Blog 06: Expect the Unexpected
By: Abby Custer
“When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for the joy that a human being has been born into the world.” John 16:21
Isn’t it awesome how the bible speaks right to us and continues to be relevant thousands of years after it was written? I can tell you firsthand that this verse speaks truth. Labor is harder than any other physical thing that my body has ever gone through, but the pain became a distant memory the second that perfect baby was in my arms. So let’s talk about birth, and what that experience may or may not look like for you. It may seem strange, but I love to hear other people’s birth stories, and I love to tell mine. Maybe it’s because they are all a little different, and that’s exactly what makes them our stories. Can I tell you my story real quick? With my first baby, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Everyone told me something different, and the advice was all over the map (“Don’t get Pitocin, you’ll end up with a C-section!” “Get an epidural, you won’t feel a thing!”). Ha! What no one told me was how much it hurt. Like wow. I didn’t expect a fast labor by any means, but that’s exactly how it went. My husband and I had made plans to take our pup to the kennel, get everything situated at home, and then mozy on over to the hospital. I even bought popsicles to eat because I was hoping for a natural birth (one of the perks of not getting an epidural is that you are able to eat). However, things went a little differently than the plan I had constructed in my head. Insert my water breaking all over our bathroom floor and driving 100 mph because I was trying not to push my baby out in the car. Our dog was left to fend for himself, and my popsicles melted into a puddle on the hospital floor.
My first labor lasted about three hours (I know, you hate me right now, because this is definitely not the norm). But man was it scary. After a nurse literally ran while pushing my wheelchair to the room and stripped off my clothes, I realized we were in trouble because my midwife had not even left her house yet (you know, first baby and all, we had hours to go…). I was 10 centimeters, but the pushing part lasted a little longer. With my second baby, I was determined to be more vigilant in knowing that I was in fact in labor. But once again, I found myself questioning if these were Braxton Hicks or “real” contractions (it’s my second time, shouldn’t I know?). This time the experience was much calmer, and thankfully this midwife was much more proactive with knowing my fast laboring pattern. It was less scary too because I knew what was coming. I knew the pain would be almost unbearable. Almost. But I also knew that I could do this and that it would bring forth something so amazing and so worth every second of that pain.
So what should you expect when you are giving birth? You should expect the unexpected. Remember, everyone else’s story is just that – theirs, and theirs alone. Yours can look and be the way that you want it to, but there’s also a very real possibility that something unexpected, like an emergency C-section, a failed epidural, or a 30-hour labor is going to happen. And that’s okay. That’s what makes it your story.
So let’s talk about a few things that no one ever mentions because the truth is that most of these things will indeed happen during your delivery:
*You will probably throw up and poop yourself. You might not even notice.
*The “Ring of Fire” is a real thing and I’m not referring to Johnny Cash’s song – check it out here: https://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/crowning/
*People will be in and out of your room, checking on you, seeing you in your most vulnerable state, and you may not even being aware of this happening sometimes
*After birth, the process is not quite finished yet, the placenta is delivered, some stitches may be needed if there was any tearing
*Going to the bathroom for the first time after giving birth may be difficult and painful. Your nurse will help you with this. Thank her. She has seen you through this entire process and is still with you now.
*Nursing may be difficult at first. Trust your body and its ability to care for your baby. It’s okay to not nurse.
*Your body has just done an amazing thing. Give yourself time to recover and rest. Lots of people are going to want to see and share this moment with you, but it’s okay to have a moment just for yourself first.
*Sitz baths are your friend.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” Psalm 46:1-5