My Magical Pregnancy Story
I hated being pregnant. It was a miserable, disgusting experience that I would never like to repeat.
I had what would probably be considered an ideal pregnancy. I was in excellent health when we conceived, and remained active throughout. Up until I set foot in the hospital I was in a habit of walking 5 miles and swimming half an hour every single day, eating a healthful (and plentiful) diet, sleeping soundly and staying positive. My weight right before labor was an even 30-pound increase over my pre-pregnancy weight. In fact, I felt stronger and healthier by the end of my pregnancy than I did before it, with a definite increase in muscle mass and stamina. Each of my prenatal appointments was uneventful and routine. Without fail, test after test came back negative or normal. Of course, I had the usual minor discomforts -- heartburn, cramping calves, morning sickness (or actually, all-day sickness) in the first trimester, needing assistance with simple personal hygiene tasks -- but nothing severe or unbearable.
None of that made me hate it any less.
I know that some moms find it to be a beautiful experience, and god bless ’em, but I find that completely insane. From my perspective, my body was hijacked by forces beyond my control, filled with foreign fluids and gasses and set on a crash course with the foulest and most painful experience I will ever have. I’ve heard some women attribute their love of pregnancy to the positive attention they get from everyone around them. Yes, many people revered my belly as if it had magical powers, but I didn’t find particular pleasure in that. I did however, find great annoyance in the amount of unsolicited advice I attracted. Strangers felt it prudent to tell me everything that I should and shouldn’t be doing and how it related to them. While most chimed in with friendly advice and had the best intentions, there were those who gave stern commands, like the woman who scolded me for not wearing a sweater in 60+ degrees, because clearly, I was inviting pneumonia to both myself and my baby. I’m not a huge fan of attention to begin with, but being the center of it in this scenario got especially old, and put me in the spotlight when really I wanted to just fly under the radar until the whole ordeal was over with.
There was one single thing that I liked about being pregnant: knowing that my baby was being made (regardless of all the punches in the ribs and kicks in the bladder). That thing, I loved. I couldn’t have her ready and out soon enough. Which brings us to labor and delivery.
All I wanted was a natural, unmedicated birth and for it to be over and my baby to be in my arms. Simple, right? Too much to ask? Apparently.
I was terrified of any intervention. Watching “The Business of Being Born” put the fear of Pitocin in my heart. Reading threads on BabyCenter gave me nightmares from the horror stories shared. The thought of a C-section made my whole body hurt. So when the baby decided that she wasn’t about to come out without a fight and my doctor had to schedule an induction at nearly 42 weeks, I was not happy. And by not happy, I mean petrified, disappointed and angry. I was resistant and distrustful and hopeless. But I did what the man said and showed up at the hospital. From there, I’ll try to make a long, horrible story short. Cervadil and Pitocin kicked me into and pummelled me through 33 hours of intensified, exhausting labor -- for which, I would like to add, I remained stubborn enough to not have an epidural, which I think has earned me some impressive masochist credits -- but my kid came out the right hole and for that I was grateful. It so happened though that it was too soon to be celebrating. As I was enjoying skin-to-skin time with an adorable little alien, I was hemorrhaging massive amounts trying to deliver the placenta, which, like my daughter, also did not want to come out. After about 20 minutes and 2.5 liters of lost blood, I was rushed to the OR for my doctor to manually remove it. For this, I was told (since I was knocked out), he went elbow-deep and scooped and scraped it out of me, which brings a particular scene from “City Slickers” to mind and makes my vagina ache just imagining it. The end of the story is that, thankfully, I didn’t die and I started my life as the mom of a perfect child. The travails of postpartum recovery and breastfeeding are topics for another day.
I’m unspeakably glad that it’s all over. However, I do love a good story. And even better, I love a good gross story. I can recount tales of bodily fluids and functions like no other, and this has added an anecdote of blood and guts to my arsenal of stories, and currently the baby is providing me with a few more good poop and vomit narratives. Seriously, invite me to your cocktail party and you’ll see.
Ten years from now, when I’m telling my daughter the story of her birth, I could’ve been saying, “Yours was such a wonderful pregnancy and labor, sweetheart. Nine amazing months, a few short hours of easy contractions and a couple quick pushes and I was staring down at your precious face.” Instead, I get to start my story with, “You almost killed me...” I could pretty much say whatever I want after that: “and you don’t want to clean your room?” “so you better get your homework done,” “so don’t you dare talk back to me, young lady.” But honestly, what I really think I’ll be finishing that sentence with is “and you were worth it.”