My lady parts have a complicated medical history. I had some issues in my twenties which led to my pregnancy and birth history being pretty traumatic. My first pregnancy ended abruptly at 22 weeks due to an incompetent cervix and my second pregnancy, which was high risk and heavily medicalized with weekly ob visits for transvaginal ultrasounds, resulted in a traumatic c-section. I’ve got baggage. Lots of it. So when I got pregnant for the third time, I was determined to have an unmedicated VBAC. I had big plans. This VBAC was going to be my birth experience salvation. It was going to be empowering and amazing and heal all my hangups. I was going to be a mama goddess and everything was going to be perfect.
I was wrong.
For starters, the obvious: I totally underestimated how much that shit would hurt. Everyone knows childbirth hurts, that’s no secret, but to someone who has never pushed a full-sized baby out of a objectively small hole, it’s difficult to conceptualize. Phrases like agony, or cataclysmic pain, or supernova of torture don’t even begin to illustrate what it feels like to give birth. I’m not even going to try to describe it because there haven’t yet been words created that fully encompass just how badly it hurts and I don’t want to sell it short. Suffice it to say, labor sucks. It’s brutal and primal and pretty damned awful.
Because childbirth hurts so freaking bad, even after doing all the things I was supposed to do — walking, bouncing, writhing, breathing — I just couldn’t take it anymore. I hit a wall, and begged for an epidural. BEGGED. Pleaded. I think the anesthesiologist must have been right outside the door, because in about 10 seconds flat, someone was sticking a needle into my spine.
I was failing at my last chance at birth redemption. This was nowhere near what I had hoped for, not even in the same universe as what I envisioned.
I waited for that sweet relief, but it never came. My epidural didn’t work. I pushed that button, I prayed, I swore, I cursed. I pushed that button some more, but nothing worked. My epidural just didn’t take. And now, because I had a thing in my back, I couldn’t get up and move around. I was stuck lying on my back, in the worst position for childbirth ever conceived of (get it, conceived of?).
After 90 minutes of pushing in that ridiculous position, I was begging my obstetrician to cut me. I WANTED a c-section, the very thing I was panic stricken about for the duration of my pregnancy. I wanted it. Bad. She wouldn’t do it, bitch. So I had to persevere. And it was awful. It was humiliating. I screamed and yelled and swore. I screamed until I lost my voice.
No matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t making any progress. I wasn’t pushing right and my doctor kept chastising me. I didn’t know how to push! How can a woman not know how to push?? I was failing at my last chance at birth redemption. This was nowhere near what I had hoped for, not even in the same universe as what I envisioned. This was not empowering, it was humiliating. It wasn’t healing, it was degrading.
Finally, something happened.
I’m not sure what it was, but after one particular push, the entire birth team seemed to mobilize. People started moving fast. The doctor gloved up, drapes were flying everywhere, instruments came out of nowhere, gowns were donned. It freaked me out. I had no idea what was going on or why everyone was suddenly on alert. And no one told me what had changed, so I automatically assumed the worst. Through the fog of pain, I just figured I was about to die.
Turns out, I didn’t die. It had just taken me that long, 90 minutes, no lie, to figure out how to have a productive push. My son was FINALLY about to be born.
That hurt way worse than anything else. But finally he was out. I had him in my arms and he was nursing like a champ. I don’t remember much after that except for being stitched up. I don’t even remember being cut, but I remember being stitched.
Thankfully, I never had to see any of the nurses again, and the OB who delivered my son was not on duty for the rest of my stay, so I was saved from having to face her after humiliating myself.
I tell myself it could’ve been worse, at least I didn’t poop.
That’s my VBAC take away. At least I didn’t poop.
And if I did, please don’t tell me. Leave me with at least that shred of dignity.