When I had my first child, I was barely 21 years old, and I’d be lying if I said I was completely prepared and competent when it came time to give birth. In fact, it was the exact opposite. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I figured that if things went out of hand or I grew too terrified, the doctors and nurses would step in and help me, and everything would be OK (they were the experts after all). Yeah, not so much.
Now, I was really lucky and had pretty easy labor and deliveries all three times. I won’t go into detail of each one but will say that after I had my first and going into my second delivery, I thought I was the expert. But then the experience couldn’t have been more different. Things I thought to remember from the first time around didn’t happen and new surprises popped up.
When the time came for me to deliver my third baby, I really thought I was an expert and would plan to have everything in my control (which for the most part I did). But still there were some surprises along the way and I can now say that I’ve experienced a few things during childbirth that I didn’t know would or could happen.
Here are some *not so obvious* things that happened to me during my three child birthing experiences that were definitely not expected.
I threw up.
I wasn’t expecting to throw up. It was with my first and because I wasn’t yet in active labor when I went to the hospital, I stopped off at Taco Bell and had a burrito. Bad idea. That bad boy came right back up after I had my first round of painkillers. It was horribly embarrassing and taught me to eat better and lighter during the next two labors. There is a reason they offer ice chips.
Epidurals don’t always take.
Yep, just when you think the pain is going to let up and you’re going to get a break, the darn thing doesn’t take. As was the case with my first delivery. I had about 45 mins of peace until the pain came flooding back to me and it was like there had never been a foot long needle in my back. Talk about a major let down. It was kind of a blessing though (I guess) since then I got to experience the pain of childbirth, but not in it’s entire intensity.
Late Epidurals Suck.
.I received an epidural at 6 centimeters with my second. I was hoping not to have to get one but after 24 hours in labor, I just didn’t have the fight in me anymore. Anyways, once I had started to get some relief, my 6 turned to 10 and I was ready to push (so I was told). Problem was, I couldn’t feel anything…like, nothing. I couldn’t even lift my legs onto the stirrups because I was so numb. This made pushing extremely difficult since I could feel everything with my first (see #2) and now didn’t know what the heck I was doing. It made for a more pain-free birth but caused some not so great after birth moments…
Headaches are a result from pushing/breathing incorrectly.
since I couldn’t feel how I was pushing, I started pushing in my face (sounds funny but that’s what the good doctor called it) and the extremely painful headache that came rushing to my head immediately after I gave birth was a little bonus since I couldn’t feel the delivery itself. It was so bad that I needed an oxygen mask to help alleviate some of the pain. This was in the forefront of my mind when I went into delivery number 3… push in your bottom, not in your face.
The numbness lasts a long time.
because I had the epidural so close to when I gave birth, I remained numb -internally- for hours after. This made going to the bathroom extremely difficult and frustrating since I felt like I had to pee but couldn’t control myself to go. I used warm water, I sat on the toilet, I waited…nothing happened. It got to the point where my bladder was so full I was crying in pain. They finally put a catheter in me (5 times!) since I couldn’t control that part of my body. It was a nightmare.
The lady bits might be a bit swollen.
okay maybe a lot swollen. I had no one to enlighten me with this info and since my mom had cesareans, she also wasn’t any help in this department. So imagine my surprise when after just giving birth for the first time, I look down to see that things didn’t look quite like normal. It never even occurred to me that this would happen. I mean, it makes total sense given the circumstances but it never crossed my mind.
The connection… with the baby is not always instantaneous.
I didn’t know how I was going to feel right after giving birth but was hoping to be overwhelmed with tears of joy and have an instant bond with my baby I had carried for nine long months. This was not the case. I would say it took me a day or so to get passed the initial fear and to a point of happiness with my my first. I still feel some guilt for not having an instant bond with my baby at birth. With my second and third there was thankfully an instant connection and not the trepidation I had felt with my first.
The high of giving birth.
Is like nothing I have ever experienced and will ever experience again. No one had ever told me (I was the first of my friends and family to have a baby) that the moment after giving birth is the most euphoric of all moments. Call it endorphins, hormones, joy, whatever, but that feeling just after I had given life and pushed my body that hard was the most rewarding and overpowering feeling I have ever felt. It doesn’t last long as motherhood immediately follows but to say I wasn’t looking forward to it in my following deliveries would be an understatement.
The sadness… of not being pregnant anymore.
This was very unexpected and totally took me by surprise because all three times I was so ready to not be pregnant anymore. But when everything calmed down and I was able to go over everything that had taken place, I was overcome with sadness with no longer carrying life within me anymore; a feeling of emptiness. Yes, there was now a living, breathing human baby to take care of, but I really enjoyed being pregnant and felt a little loss after it was all said and done; if even a bit irrational.
Read also: Why Stress is a Natural Part of Life
The unpredictableness & strength in the whole thing.
Now this one is quite personal for me. After my first two deliveries, in which I had been induced (#1), had epidurals, crappy recoveries and the whole hospital experience, going into #3 I knew I wanted to make it as easy and simple as possible, while still going to the hospital. I did this by staying and laboring at home for as long as possible (25 hours from first contraction) before finally *walking to the hospital. I knew that if I was too many centimeters dilated, I wouldn’t even be offered an epidural.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was at 8cm and the baby was delivered within 30 mins. Since it was so quick and I wasn’t hooked up to anything, I was able to walk and shower after I had finished bonding with my baby. I had no idea I would be able to be so free after giving birth because I was so constrained the first two times around. I even walked to my recovery room. The strength that our bodies go through when bringing a child into the world is pretty remarkable, and the fact that so many twists and turns can make for any number of delivery possibilities, is pretty exciting.
I would love to hear some unexpected things that took place during labor and deliveries, as birth stories are simply one of my favorite topics to read.