This is not a drill, I sardonically thought to myself when my water broke for the second time, two days before my actual due date. I was winding down from a rather busy weekend, in which I was feeling great: my energy had returned, the nesting instinct was in full effect, and I had spent the past two days enjoying the beach, movies, and my brother’s 30th birthday party.
Of course, I hoped for one more good night’s sleep before admitting myself to the hospital yet again. However, as my luck would prevail, the minute I snuggled into bed at 11pm on Sunday night, my water broke for the second time in my pregnancy. Just in case this was another false alarm, I crept into the bathroom, careful not to wake my sleeping husband, and called my doula. She confirmed that this was in fact the real thing and I needed to go to the hospital in the next couple of hours, as I was experiencing irregular contractions.
When I woke up Jon, he bolted towards the garage door before the words had even passed my lips. Since the last incident, in which I had teased him about primping like a woman, he was now lickity split, while I took my time leisurely showering, washing my hair, and preparing my last meal before a diet of ice chips. Of course, when I was finally ready, Jon admitted that he didn’t think that he could drive me to the hospital, since he had taken a sleeping pill that night. Grabbing the car keys, my zombie-husband, my birthing ball, and my bump, I drove us all to the hospital and was ready to finally meet the little stinker who had already given his mommy the torture treatment.
While it would have given me great pleasure to report that I delivered baby J as soon as I was admitted to the hospital, drug-free, pain-free, and extracted him out of the womb myself, that is not my life. Once I was whisked off to triage, admitted, and checked into a room, the nurse informed me that my doctor had instructed me to sleep in the hospital that night, since my contractions were irregular. After a rather sleepless night, my contractions were still irregular and the nurse implanted garvasol, an insert to induce labor. Although she had instructed me to exercise extreme caution after the implantation, I horrifically discovered that the insert eventually journeyed into the long lost chasm of the hospital toilet bowl.
Of course, my labor had still not progressed and my doctor decided it was time to call out the much-dreaded pictocin. My mind immediately corroded of horror stories, told by friends who had received the big P. One of my friends admitted to abusing her poor husband by throwing inadimate objects at his undeserving head; another friend hysterically screamed that the anesthesiologist wasn't moving fast enough, scaring the drug-monger out of the hospital room, never to return. I feared the worst: unbearable pain was in my imminent future and my contractions would feel 100 times worse than the somewhat bearable bodily spasms I was now experiencing.
I soon discovered that my fear was very real; the Pictocin magnified my contractions to such an extent that I vomited after each one. Having no respite from the contractions and the repetitive puking, and after enduring eleven hours of labor, I eventually relented to the epidural. After the anesthesiologist kicked my entourage out of the hospital room and administered the spinal injection, my pain quickly vanished. Because of the epidural, I no longer felt as though I was in labor, in any type of pain, and could not even tell when I was experiencing a contraction.
Prior to my labor, I was adamant that I did not want an epidural. I did not want to be a prisoner of the hospital bed, but wanted to be free to roam around the room, exercising my contractions as calmly as the women in the birthing movies and pamphlets. However, Jon reported that upon his re-emergence into the hospital room, I had a huge smile on my face. During the seven more hours of labor, I was actually able to nap, watch TV, play scrabble, and carry on everyday conversations—some semblance of normalcy was restored.
Ironically enough, my favorite part of the birthing process was when it finally became time for me to push. My mom and doula each held one leg while Jon stood next to me, holding my hand. I felt like I was about to cross the finish line of the longest marathon of my life and I had my own, personal cheering squad, urging me towards the final leg of my journey. Also, I had not experienced a full cardiovascular exercise in months, and the endorphin/adrenaline rush of the momentum felt invigorating. After an hour and a half of extreme pushing and cheering, Baby J erupted out of my body and was greeted by the world.