(It’s been 10 days since the birth of my son and I am finally feeling normal enough to participate in the world again. If I waited for enough time to write out the whole story of his arrival in one sitting it would never happen, so I’ll just do it in installments.)
It’s funny to me now how backward my expectations of labor and delivery and the first days with the baby turned out to be. I didn’t worry much about labor because I thought of it as this very brief window of time where my body would surely kick in and do its thing, while I dreaded the idea of bringing home a newborn who would need constant care around the clock because I didn’t trust my instincts to deal well with sleep deprivation. Turns out I am thoroughly enjoying my Little Man at all hours of the day and night, but there was nothing enjoyable, or even instinctual, about labor.
In preparation for the big day, I read a couple books and took a crash course at the hospital and thought I was good to go. I’d had such an uncomplicated pregnancy, I naively assumed my l & d would go as smoothly and even thought I might try for a drug-free childbirth. Both Ina May and the Mongan method assured me natural childbirth could be pain free and even orgasmic. I don’t know what kind of natural crack they smoke, or if S & M is their thing, but for me birth and pain were inextricably linked. Another friend who attempted to drink their Kool-Aid and failed pointed out later that most of the births described in the books were the women’s second or consequent times, which are usually quicker and easier. If the memory of this birth doesn’t fade like people say it will, there may not be an opportunity for me to test that theory since Little Man will most likely be an only child.
During the last month of pregnancy, I dutifully did my Kegels and practiced my visualizations of a beautiful rainbow-filled relaxed birth. I didn’t go as far as perineal massage, but I repeated affirmations like “I welcome my baby with happiness and joy”, “My body is not a lemon; I trust my body, and I follow its lead”, “I feel a natural tranquility flowing through my body”, and best of all, “My baby’s birth will be easy because I am so relaxed.” According to the gurus, avoiding pain was just a mind game of conquering fear. I wasn’t afraid, so I was ready, right?
Nothing prepared me, however, for prodromal labor.
(Little Man stirs. Hopefully I’ll get further in the next installment. To be continued…)