Worst pain most easily forgotten

When I was pregnant with J I had lots of people tell me stories about their labor.  Most of them ended with “it’s the worst pain most easily forgotten.”  That’s a hard thing to believe when you are awaiting your own impending “worst pain” moments.  The anticipation for the impending pain makes you over think how the whole birthing process will go, and if you are choosing to use a epidural you will be sure that you have that plan locked in place with everyone that will be involved in the birth.  My sister-in-law is only 4 weeks away from her due date and she was telling me the other day how she’s becoming almost obsessive about going into labor and can’t stop thinking about the pain part.  I’m sure that I had the same worries and obsessions in the days leading up to J’s birth, but for the life of me I can’t really remember.

There it is.  It’s been 11 months and I can’t remember anything about the pain.  Not really specifically at least.  I remember that when my water broke I was sleeping and I woke up with a start cuz it was a quick sharp pain.  I remember feeling like they were the worst cramps ever when I started having contractions, and I remember that sitting in the bath tub didn’t help a *$&%*& bit with the pain.  But as far as the severity of the pain, I don’t have an answer anymore for what it actually felt like.  Bad cramps doesn’t translate when you’re trying to describe it to someone else who’s about to experience it for themselves.  And “it feels like your insides are being ripped out” seems way to harsh and not even close to the truth.  Yup, I’d say that statement is pretty accurate.  Unless you’ve actually had your arm cut off while you were awake with no drugs, labor probably is the worst pain.  And it’s also the one that you forget about the quickest and easiest.

Granted I did have an epidural, so I can’t compare myself to someone who’s done a natural birth.  Then again everyone’s pain levels are different, so what was an 8 for me could be a 4 for someone else.  I don’t think there’s really a way to compare or prepare for what you are about to experience.  Thankfully you are so overwhelmed and distracted by everything else going on  – pushing, breathing, getting to the hospital, all the nurses coming and going, the actual arrival of your little one – that you won’t really remember the pain after the moment that your little baby is placed in your arms.  The greatest reward indeed.  Thank goodness that all that crap you have to go through leads up to that little one.  Otherwise I swear no one would do it…haha

I think the best thing to do is make a plan, if you’re a planner, so that you can be a little more relaxed going into the whole thing.  It’ll keep you focused and give you some relief…at least leading up to going into labor.  After that, it’s a total crap shoot.  Sorry to break it to you, but chances are that no matter what you “planned”, it’s not going to go that way.  But if making a plan gives you some peace of mind, then do it.  Just also be aware that your plan will go out the window the second your water breaks.

Enjoy the ride though, it’s over far too quickly.

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C-Section

When I was pregnant with J I knew that I was going to want an epidural.  No question in my mind that I wasn’t ready for a natural childbirth and so for me, I always planned on the epi.  When I went into labor they were sure J was going to be born within about 6 hours from my water breaking, he was moving along pretty quick.  But I didn’t get my epidural until 8-9 cm and then it was overkill and I completely lost feeling and the ability to push effectively.  So my labor stalled.  12 hours into labor I was finally able to push and pushed for 2 hours with no significant movement.

My midwife had told me at my 39 week appointment that J’s head was on the large side.  Well apparently my pelvis, while plenty wide, is also oval-shaped.  Something I’d have no way of knowing…until I tried to give birth.After 14 hours of labor, even the vacuum didn’t help any and the decision was made to take me in for a c-section.  There was no way that J was coming out as planned.

I’d never really thought too much about a c-section.  Mainly because I didn’t think there was any significant risk of needing one.  I didn’t have any specific ill-thoughts or feelings about c-sections either though.  Beyond not wanting to go all-natural, I didn’t have a specific idea of how my birthing plan would be carried out.  When my midwife told me that I would need a c-section after all, she approached it with some apprehension.  I think a lot of mothers who go through the initial parts of labor and really disappointed when they have to go through a c-section too.  I appreciated that she approached it carefully and explained to me what was happening and that J just wasn’t going to fit through the birth canal.  C-section really wasn’t an option at this point, it was mandatory.

My c-section went smoothly, and besides being really exhausted after 14+ hours of labor and then a major surgery, I didn’t have any regrets at the time.  The only major disappointment I had was that I wasn’t able to hold my own baby until an hour after they pulled him out of me.  I made sure that I was allowed skin-on-skin as soon as possible and he breastfed fine, but I missed out on that whole first hour.  Luckily Daddy got to be with him during that time so they could stitch me back up.

Yesterday I shared this post from Facebook:

csection

Five Things You Should Not Say to a Cesarean Mom and Three Things You Should

 

I don’t specifically remember comments that I’ve made in the past to friends who’ve had c-sections.  Nor do I specifically remember comments that were made to me after my own c-section.  But the article did get me thinking back to my experience and how these five things affect me now.

#1 is a very valid point in my mind.  Everyone’s experience with birth is different.  Some people have it really “easy” with no complications, and some people struggle with birth or recovery.  Comparing one birth to another is as valid as comparing a fruit to meat.  Just don’t do it.

#2. Yes, very true, but don’t forget that birth is a very important experience to moms, dads, family members.  If you had a very specific birth plan in place and you were forced to change it, that’s a hard thing to quickly get over.  Consider the mother’s feelings, especially since she birth is exhausting.

#3 If someone would have said this to me I would have either slapped them or not spoken to them for a very long time.  Seriously? Who in their right mind would say something like this to a new mom riddled with hormones and postpartum symptoms?

#4 If you really want a c-section by choice, that’s your own prerogative.  Maybe that’s in your own birth plan.  But don’t cheapen our experience by making it sound like a c-section is the “best” way to give birth.

#5 Some people connect more to their c-sections than others.  For some it is a reminder that things didn’t go quite the way they planned or envisioned. For others it may be a way that they can look back on a wonderful gift.  I personally have no attachment to my scar other than it being a story to someday tell my little one(s).  To each their own.

If you really want to talk to a new mama about her birth story, c-section or otherwise, please keep in mind that new mama’s are very sensitive, overly emotional (rightly so) and sleep deprived.  Be careful with what you say and how your words may come off as judgmental.  Be supportive and listen to what mama has to say about her experience.  Unless she asks, she probably doesn’t give a rats ass about your own thoughts or opinions on the matter.

When baby #2 for us happens, I will tell my midwife that I’d like to try for a VBAC first.  Unless the next one has a head the size of a watermelon too, I’m hopeful that I’ll get to experience a vaginal birth.  My midwife did tell me that the chances of needing a second c-section are higher if you’ve already had one, and that if we are planning on more than 2 kids we will need to discuss the risks of a possible 3rd pregnancy or c-section.  We’ll cross that bridge when/if we come to it.