My son's first weeks of life were not what we expected: wires, feeding tubes, sensors, incubators, medication, IV needles, bright lights, alarming buzzes and beeps, medical tests and dozens of doctors and nurses around the clock. My son was born prematurely at 33 weeks gestation, and spent his first weeks of life in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).
What the childbirth classes do not prepare women or families for is any deviation from the “typical” 20-plus hours of labor and not having a choice between a drugged or drug-free labor. (I was planning for the “drugged” option, honestly!)
We were looking forward to our Christmas Baby (his estimated due date was December 25th), but the first week of November began with a sudden audible “pop!” at 3 a.m., my water leaking, intense labor pains beginning immediately, and even more intense fear. What is happening?! We rushed to the hospital just ten minutes away (why does this always happen in the middle of the night?), and my son was born within two hours.
This was the scariest, most traumatic moment of my life, as I did not know what was happening to my body, or to my baby. There was no time for drugs; I had no choice. Many women birth “naturally”, hopefully with some sense of determination and confidence in their decision. I delivered vaginally with no drugs, but while tense, terrified and physically trying to hold and squeeze the baby in so he wouldn't come out early. This created more pain and anxiety as you can imagine. I wanted to know why they weren't trying to stop the labor as I was being told to “TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND PUSH!” by the doctor, while I was literally crawling off the table in the opposite direction. My husband said he had not heard so much screaming and curse words from me in his life.
Not my finest moment.
The baby came so quick; I was fully effaced and dilated when we arrived at the hospital. We did not even make it out of the initial exam room into a delivery room. My husband did not have time to remove his winter coat.