Pregnancy and labor were definitely eye-opening experiences. There are a ton of things you think you know until you are in the moment and then, BAM! Everything is gone. You realize you don't know shit. It's really fun. Like being on a carnival ride that flips you upside down so much that you forget that the blue blur passing by is the sky and the green mush that whizzed by was the ground.
Because I really love being spun upside down and feeling my stomach gradually crawl up to my throat...
I shared once the crazy pregnancy symptoms that I developed that aren't really the stereotypical symptoms. I'm sure there are a lot of people that think that these kinds of posts are TMI. And that's okay if you feel that way. However, I personally believe that people don't "talk" enough. You're probably thinking "People talk a TON...whether it's on the phone, through text, email, facebook, twitter, foursquare, smoke signals...whatever." But what are they really talking about? You can buy a ton of books on how to have a conversation about 18,000 topics but are you having that conversation? For instance, I personally feel that handing your pre-teen a book on safe sex/abstinence will never convey the true message you want delivered.
I get that my way of having conversations with people may seem a bit harsh or too much. I just don't really see a point of sugar coating the topic or my opinion. Why not just be upfront and honest about it? Why beat around the bush?
Wow...that soapbox just came out of NOWHERE!
Back to today's topic...
Today, I wanted to share a few of the things that surprised me about labor and childbirth. So, pull up a chair, pour yourself a martini (or some other stiff drink cause you might need it), and settle in.
1. Back Labor
I want to address this first and get it out of the way. In my research, I learned about the pain of back labor by reading other women's stories about having back labor. Of course, I convinced myself that I was lucky enough that I wouldn't ever experience it. Naivety is a bitch, people. Once that pitocin kicked in and really started working, so did the back labor. I know I discussed this in my baby story post but I feel like it requires reiterating. I've had surgery before but back labor was crippling. There should be some kind of serious discussion that an OB has with their patient. Like when they are discussing the birth plan...
Patient: I'd really like to go completely natural.
Doc: Okay let me warn you though that back labor is the worst thing you will ever experience.
Patient: Right but I'd still really like to completely natural.
Doc: Well, why don't I go ahead and stab you about four times in the lower back without anesthesia and we'll see what you think then?
2. Epidurals are AH-MAZING.
I was hardcore planning on going natural when I first got pregnant. Halfway through the pregnancy, I realized that I'm a pansy. I don't have it in me. So I figured that I would get at least halfway dilated and then take the epi. However, once I began to experience back labor, any and all reasoning/logic/strength/willpower/etc went right out the window. If you don't understand why, please refer back to Number 1.
Once that epidural was in place and pumping, I was good. I could have a conversation with Eric and respond to the nurses. Now, do I remember these conversations? Not really. It's a bit fuzzy. I watched the entire tenth season of Friends during the 19 hours I was in labor and quite frankly, I don't remember it.
3. Your birth plan is really only a wishlist.
Sorry to break it to you but labor and childbirth don't always go the way you plan. Why? Because there are things like anatomy and physics and another person inside your belly clawing to get out and voodoo and faeries and angels that all play a part in the process. With so many roles in this little stage play, how can you really expect it to go exactly as you directed? That's why all great directors have an understudy in line for their prima ballerina. Honestly, the only thing that went according to my birthplan is that Eric was the only person in the room (other than the labor nurse) with me while I was attempting to push.
4. Pushing with an epidural is ridiculous.
I was going to say that it's impossible but obviously, that's not the case because thousands of women do it every year. I'm not going into detail because that would be crossing the line. It's just a little hard to direct pressure to an area that you can't feel. If you can't imagine what that's like, tie a tourniquet around your arm for an hour and then try to use that arm to throw a baseball at a target. Good luck.
5. Breast-feeding is not an instantaneous thing.
Sorry, boys, I realize this isn't a topic you care about. Going into childbirth, I knew that breastfeeding could potentially be a bit of a struggle. What I didn't know was that it really could take several days before milk production actually came through. And on top of that, it's WORK to get it to come in. So if you think you are done doing work after childbirth, you are mistaken. I was definitely struggling so we tried several different methods to spur on milk production:
-Seaweed Soup: Korean method. Allegedly (and I use that term because my mom is the one who found this information and so it's hearsay...can you tell I'm married to an attorney?), Korean women are fed seaweed soup almost immediately following childbirth to encourage milk production.
-Beer: According to Stephen's NICU nurse, in Ireland, women are given a Guinness following childbirth. The malt in beer is said to help with milk production.
-Relaxation: I've spent several days doing nothing. It's lover-ly.
-Mother's Milk Tea: this is an organic herbal tea that one of my NP's recommended. She said that it is said to really help with milk production. Warning: it's not great. I have to put two tablespoons of honey in it.
-Pumping: this is kind of self-explanatory.