I had my baby! Two weeks ago! I haven’t been writing (or doing much other than taking care of my baby, and staring in awe and amazement at her), but fully intend to keep up with the blog now that she’s here.
I have been wanting to write down what my labor and delivery was like, and what it’s been like after taking her home from the hospital.
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been battling agoraphobia/panic disorder for a long time now, so I’m also going to talk about those things in relation to going through such a huge thing.
During my pregnancy I searched around the web desperate to find someone who had been through pregnancy while having full-blown can’t-leave-the-house-agoraphobia. I didn’t find much of anything… so I hope that if anyone reading this is going through something similar, maybe it will help (maybe it will scare you, because I’m going to be as real as possible, but hopefully not), and feel free to ask me any questions, or reach out if you need someone to talk to.
I went into labor at 7AM on a Friday morning and gave birth at 3:09AM on Sunday. I was in labor for about 44 hours.
At first the labor pain was manageable. I even took a bath and shaved my legs, and tried to relax a bit. My mom, grandmother, Aunt, Rex and a wonderful friend were all there for me throughout most of my labor. I squeezed Rex’s hand pretty much the entire time.
I had been doing meditations for a few months prior to going into labor. I was doing silent meditations as well as guided meditations through an app called Headspace (highly recommended). With every contraction I found myself counting my in and out breaths up to ten, like the app suggests you do during their meditations. I hadn’t taken any birthing classes and I didn’t have a doula (not for lack of trying to find a good match), but I have to say that trying to go into each contraction as a meditation worked wonders.
I was timing my contractions, waiting for them to get close enough together to go to the hospital. Throughout the whole time, my biggest fear remained the car ride to the hospital. Despite the physical pain I was in, I was terrified of having a panic attack due to the same issues that I’d been battling for a long time.
The contractions continued to get more intense and closer together. I labored at home for around thirty hours, until I was in so much physical pain that I kind of snapped and said, “I take back what I said about wanting no medication, get me to the hospital, I want an epidural, I’m hitting my pain limit.”
We waited for my next contraction to come on, and when it was done I rushed into the car and we drove to the hospital.
And… the car ride was nothing. I closed my eyes the whole time and listened to Destiny’s Child. It was kind of funny – I kept wanting to listen to Destiny’s Child, despite there being an epic playlist of carefully curated music that I had made.
The car ride was over before I knew it, and as I got out and into a wheel chair, I wondered why I had been making such a big deal about it. It hadn’t been a big deal. It was fine. Then I just had to concentrate on labor… Except, they wanted me to get in an elevator. I’m very afraid of elevators, so I got out of the wheelchair and walked up the flight of stairs, much to everyones disapproval and astonishment.
(After reading, Rex wants me to point out that he was “initially chagrined and then extremely proud of you for being really bad ass and sticking to your guns.”)
We finally made it into one of the rooms, and I changed into the maternity gown that I had bought online (pink with polka dots, way cuter than the hospital gowns). I know that I was in that room for a while, but it’s already hazy two weeks later.
Finally they took me into another room where they gave me fentnyl for the pain. This was probably the scariest part for me. I have a fear of feeling high, and the fentanyl didn’t take the pain away, it just made me feel completely out of it and high, which wasn’t very fun. My friend was really helpful in talking me through that part – she has a lot of similar anxieties to me, and could relate to my fear/feeling uncomfortable under the influence.
After a lot of going back and forth about the epidural, I decided to get it. I was terrified. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to walk, and would be totally stuck to the bed. For an agoraphobic, I sure have an awful lot of fears about being stuck somewhere. I kept calling the anesthesiologist back into the room so I could ask him a bunch of questions pertaining to my irrational (and some maybe kind of rational) fears about the epidural. He was patient and helpful, and after a lot of “okay I’ll get it… no no, I’m too scared to get it… Oh god, ow this is too painful, I’ll get it…”, I finally got it.
It kind of worked initially, which was relieving, but then it felt like my contractions were at their most painful, and I could feel everything except my left leg.
I had the perfect analogy for how this felt, and as per usual, I found a way to explain it using something from Harry Potter.
I felt like this:
When Harry is on the Quidditch pitch getting chased by the rogue bludger, and then he falls and breaks his arm. Professor Lockhart comes and tells him not to worry, and that he will fix his arm. Harry protests, but Lockhart insists and does a spell to fix it. Except, that instead of fixing it, he removes all of the bones in Harry’s arm, and Harry has to spend the night in the hospital wing regrowing the bones back.
That’s how my left leg felt. The boneless jelly part. I must have explained this to several different nurses who were completely unfamiliar with Harry Potter, and who all gave me kind of funny looks about it. I tend to assume everyone is super familiar with Harry Potter, but that’s rarely the case.
(After reading this, Rex wants me to point out that I kept calling it my “floppy leg.” And would start yelling “stop touching my floppy leg!” or, “hey, that’s my floppy leg!)
They ended up giving me more epidural, but this did nothing but increase the wobbly jello feeling of my poor left leg. And for some reason everyone in the room kept wanting to touch my leg, which just felt creepy.
The contractions continued to get worse, and worse, and worse, and things were seeming pretty intense.
When I started to lose it, and began snapping at everyone, and I could no longer focus on counting my in and out breaths, they told me that I could start pushing.
And I pushed for five minutes, and then my beautiful baby girl was placed on me.
And she was perfect.
And I thought that I would do it all over again a hundred times, just to have that moment with her. And by all of it, I mean all of it. The hell it felt like during pregnancy trying to get to appointments. A thousand panic attacks, all the anxiety, everything.
It was all worth it.
I’ve never felt my entire being filled with more love in an instant, than when they put my daughter on me.
Up until that point, I knew there was a baby inside of me, and I loved her, but it didn’t feel so real or so wonderful as that moment felt.
And that feeling persisted.
It persisted so intensely that I didn’t sleep for four days straight. I was overfilling with love and deep feelings of joy and connection to this little being that my body had created.
It was like, after all of the hard times I’d been through, finally there was a breath of fresh crisp air, and calm, and peace, and ease. And everything was okay. Better than okay – everything was perfect.
My entire life had been brewing up until this point, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. All the wishing for things to have been different than they were completely vanished, and I was filled with the most intense feelings of love and gratitude for everything that I had been through.
And I immediately felt thankful that things had been so difficult – because I was overcome with the sense that I was now able to overcome any obstacle that life threw at me from that point onward. I was overcome with the feeling of being so strong. All that time spent afraid that my body would black out or pass out, or somehow fail on me was replaced with a feeling of being invincible – with a feeling that I trusted my body. My body was capable of so much more than I had ever imagined it was. My body had made something so beautiful and perfect, and had gone through so much pain and stress, and it knew exactly what to do the entire time. And I was safe, and she was safe, and nothing could get between that.
And all of the worrying about myself was transferred to this beautiful person outside of myself. Constantly checking to make sure she’s okay.
I had been afraid that they would make me stay in the hospital prior to giving birth, because I felt that I knew I would want to get back home and to my safe space as soon as possible… but the hospital became a new safe space, and I felt happy to be there. I was happy that I could call on a nurse any time of the day or night if I ever had a question or needed help with something. I was happy to be away from my house that I had spent so much time cooped up inside of. I was happy there was a balcony to sit on outside. I was happy.
After giving birth, I felt like I had just fought a war and won. I felt like a warrior – fearless, full of courage, and victorious.
I named my daughter Artemis, after the Greek Goddess. Goddess of the moon, the hunt, protector of women and children, of the forest and the animals.
I remained a little bit nervous about the ride home from the hospital… but the feeling of being strong persisted. I didn’t close my eyes once on the drive. Instead, I looked around, and it felt more normal to be riding in a car than it had in over a year.
I’ve learned that we are stronger than we could have ever possibly imagined.
I’ve learned that sometimes all of the difficulties, pain and heartache that we go through can be completely worth it, and that it’s possible to even feel grateful for the darkest times in our lives.
I still have a long way to go as far as my anxiety, phobias, and panic are concerned – but I have a renewed feeling of hope, of strength, courage, willpower and gratitude for absolutely everything. I’ve overcome so much just in the process of making this beautiful baby, and I know that I will be able to overcome so much more.
All of us can, and you don’t need to have a baby to do that. I feel like that was my extra push, but I know that each of you can find yours as well.
We are stronger, more courageous, more awesome, and more beautiful than we’ve ever imagined we are. That’s what my daughter taught me just minutes after she was born, and I can’t wait to learn the rest.
Thank you so much for reading, and to the wonderful people who read my blog. You gave me so much strength through my pregnancy journey, and I am so grateful to all of you – who commented, who blog, who write, who inspire and share. You are beautiful, and I’m grateful to be able to share one of the happiest moments of my life with you.
Also, of all the songs on my gigantic playlist, my daughter was born while Survivor while Destiny’s Child was playing.