What I Didn’t Know (or thought I knew, but didn’t) About Pregnancy/Labor

Writer’s Note: I honestly have been wanting to write on this topic for a long time, but I was scared of how graphic I think I’ll be, and I know there are a lot of people who don’t want to read that. But at the same time, giving birth is graphic!! Like super, super graphic.

So yeah – if you are uncomfortable with reading about my personal experience/about the female anatomy, stop now!! Cause I am pretty blunt.


For those who are unaware, we were not planning on having Jack. That does not make him any less loved; on the contrary, I have learned more about love and how to love while being his mom than I ever could have imagined prior to getting pregnant.

Another thing to note for those who don’t know – my mom died when I was 12 years old. I literally got my period for the first time A MONTH after her death. #stressed. Fun awkward fact: I thought you only bled when you peed. That was not the case. I had some embarrassing moments.

I didn’t know I was pregnant yet, but I remember vividly feeling “off” the night before I took the test. It felt like a mixture of nausea and menstrual cramps. I figured either I was about to start my period, or I was pregnant. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner. The next day, I took the test, and there it was, that + sign. “Oh my gosh,” I said. “YES!” Wes proclaimed! He started jumping up and down with joy. He wasn’t about to go through 9 (more like 10) months of extreme physical and emotional change.

I was lucky. I didn’t have extreme morning sickness like some do. But I did have a lot of other-end sickness, if you know what I mean – and that sucked when I was at work. How embarrassed I felt! I didn’t want anyone to know!

Here’s another tidbit about me – there is not a single person in the world, well besides Jack who is a baby, that I feel comfortable passing gas in front of. So do you think I was super crazy about the idea of needing to use the facilities for that kind of need in a public place?! This is just the beginning of things you deal with when pregnant.

Skip ahead to the second trimester. I started getting horrible headaches. Every. Single. Day. I mean, debilitating. Apparently, it was a posture thing that can happen when pregnant. Cause yeah – bowling ball starting to form on my abdomen.

OH! Another super awkward thing. So you have a lot of exams. The first ultrasound is actually done with a wand they stick right up on in there. I was not prepared for that. That was not my favorite thing.

Another thing that I wasn’t prepared for: how upset I was at the fact that I wasn’t allowed to lose weight, in fact, I was supposed to gain it. At the time of getting pregnant, I was actually trying to lose weight. I was so mad, for literally the entire first trimester, about the fact that I was having to gain weight. I don’t think I started “enjoying” the fact that I was pregnant until about week 16 or 17 when I could feel those special first flutters of movement. When I think about that, it makes me excited to be pregnant again… But not yet!!

The second trimester really is pretty great. You’re feeling better, you can feel the baby moving, you get to learn gender, you’re showing but not super huge – pregnant life is (mostly) grand.

Second Trimester – Feeling Good, Feeling Great

And then the third trimester hits…

“This is happening! I’m going to have a baby! I’m not ready! Why can’t I sleep at night? Why do I have heartburn every. single. night?! Give me all of the foods, I’m huge anyway!! Do I really have to do this?!”

The third trimester is when it gets really real. It’s a mixture of wanting it to be over and not wanting the birth to ever happen. Life will literally change forever in an instant. It’s a great change in so many ways, but for me, it was very, very difficult. More on that later.

I have never been one to sleep with anything in bed with me. I like a single pillow under my head. I never had stuffed animals or blankets that I slept with as a kid. That changed while I was pregnant.

I decided not to spend $$ on one of those specially designed pregnancy pillows. Instead, I used a long pillow from Target between my legs and a normal pillow behind my back every night. I kept a tub of Tums next to my bed and ate about 3-6 throughout each night. Probably for a good 8-10 weeks. Maybe more.

Just a quick reminder that I literally didn’t know about any of this until I was pregnant. Like, you see in movies that people are uncomfortable, but they really don’t show you how “un-glamorous” the whole shebang really is.

Let’s skip ahead to December 24, 2016 at 2:00am. Oh, and this is probably a good time to tell you that Jack’s due date was January 1, 2017, and all I wanted for Christmas was for him to not be born on Christmas. LOLOLOLOLOL.

So yes, it’s the wee hours of Christmas Eve. I have woken up at literally 2:00am (I looked at my phone) and needed to pee—that’s the one thing I *did* know going in to this whole thing – I was going to pee a lot. I go to the bathroom, and as I am about to crawl back in bed, my water breaks. I know it must be that because I had just peed, and although it’s very common to tinkle just a little more after using the bathroom (so many underwear changes), this was like a whole new level of liquid.

I couldn’t believe it. I was in the 15% of women whose water actually breaks on its own! Oh crap! I’m going to have a baby! And it’s Christmas Eve! Better wake up Wes.

I started pounding on the bed and yelling at Wes that it was time. I looked like a crazy person. Here’s where I really didn’t know what to expect.

Apparently, when your water breaks, you keep leaking. Like, it’s a constant flow. I didn’t realize that. I immediately grabbed a huge maxi pad that I was told I needed to buy for after having a baby, and proceeded to soak it through. I went through about 3 or 4 before we left the house.

Also, there was blood on the pad. That can’t be right?! I called the nurse. It was fine, that’s normal. Phew!

An hour after my water breaking, we are on the way to the hospital thanks to my dad. I’m still leaking and hating every second of it. But I wasn’t in any pain. Like, no contractions as far as I could tell. But because my water broke, we had to go in.

Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 3.24.54 PM
About to leave for the hospital. Is this actually happening??

Here’s another tidbit about me. I’m a very modest person. Well, I used to be more so, but there are still a lot of areas where I’m pretty modest. For instance, I didn’t see a male doctor my entire pregnancy. I had a good feeling I’d get a male doctor for the delivery, because that’s my life, I never get what I want usually (like, ya know, a son not being born on Christmas!), but I knew my female doctor that I had been seeing was on call the 23rd. Lo and behold, at 3:30am she was still there!

So here’s another thing I didn’t know: when you arrive to the hospital, it takes forever for you to get “checked in.” I was in this room getting asked all of these questions and having things poked into me and my temperature taken… it felt like forever. And I still wasn’t in pain.

My doctor came by and let me know she’d be off duty at 7am, and that Dr. Thor Svendsen would be taking over. I’m sorry, what? An Avenger will be delivering my baby? Before Dr. Graham left that morning, she got me started on pitocin at 6:30am. Soon I understood what contractions were.

Oh. My. Gosh. Contractions suck. They are like the worst period cramps you will ever have. You can’t even think sometimes when they are happening. I tried to be really tough, but four hours later, at 10:30am, I asked for the epidural. But you have to wait until the one anesthesiologist can fit you in with the many other women who were smarter than you and asked for it right away.

Finally, at about 12:30pm, I had an epidural and life was so, so good again. The thing about epidurals are, you can’t feel below your waist. So you can’t get up and go anywhere, which means you need a catheter. Again, another thing that I wasn’t too thrilled about – my urine was just flowing through a tube for any visitors to see. Sure, they tried to make it discreet, but I know the tube was visible hanging out of my sheets!

I guess I felt good enough to take a selfie…

I met Dr. Thor. He was nice, but kinda… different. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. He’d pop in every couple of hours to check and see how dilated I was. I was moving a little slower than he’d have liked.

See, once your water breaks, you have 24 hours to deliver, or you need a c-section. I was trying to avoid that at all costs, so I was really worried. Finally, at about 10:00pm, I was at 10cm and was ready to push. Oddly enough, that day flew. And so did pushing until the last 30 minutes.

So when you’re in labor, you can only have clear liquids like chicken broth and Sprite. Jello is an option too. I made the mistake of having red Jello right before starting to push. Yeah I threw that ish up.

When you are told to push, they say to imagine you are pushing out a big poop. Not even kidding. And that is exactly what it feels like. It is horrible. Many women do, in fact, have a bowel movement while pushing. This was my biggest nightmare before I went into labor. Remember when I talked about not letting anyone in on that part of my life?! Well, I must say, I was quite lucky. I might have had a tiny little bit, but I don’t think Wes could even see it before the nurse had covered it up. #stayclassy

I pushed for 2 hours before Jack’s head crowned. At that point, Dr. Thor came in to deliver Jack. Now, it’s important to note that I had a slight fever. So there was some concern that the baby would have a fever too. Because of this, an entire team of nurses was needed to be in the room, and I wasn’t going to be able to have a lot of time with Jack when they first put him on my chest.

I’m the kind of person who worries about everything. I believe that information is the key to getting over fear. I wanted to know what problems could arise, but all I was told was that he wanted to be prepared “just in case.” Just in case, what?! No answer.

Which is why when Jack was finally delivered and put on my chest, I asked, “What’s wrong with him?!” You see, I didn’t realize that he would be as purple as he was, and I also didn’t remember (or maybe never knew) that his head would be cone shaped since he, ya know, just traveled through the birth canal.

Speaking of, I wasn’t done giving birth yet. I still had the placenta to deliver. Let me tell you, after popping out a 7 lb 6 oz baby, the placenta was a freaking breeze. That thing looks like an alien though. It was on a metal tray, and I swear, if I hadn’t literally just pushed it out, I would have thought that it had once been alive. Like a thing out of Stranger Things or something. Oh, and uh, yeah no, I did not eat it.

Finally, I think, I can have my baby and be done with all of this and life will be grand again!

HA! Wrongo! I stayed in the bed for what felt like 45 minutes (I genuinely have no idea how long it really was) getting stitched up because I had a 2.5 out of 4 degree tear. Yeah, that whole being modest thing. That went out the door. Here’s Dr. Thor all up in my business, literally sewing me from pee-hole to b-hole. So. Embarrassing.

I do want to say really quickly: Dr. Thor Svendsen was absolutely the best doctor for me that Christmas. He pushed me to the point of being able to literally push Jack as opposed to having a c-section, and he gave me the encouragement that I needed when I felt really overwhelmed. It was probably for the best that he didn’t tell me all of the wrong that could have happened with Jack (he was fine BTW), and he told me I should definitely have more kids because I did a good job. That made me really happy.

I didn’t see Jack for hours. They took him away to make sure he was good (cause of the whole fever thing), and I still couldn’t move my legs. Again, after being stitched up, I thought, “Finally! I’m done!” Nope. They had to move me to the post-delivery room where we’d be for 2 more nights. I would be spending Christmas in the hospital.

The next 48+ hours are a bit of a blur. Highlights:

  • being in a huge amount of pain from ripping open while giving birth
  • leaking lots and lots of blood
  • getting examined very, very often at all of those places you usually cover up
  • not being able to poop for fear of ripping stitches back open (you can’t do that)/being in a ton of pain (yeah, that’s a thing). I literally didn’t poop once at the hospital. That was horrible.
  • trying to breastfeed and allowing strangers to watch me stick my nipple in my son’s mouth and letting them help me
  • having cracked and sore nipples from trying to breastfeed
  • already not being an adequate enough mom (or so I felt) because I needed a nipple shield to get Jack to latch
  • not knowing how to console my crying son
  • feeling really guilty about not feeling as maternal as I thought I would have

Ouch – that last one was really hard to write. But it’s true. I remember thinking I was going to have this immediate unconditional love. And I did love him. But it wasn’t as passionate as I thought it would be. I certainly didn’t want any harm to come to him. But I also wasn’t necessarily trying to hold him all the time. I still felt very selfish. I didn’t feel like a mom yet. That feeling probably didn’t come for awhile, actually.

I really had no idea that for the next 4-6 weeks, I’d be in pain down there and bleeding continuously. No tampons allowed, so I had to sit in nasty maxi pads for a really long time. I had ice on my lady parts. I couldn’t walk well. Pooping was agonizing. And I was supposed to be taking care of an infant now??

Breastfeeding is exhausting. Pumping hurts, at least it did for me. Jack was jaundice, so we had to start supplementing formula. We never stopped. My milk took forever to come in. It wasn’t easy!! Jack slept horribly during the night. I was really, really unhappy.

I felt guilty for being so selfish. I wanted my mom. Gosh, more than anything I wanted my mom! Who else could I talk to about my leaking vagina?! Or my sore nipples?! Or the fact that this crying child is driving me insane! Sure, Wes could hear me, but he couldn’t understand. It was a really hard time.

I tried to remind myself that I needed to be grateful that there were no complications. The entire pregnancy, there were no problems! What an answer to prayer! And yet, I had spent the majority of the time complaining because I hadn’t wanted to get pregnant then. And once I had my baby, I spent the next many months complaining about how hard it was. But more on that for another post.

There you have it—that was my experience of being pregnant and giving birth. I left so much out; there’s no way I could have included it all. But it’s my story, and if you were able to learn one thing that will help you one day when you give birth or help you understand what someone who is close to you is going through when they are pregnant or giving birth, that will make me happy 🙂



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