First, two disclaimers:
1. I started this post on Monday, which just goes to show you how much free time I have these days. S. only naps in his bassinet for about an hour; the rest of the time he insists on lying across my body like a cooing, grunting sack of flour, trapping me and forcing me to re-watch every episode of Mad Men while eating mini Clark bars. So every day I have a Sophie's Choice* of shower, meal that does not come in individually wrapped packaging, or dicking around on the computer (which encompasses blogging, ordering more baby shit from Amazon, and trolling my Facebook feed for breaking news, because I just don't have time to read the paper, let alone pick through the gonzo slush on CNN.com).
*Only not, you know, as important
2. I know that there are some (maybe a lot) of you who could give two shits about babies and boobs and everything else that comes with new motherhood, and I want to take this opportunity to say that I appreciate your reading it anyway--if you still are--and that sometime soon I hope to be able to write about topics other than poopy balls and sleep-deprivation. For now, though, please cut me some slack because this baby is all-consuming, and I mean that literally. He consumes me on a daily basis, 8 to 12 times.
And on that note, here's another post about orifices and the human beings that sometimes come out of them:
So, no one actually asked me what it felt like to push a baby out of my body, but I'm going to tell you anyway, because when I googled "What does childbirth feel like?" in order to try to do a Karate Kid montage of mental and physical preparation, all I found were a bunch of Yahoo message board posts in which women basically just said that it hurts, that they'd blocked it out, or that they couldn't really describe it.
Before I gave birth, I kept joking to my horrified mother that I was going to live-blog the experience, but even if I'd done that it wouldn't have clarified anything for you. It probably would have looked something like:
5:50 am: First contraction!!!!
5:55 am: Shit, these are close together.
7:30 am: Owwwwwwww.
8:00 am: [Retching sounds]
8:30 am: FUCK EVERYONE IN THE FACE.
|In between contractions, I focused on looking pretty.|
1:00 pm: Jeff again. Dude. I can never unsee this.
1:30 pm: I've been to hell and back. Baby is bare-assed; I'm wearing a diaper. How is this fair?
So before I block it out completely I want to document the sensations of my* birth as best I can.
*Obviously, everyone's experience will be different. One woman's stabbing vagina pain of death is another woman's unrelenting, shooting genital hellfire.
First things first, I skipped early labor. That's the beginning stage in which you supposedly feel relatively mild contractions every half hour or so, but can still do things like bake cookies, watch movies, and walk places without crying. So I don't know what that feels like, but compared to active labor I'm going to assume it feels like dry-humping the Stay-Puft marshmallow man.
Active labor, for me, felt more or less as follows: First, it's like the baby is putting a corset on you, but being a bitch and making it too tight on purpose so you'll pass out at cotillion and ruin your chances of ever dating the heir to an oil fortune (everything I know about high society I learned from Gossip Girl). The pain of contractions wraps around your belly and shoots down through your pelvis. At first you can breathe through them, but soon you have to moan and then yell into a pillow. The corset is suddenly made of knives, and they are stabbing you in your ladybits.
The worst part, for me, was "transition." This means that you are fully dilated and that the baby's head is moving through your cervix. Of course, at the time I didn't know I was in "transition." I thought I was in Dante's heretofore undocumented tenth circle of hell, except instead of Carrot Top attempting to give me an erotic massage, I was simultaneously splitting in half and feeling like I was about to shit on my duvet.
|For the record, these are my other circles of hell.|
The head coming out hurts, y'all. I won't lie. I can't describe it any better than that it feels like what it is: a head coming out of your body. There's a stretching, burning sensation that gets more intense with each push. But by that point you're all, "GET THIS THING OUT OF ME, NOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!!" so the pain takes a backseat to the most focused bearing down you will ever do. Birth makes your worst poop experience seem like shooting down feathers out of a T-shirt cannon.
So basically what I've just told you is that childbirth hurts. Who knew? My insights are invaluable. But seriously, here's something no one else says: the most alien sensation of all is when the body comes out. Because even though you've done the head, and your vagina is passed out cold and your central nervous system is shuddering and pouring itself a shot of Jameson, nothing will prepare you for the feeling of having a set of little arms and legs pulled out of your abdomen and through your baby chute. It's not so much painful as it is incredibly weird. But then you get your wrinkled little spawn plopped on your chest, and the oxytocin starts flowing, and suddenly you are dry-humping Mr. Stay-Puft... with your heart.
Are you vomiting yet? Good. Onto the Q&A, straight from the comments/Facebook!
Did any of your neighbors hear the labor/birth? When you give birth at home, how do you get a birth certificate?
Luckily, both our downstairs and upstairs neighbors were away for the weekend, and our fourth floor neighbors didn't hear a thing. I should totally take back that wine and earplugs, right? And when you give birth at home, your midwife has the birth certificate application form with her, you fill it out, and she mails it to the city clerk, or whoever handles that stuff.
How did Jeff handle things? Was he nervous about the home birth, were you? How long did it last? Are you one of those ladies that say it was the most amazing and beautiful experience ever or was it just "worth it"?
Jeff was amazing. He was there for me throughout the labor, holding me, whispering that he loved me and telling me that I was doing great. He stayed behind me while I was pushing and didn't make any inappropriate comments about my compromised vagina, although he did later tell me that S.'s debut looked like "a hair volcano," since our son's flowing locks preceded him out of the womb.
Neither of us was especially nervous about the home birth. Obviously we knew that if anything went wrong we would need to be rushed to a hospital, which is never a comforting thought. But then again neither of us likes or feels comfortable in hospitals, so we were happy to be in our own apartment. As it turned out, I had an absolutely ideal home birth. My labor only lasted seven hours, and there were no complications whatsoever. And while my birth was amazing in many ways and I wouldn't change a thing, it hurt like fuck which kind of cancels out the beauty. So I'll go with "just worth it."
Circumcised or uncircumcised?
Un. You might have already guessed that based on the fact that I had a hippie home birth. And I know people are VERY opinionated about this issue, but my decision was based on two things: 1) It was not important to Jeff; and 2) We had no religious reason to do it. Sure, I'm not super excited about reading up on how to teach my son to properly clean his wang, but I also couldn't bear the thought of snipping off a part of him. That said, I don't judge anyone who makes the choice to circumcise. And I'll thank you to extend me the same courtesy.
I could not help noticing your eyebrows. Did you wax just before your due date? They look amazing!
Yeah, I put this question in just to flatter myself, but since I spend most days in sweatpants and a vomit-covered sweater, sporting a hairstyle that can best be described as "side ponytail struck by lightning," I need a boost. The answer, gentle reader, is that no, I did not wax my eyebrows pre-labor. It's just that years of maintaining/fighting off a unibrow have given me plucking skills that make me quite the Operation hustler. But like Eeyore might say, thanks for noticing.
And now I will distract you from the fact that I have no ending to this post with a smiling baby.