Ever since I was a kid, I always knew I eventually wanted to be a mom. But I wasn’t around a lot of babies growing up, so I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with them. Because of that, I really wasn’t crazy about babies. I didn’t coo and gush over the presence of a baby, and I most definitely didn’t understand the magnitude of what it took for the mother to bring that baby into the world. Still, I knew I would want to have my own family one day… even if I didn’t dwell on the specifics of what I would have to go through to make that happen.
Once I became pregnant, though, the approaching childbirth became one of my worst nightmares.
I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant and had a pretty simple and easy pregnancy. However, even through all of the excitement about becoming parents, anticipating what our little girl would look like, and wishing she were in our arms already, the climactic moment that would finally deliver her into the world became a constant source of worry and dread for me. Instead of the image of a “light at the end of the tunnel,” I felt it was more of a “dark hole” I was traveling toward. Yes, by the time I was around 36 weeks pregnant, I was growing more and more uncomfortable and was just ready to meet my daughter, but I was still so nervous about the labor and delivery that would have to take place.
My husband and I went to a birthing class at the hospital, which I thought would help ease my mind about the whole process, but it ended up doing completely the opposite. I think most of it could be attributed to just being in the hospital and touring the obstetrics wing, seeing all of the rooms and equipment. It made it all so much more real, and the inevitable became even more daunting.
Some people asked me if I had a birth plan, and I would reply, “The plan is just to get the baby out.” I knew all of the options I had for delivery, and not a one of them sounded pleasant. First of all, needing a cesarean was pretty much my most absolute worst fear about birth. I understand that many women have them with no complications and all that, but I’d never even been in the hospital before and was already dreading my hospital stay… I couldn’t even fathom having my first surgery on top of that. That left me with two options: unmedicated vaginal birth or medicated vaginal birth. Now, I’m not scared of needles/shots, but the thought of getting an epidural just made me cringe. I also wasn’t thrilled about the idea of my legs and feet being numb or having to get a catheter. No, no, no… none of it sounded appealing to me. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t even take an Advil unless I’m in severe pain, so I was leaning more towards trying an unmedicated birth… but that’s just as frightening in itself. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would feel like. I was fully aware, too, that there was always the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to make my own choice about delivery anyway in case of emergency or some other reason.
After these months filled with dread and agonizing over what could happen, it turns out that childbirth wasn’t really that bad. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was awful while it was happening (for me), but it was such an experience like I’ve never had before.
When I think back on the day I went into labor, the one word that comes to mind is “exciting.” From the minute I woke up and discovered that my water had broken, I instantly became excited. I was still very nervous throughout the entire day, but it was finally happening!–the day we’d been preparing and waiting for. It was exciting to call my husband at work and tell him that we needed to get to the hospital; it was exciting to enter the hospital and get checked in to the room where we would meet our daughter; it was exciting to let all of our family and friends know that the BIG day had arrived!
After months of being pampered as a pregnant lady, birth brings along a swift change in dynamics when the baby will suddenly become the center of attention. Which is fine, of course, and fully expected. But it’s kind of nice during those last few–or many–hours you are in labor and before the baby arrives for all of the nurses and everyone around you to be at your every beck and call to make sure you are as happy and comfortable as possible.
When I was in labor with my baby, I ended up getting an epidural, but it wasn’t as bad as I had been anticipating. It wasn’t super fun or anything, but I survived… and I’m not so sure I would have if I hadn’t gotten it! Having numb legs actually provided me with some comic relief as the nurses and my husband had to help me heave them from side to side and on top of the peanut ball while we were trying to ease the baby into optimal position. It was pretty hilarious.
Even after all the pain and hours of hard work and exhaustion, once the baby was finally delivered, I couldn’t help but feel such overwhelming relief and a feeling of accomplishment. The worst was over, I survived, and I did something pretty freaking amazing… I delivered a tiny human from my body. Even for moms who had to get a c-section, you are still a boss for undergoing surgery while fully conscious and then recovering from that surgery while also caring for a newborn. I can’t even imagine. However your baby entered this world, you made it and grew it and helped deliver it. That’s definitely something to be proud of. And once I laid eyes on my beautiful little girl, I couldn’t feel anything BUT proud. She was even more perfect than I ever could have pictured her to be.
So, even though it was definitely the hardest and most exhausting day of my life, the day I delivered my baby was also probably the most memorable and exciting day of my life thus far. It was difficult, but not as bad as I had expected. The entire day was just filled with the anticipation of meeting our little girl, and once the hard part was over, I could celebrate the arrival of my daughter and also feel so proud at what I had just accomplished. Even still today, I sometimes just gaze at my baby in amazement that I created her and brought her into this world. It was an experience unlike any other and one I will think back on and smile. It wasn’t such a nightmare after all because in the end, I finally got to meet my beautiful baby which was a dream come true.