waited.
My contractions stretched from Wednesday to Saturday. By the time Friday came, I was in so much pain I could barely lay down without feeling intense pain, so I went in to the hospital. After three hours of measuring my baby's heartbeat and contractions that were not considered intense enough, I was sent home disappointed and in more pain with each step I took. I had been only 1 cm dilated for three weeks, which was annoying because I wanted to give birth so bad. (You have to get to 9 cm before you can push and be 3 cm to be admitted into the hospital.)
Deprived of sleep that night, I was in so much pain I was rolling on the floor to try to cheat my pain. I know it sounds weird, but the pain got more intense whenever I laid down, so I walked around, but pretty soon that stopped helping. My family was so excited for me. They all showed up at my door hoping I would soon deliver, but the more people came the more irritated I became because everyone around me seemed happy while I felt like a sweaty cow with its feet cut off.
Finally my mom rescued me from that crowded hot house and rushed me to Labor and Delivery at Kaiser Hospital. I was first checked into a triage, which is a room where they monitor you before admitting you to the hospital. I thought this day would go smoothly, but the lady who checked us in was anything but nice. She was very snotty and rude and questioned me while I was in obvious pain. I mean, come on, the last thing I wanted to do was talk, but she insisted she couldn't do anything until I answered her questions. After answering about 20 questions between painful shock waves being sent through my body, she finally led us to our triage and hooked me up to, like, three machines. The IV in my wrist hurt worse than my tattoos had hurt, and I couldn't think of anything except the waves of pain (other than eating, because I knew I wouldn't be eating for the next 2 or 3 days, since hospitals don't let you eat until after you deliver).
Finally, after an hour, I had become 3 cm dilated. My fiance and I were ecstatic because we knew soon we would be parents, and not just typical college students. After being wheeled to my delivery room reality set in. I wasn't so much afraid, but more like skeptical about what would happen over the course of the next few hours. But once I was offered a pain medication called an epidermal, my labor became so much more heavenly. For as long as I had waited for this day to come, I thought the pain I'd experience during delivery would be unbearable, but it wasn't anything like how my family and friends made it seem.
The contractions were like menstrual cramps times three - nothing worse. The epidermal didn't hurt at all, and pushing wasn't bad. The weirdest thing was sitting there bored after getting the epidermal and watching my contractions on a screen that beeps - it's kind of cool. I had an awesome nurse who was so nice to me and made me forget my crotch was out in the open (lol).
The most surprising part was when I was told to push. I thought I would die from holding my breath and trying to hold my leg steady, which felt like Jello from the body numbing medication. After 41 minutes of pushing, my daughter Erin was placed on my chest for me to see for the first time. Born July 10, 2010, at 11:51 pm, weighing in at 6 lbs. 14 oz., measuring 20 inches, this was one of my proudest moments ever - the feeling is truly indescribable. It made my nine month wait seem well worth it, and was the start of my new summer joy.