Fear of the quasi-known

Today I am offically 36 weeks. At least according to some calenders. (I've yet to figure out how I can plug the very same due date into different 'pregnancy calenders' and get different days marking a new week out of 40. Go figure.) Yes, I'm now standing here within a week-ish of being considered full term. I'm within two weeks of when the doctor's would induce me should my blood pressure perform a command performance of rising late term like last time. I am four weeks from my due date and 6 weeks - which seems like YEARS - from when I'd be in for an 'overdue induction.' And with those timelines, I realize that I'm getting scared.

Not so scared that I'd not be thrilled to find myself in active labor, say the end of next week. No, not that scared. But scared in that I still wonder how I'll know "its time." Sure, its my second child. Yes I was induced and delivered vaginally and so yes I had contractions and I'm sure push come to shove (bad pun actually not intended) I'd figure out I was having one should I have to. The thing is, I didn't have to figure it out last time and so I worry about whether or not I'll know in time. I always hear how my mother had just some minor back pains one morning in May of 1973. My Dad felt it best he stay home from work that day, despite the fact that my mother thought him nuts for it. He also thought it good that they go see the doctor. Said doctor thought it even better, upon examination, that they rush to the hosptial and prepare to deliver the baby. I, being stubbornly breech, was born via C-section and so the contractions Mom felt never really reached that "Oh My God, Someone is tearing out my insides!!" stage. I worry that her experience is an indication of what I can expect left on my own. Will I know?

When they started the Cervidil suppository last time I had contractions start within the hour. I remember thinking at the time that it wasn't a whole lot worse than menstrual cramps and in fact that I had a few times in my past where the cramps were actually worse than what I felt at that moment. Even when they started the Pictocin. I kept thinking "This is it? This is the bad part?" At first anyway. And so I worry - will it be that way on my own. Will it be so "huh, that all?" that I don't react and respond.

Of course, then my water broke and the other part responsible for my fear kicks in. Holy cow did that hurt like hell. I can't even count how many times I heard it prior to even trying to get pregnant and then througout pregnancy - "Oh, yeah, labor hurts, but you forget all about it when the baby comes. I mean you remember it hurt, but you can't remember how much exacty." Well I have one thing to say to that - B. S. This load of crap experienced moms feed you about 'forgetting' is just something that comes falling out of mouths as a way to preserve the species. At least it seems that way to me.

It hurt. It hurt a whole lot. I can't even begin to pick words that would describe it. The moment the doctor broke my water I felt such incredible rolling waves of pain I couldn't even suck air in without feeling as if I was being torn to pieces. He asked me if I was ready for the nice man with the drugs to come for a visit and I couldn't even verbalize the thought struggling to form in my brain between blinding cuts that started in my abdomen and radiated outward. Instead of saying "OMG you fool. SEND THAT MAN NOW!" I simply nodded. I wanted to yell "Why didn't you just bring him here when you showed up with that crochet hook of evil?!" But instead I just noisly sucked air in doubled over in overwhelming pain. That part scares the living daylights out of me too. I know its going to hurt like hell at some point and it scares me to think of it.

And then there's the epidural impact. With L I went from having high blood pressure necessitating induction to low pressure necessitating an oxygen mask. I had a nurse freak me out about why the mask - oh, just your and the baby's heart rate slow down a bit more than we'd like to see with contractions. Oh, gee is that all. I was scared then. I begged for the doctor to come and just end it. To just wheel me into surgery and take that baby out before it was too late. And he was wonderful. He was reassuring. He told me we really weren't as dire as bad-bedside made it sound. So we waited for 10 cms. I fear that fear though as well. I worry about finding myself in that spot. Of feeling so out of control of a situtation - of believing your child is in danger and wanting so desperately to save him. Of course, should the aforementioned pain make a 2nd appearance I will not hesitate nodding my desire for the nice man with the drugs.

Finally there was the pushing. I was so exhausted, and frankly famished, after 30+ hours of induction drugs and contractions with no food and no real sleep that I struggled to push effectively. The moment I hit the appropriate number of centimeters the epidural was turned off. By 10 centimeters it had started to wear off considerably. I could feel everything I needed to feel. I had the urge to push. I could feel my body leading me to do so. It simply hurt too badly to ignore it. The only thing that made the pain stop was to work with it. So I did. I worked with it for two hours. And at the end of it, as I winced and cried through an incredible overwhelming pressure mounting between my legs as the baby's head sat just at the edge without emerging, the doctor made his cut. I fear that weariness taking hold again.

And the recovery. You know, there is something to be said for those nice little inflated donuts they give you at the hospital. The episotmy had so many stitches the doctor asked me to come in 2 weeks post-partum to check on me instead of waiting the six. I never asked how many it took because frankly it was better not to know. What I do know is those suckers hurt like hell for weeks on end. I remember crying when I peed because it stung so badly. I remember gingerly sitting and rising as to not irritate the site. I fear that.

When I look back I realize that my fear the first time was of the unknown and as such, honestly, not quite as bad as it is this time. The first time I always had that thought - the "It can't be *that* bad." This time I have my truth and I know the path that may await. I also know that as each pregnancy is different, each delivery is different; I hold onto a hope that maybe this one will be gentler and kinder.

Obviously there is nothing to do now but wait and go through it to the other side. I can't quit. I can't toss in the cards and walk away. . . and I wouldn't want to. The truth is that crap about "forgetting the pain" isn't totally crap, just misworded. You don't forget that it hurt, you just look at your child in your arms and you don't care that it did.

Yes, I fear what I know may await me. I worry about what I didn't get to experience last time and I worry about what did. Yet more than that, I'm anxious to get it started. Its not just that I'm big, sore and miserable so I want to 'get it over with.' Its much more than that. I've planned. I've nested. I've prepared. I've shopped. And now I'm ready. Now I want to meet my child. I want to see the doctor holding her yet-to-be-cleaned body in his hands as she takes her first breath. I want to hold her wrapped in cloth and not be able to do anything more than inhale sharply in awe of this tiny person that just made her grand enterance. I want to see the color her hair seems to be when its still wet with amniotic fluid. I want to hear her first cries and see her gaze at me when I finally manage to utter a word - realizing that she really does indeed recognize my voice after hearing it all these months from 'inside.' I want to meet my child. I want to be able to tell her that I love her and show her by holding her close to me and kissing her soft skin.

I'm ready. . .I'm just impatiently waiting until she is too.


Sarah said...

I hear you on all this. I had my water break before I even had any contractions! I have no idea how labor feels as it slowly builds. I, too, wonder if and how I will know I am in labor if my water doesn't break on it's own.

It will be really interesting to see how these second labor/deliveries go. We both had a bit of a struggle the first time around - hopefully these second ones will be easier...

Jamie said...

My oldest son's birth was brutal beyond my worst imaginings. I felt ashamed to admit how hard it was for me to process, but the truth is it took me three years to let it go.

My second son's birth was unmedicated and really healing. It was tough, but it was about half as long with half as much pushing. Without the pitocin, the pain was doable.

FWIW, my third son was born at home with me joking about "the next time we do this..." during the hardest parts. It was glorious.

Wishing you a peaceful birth and an easy transition to postpartum life.

Moxie said...

Wow. Sounds like a traumatic labor and delivery with your son. And the episiotomy sounds just dreadful! I had the same experience with having that blinding pain as soon as they broke my water.

I don't think you're not going to know when you're in labor, though. You'll probably go into labor on your own, and get to the hospital just in time for your epidural at 5 centimeters. And lets hope you end up with a doctor who knows how to get the baby out without cutting you! They say second babies are faster and easier, so let's hope that's true for you.

Sandy said...

On the episotomy - to be honest, I am totally comfortable with the idea that it was something that needed to be done as opposed to a doctor jumping to it without exploring other options. The reason I went through Cervidil prior Pictocin is that my OB wanted to give me every chance to deliver vaginally despite the fact I had absolutely Z-E-R-O cervical changes indicating I was anywhere NEAR ready to do it on my own. He did everything he could do from the start to avoid all interventions beyond the need to induce. So knowing that - knowing that he worked so hard to avoid a C-section, for example, I'm not faulting him for making the cut. Yeah, this time I'd be estatic to skip it, but hey. . . :) Oh yeah, and I also remember the nurse (who I wasn't a fan of) did attempt to help stretch and massage for those 2 hrs of pushing leading up to the big cut.