I kicked this series off with the story of my latest baby girl, #7, born about six weeks ago. (Click HERE for that one.) Now it’s time to back up and start from the beginning.
My husband and I were married on the feast of St. Agnes, January 21st, 2006. From the earliest part of dating, we both knew that we wanted a big family. So once we were hitched, there was no waiting for such things as a bigger home or more income. Nope. In fact, we were renting a little craftsman-style house in Duluth, MN, and I was still finishing up my degree in Catholic Studies in St. Paul.
It took us a whole month to get pregnant, and we were excited! She was to be the first grandchild on both sides of the family. Our first move was to move, literally. We didn’t want to live in Duluth anymore, as it seemed to snow perpetually–something called “Lake Effect” snow. (It’s terrible.) And we wanted grandparents around.
So six months later we ended up in North Dakota. (This is where my husband was born and raised.) He promised me that on the western side of the state, it didn’t snow very much and was warmer. I remember him saying, “Sure it’s warmer! We used to golf in December in Dickinson.” HA! Our first three years here were record-breaking snow-fall years.
In any case, my first child was a dream pregnancy. I could have been one of those pregnant models in those fake, glossy maternity magazines in OBGYN offices. (You know, the ones that make every real mother feel terribly for having swollen ankles and stretch marks.) I was able to run a few miles all the way up until two weeks before she was born. I had zero problems. You bet I felt great!
And I had no idea what was coming, for I came from a small family and had never even held a baby until mine was born. You could say I was about to have the shock of a lifetime.
Labor & Delivery
After arriving in North Dakota, settling down, and purchasing our first house, it was time to have a baby.
The night of November 13th, after my husband and I had just gone to bed, I suddenly felt a wetness all around me. Naturally, I wondered if maybe I had accidentally urinated? I had read that that could happen, so I went to the bathroom to check. Then I yelled for my husband to go get that pregnancy book, so I could look it up. This water didn’t smell like urine after all.
It was, of course, my “bag” of water. Contractions began soon after that. I did know enough that I’d probably have plenty of time before needing to go into the hospital, so I took a shower at 11pm, put my makeup on, and styled my hair. Who knows how long it might take? I wanted to look good. (Vain. Just vain.) Then we drove to the hospital.
I had also read in some condescending pregnancy article that it was best to not have any drugs or medication, if possible. So I decided to not have an epidural, or any other drugs. I was going to do this all on my own and show all those other “weak” mothers how it was done. (What a self-righteous prig I was.)
Well, it was a long, long 12 hours of sheer hell. And I deserved every pit of pain too. In the end, I broke down and had a dose of Nubain because I started to hyperventilate. Again, I had no idea what to expect.
Thankfully, after tearing and with the aid of an episiotomy, Baby #1 was born. And I was relieved. What an experience.
The Worst Was Yet to Come.
I didn’t know, however, that the worst was yet to come. Remember, I had no experience with babies whatsoever. None. I didn’t know that I’d be up all night. I was used to my 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I didn’t know that I’d have hemorrhoids. I didn’t know that nursing a baby could hurt so badly – like someone with a knife slicing off my flesh and then burning it with red hot coals. This mothering business was painful!
My own mother, God bless her soul, came to help me for a few days. She was wonderful to have around, especially to hold the screaming baby for a few hours, so that I could sleep. But she only stayed for a short while. The night before she left, I remember bawling uncontrollably in my husband arms because I felt like I was living in a black hole, with no light at the end of the tunnel. My life would forever involve a screaming baby and a terribly aching body. I had a complete meltdown.
Truly, the next two months were very dark. Looking back now, I can see that I was suffering from Postpartum Blues or Depression. It was mentally, physically, and emotionally draining, but I survived it, mostly with the support of my husband. He was just as clueless as I was, but was able to keep his wits about him.
I learned a lot from this pregnancy. Firstly, never again would I look down on any mother who would choose to have medication during labor and delivery. In fact, I think it would have helped me greatly to relax, especially since absolutely everything was so new to me. Secondly, I would never again scoff at any mother having difficulty with nursing, or getting up at night, or anything else related to motherhood. It’s just downright hard at times.
Conclusion & Light At the End of the Tunnel
While this first pregnancy was awesome, easy, and glamorous, everything afterwards was not. It was confusing, dark, and difficult. Thankfully, I would never again experience that kind of postpartum darkness again.
And of course, it was all worth it. Every bit of it.
Stay tuned for future additions of, “Birth Stories Are Never Boring,” as I attempt to relate Babies #2,3,4,5, & 6, wherein the pregnancies increase in difficulty, but where the labor and deliveries become a little easier!