Even now, I sometimes get stuck on the fact that Devin was born so quickly. I feel lucky, I suppose, that I didn’t have to endure the pain for very long, but I also feel like I missed… well, everything. The only word I can think of to describe the first few days after his birth is shock.
Obviously I knew I would have a baby, but through all the pregnancy books and personal recounts I read, two things were really drummed into my head – because it was my first pregnancy, I would almost certainly be overdue, and almost certainly be in for a long labour. I believed that so vehemently that for the first half of my labour, I honestly didn’t think I was in labour. And even after my water had audibly broken, even as I was hunched over the car desperately trying to ignore the urge to push, I was still positive it would be hours before anything actually happened. I expected to be in that pain, and worse, for a long time, and I felt dread about that. I really wasn’t expecting a baby to come flying out of me thirty minutes later. Neither was my partner. Neither was the poor baby, judging by his stunned silence and floppy-ish start to life.
I was in labour for about four hours, but only two of those felt like labour. The actual pushing and birth was minutes. I spent more time in the delivery room getting the cuts from his fingernails sutured than I did delivering. I was so shocked that I couldn’t feel much else, including a rush of love for my baby. It was more a sense of, here is the new person who I will love forever. Just fact. Not a feeling.
I have always felt silly holding on to these feelings, until I read this really gripping story of a woman who gave birth in a taxi, and especially this –
I remember what Shara, our birthing class teacher, told us about quick births. Sure, you have LESS time in labor (aka less pain), but some part of the process goes missing.
In all of my reading and classes, this was never mentioned. The fact that labour might actually be an important part of birth, and not just for the obvious physical reasons. You might be tempted to say I had nine and a bit months to get ready for a baby, but it’s not as simple as that. I mean, think of it this way – I had nine months of waiting and wondering and planning. Nine months of sharing my body with someone I hadn’t met yet, of getting used to his constant company. Nine months before the rest of my life. Then, with barely a few hours warning, he was out and in my arms. It was a sudden, harsh transition, and yes, I still think about it.
I loved being pregnant, and nothing has ever been that exciting for me. I may be pregnant again one day, but it won’t be the same excitement and unknown as my first time. So the fact that I can barely remember the birth has not been easy to resolve. It has not, ironically, been easy to forget.