Tuesday, February 19, 2013

No Pain, No Gain

I find it ironic that so far the only major life event I’ve been stone cold sober for happens to have been the most painful.  I am proud to say that I had a natural, unmedicated birth…and it hurt like a motherf*cker.  I’m not going to beat around the bush here, people.  Childbirth is painful.  In fact, it’s way more painful than you can possibly imagine.  I personally think that water boarding sounds more enjoyable than being in labor for 27 hours, but that’s just my opinion.

I have to admit that I’m proud of myself for not caving in and asking for the epidural.  Based on my history of self-medication simply to handle the pain of everyday life, I’d pretty much assumed there was no way I was actually going to make it through the birth of my son without drugs.  Oh sure, I gave a lot of lip service to doing it naturally, but in the back of my mind I figured I’d probably wimp out.  Considering I’ve never been one to turn down any sort of drug when it was offered, I’m pretty shocked that I didn’t grab the needle out of the doctor’s hand and give myself an epidural. 

I don’t want to bore all of you with the gory details, so I’ll just give you a quick synopsis.  I was in labor for 15 hours; when I got to the hospital I was 6.5cm dilated; I pushed for 45 minutes, and I have quite a few stitches in my lady parts to show for it.  So, yes, overall, I had a quick and easy labor, though using the term “easy” in the context of pushing a human being out of one’s vagina doesn’t really seem appropriate.  Yes, I screamed.  In fact, I screamed pretty loudly.  I also yelled at my husband and at the doctor for not paying attention to me, so I am officially a childbirth cliché.  I did not, however, cry when I finally got to see my newborn son.  I was so freaking exhausted and in shock that I just stared down at this tiny little stranger and told him that the only reason I kept pushing so hard was because the alternative, of staying pregnant forever, seemed so much worse. 

What I really wasn’t prepared for was how much pain I was in after it was all over.  I assumed that because I had a natural birth I would be able to simply hop off the table, walk it off, and resume my normal life.  Oh, boy was I delusional!  No one told me that my entire body would hurt from pushing, that my nether regions would be so swollen I thought I’d somehow turned myself into a man, and that going to the bathroom would be akin to dragging my private parts through a bed of hot coals.  Oh, and the disposable underwear and adult diapers you get to wear for six weeks afterwards are really the tops.  I find it amazing that just 15 minutes of pleasure (or three, if you happen to be dating one of my exes) can lead to so much pain. 

The thing is, it was all worth it.  Sure I’m sore, exhausted, and my baby likes to cry extremely loudly when I’m trying to watch the newest episode of Nashville, but when he looks up at me and smiles, my heart melts.  I honestly had no idea that I was capable of loving someone as much as I love the Muffin Man.  The truth is that the memory of the pain does start to fade after a couple of weeks.  I’ve read that it has something to do with the body releasing endorphins after one gives birth.  That may very well be the case, or it might just be my nightly combination of Percocet and a very dry martini.

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