posted in Pregnancy
Childbirth is said to be a natural process and that, when it’s happening, your body just takes over, as it did for billions of women, for centuries. At least that’s what I figured when I went into labor with my first child.
Um, wrong. Because when it came to pushing, I was clueless, and this stage took longer than the last time I stood in line at the DMV, waiting to renew my driver’s license.
I’ll set the scene for you: There I was, having recently received an epidural, when my labor and delivery nurse informed me it was time to push. She explained that I should bear down, and, well, push into my bottom, almost like I was trying to go poop. Sounded easy enough. Except it wasn’t.
If pushing had been easy, then it wouldn’t have taken me two hours to meet my baby. Honestly, my doctor looked bored after a while as I pushed and pushed and nothing much seemed to happen.
Looking back, I think part of my issue was that I’d gotten the epidural, and couldn’t feel a damn thing. When it was time to push, my nurse and doctor had to tell me to do it. There was definitely a disconnect between my body and my brain. I would learn during two subsequent deliveries that pushing without an epidural is easier, at least for me. More painful, yes, but it worked more efficiently, and my babies were out much more quickly.
Back to my first delivery, and me attempting to push. And realizing that this was far from the Kumbaya, just me and Mother Nature experience, I’d envisioned.
As time dragged on and on, I grew more and more fatigued, and frustrated. That’s when fear took over. I remember looking up at my husband, feeling completely desperate, and telling him repeatedly, “I can’t do this.”
That’s when they brought in an oxygen mask for me to use, and I panicked. Feeling claustrophobic and deeply discouraged, not to mention exhausted, I somehow managed to tune into my nurse’s instructions of when to push, and finally, after what seemed like forever, my husband reported he saw our daughter’s hair. Knowing I would meet her soon was all I needed to get across the finish line, and deliver her.
I was holding my baby. I’d done it. But not without having first endured miserable hours of feeling like I had no control over my own body, and truly doubting I could do what generations of women had done before me.
My takeaway for soon-to-be moms is this: Ultimately, you can do it, just like I did. Even if you have moments of feeling convinced you can’t. But don’t be surprised if pushing, or any other phase of labor, doesn’t just unfold naturally and with ease. Not every labor and delivery will feel like an Enya song.
Childbirth can be messy, painful, beyond-challenging, and may “push” you to question your body’s ability, or even your own sanity. But no matter how much self-doubt you experience, no matter how grueling the process is, whether your birth is a breeze, or more like a storm, the one thing all births have in common is they are worth it.
Did pushing come naturally to you? Or, if you are pregnant, are you fearful about this phase of labor?