This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.
A couple of weeks ago, I was given the privilege of being in the hospital with my best friend and her husband as she labored and they prepared to meet their little girl. I don’t know how helpful I was – mostly cracking jokes to relieve tension and trying to find something good on TV – but I truly enjoyed being there, and experiencing labor from the sidelines. It’s a little different when you’re not the one in pain. There are a few things I totally forgot about, even having done it three times. I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten about these things…
The shakes and the itching. Epidurals, and just plain ol’ high pain levels can cause crazy side effects. Thanks universe, the pain wasn’t bad enough without itchy feet and shaky hands.
The waiting. As if you haven’t had enough waiting for things during your entire pregnancy, it just multiples in the labor and delivery ward. It is so BORING when you’re waiting to dilate, waiting for the next time you’re getting checked, waiting for the medicine to kick in, waiting for the next contraction, waiting to finally start pushing… The waiting seems to never end.
The endless flow of Coca-Cola. After trying for nine months to cut out most of your caffeine, stay hydrated, and be as healthy as possible, the labor nurses come in with Coke after Coke after Coke… and the most perfect little pellets of ice… it’s glorious.
The crappy TV. If you’ve labored late during or through the night, you know that the only thing on TV to distract you is pure crap. Nothing but low-budget infomercials and strange, B-list celebrity reality shows happen between midnight and the 5 o’clock news.
The mindless banter. Nurses come in to check on you, and you answer questions, maybe crack a joke. Whoever is in the room with you – spouse, friend, etc – mentions random things from their Facebook newsfeeds or funny stories that pop into their heads. Your doctor comes in to see how you’re doing, and you make small talk about the same thing every time they come in. It’s purely to be polite, when you’d really just like to be left alone.
When your bladder is empty, your contractions don’t seem as bad. I still don’t fully know the science behind it, but contractions are SO much worse when your bladder is full. So after your third Coke, just go ahead and have them empty your bladder for you. It’ll help – really.
The inability to be still. You get to a certain point in your labor when the epidural isn’t doing much, and your body wants to push, but they say you aren’t ready yet. This leads to wanting to hop off the bed and do jumping jacks until the baby comes out. That’s a little unrealistic, of course, so you resort to squirming on the bed, nervous for the next contraction, but also wanting them to come more quickly and get the process over with.
Labor is a beautiful process, because at the end, you’ve added a bundle of joy to your family. But whether they’re things etched in your memory forever, or things that get glossed over in your mind the older your baby gets, the labor process is full of all those little moments – some sweet, some funny, and some just plain miserable – that make up your entire experience.