I spent the first 30 years of my life in blissful ignorance. I happily assumed that when the time came to do this baby thing, it would be dramatic and terribly painful and *just* like the movies.
Check it: My water would break on the pavement of some chic urban neighborhood, ending a critical argument with someone significant and ruining my designer shoes (what??) and I would be whisked away in a taxi (double what??), cut to me posed spread-eagle on a hospital bed, screaming and cursing at my husband, the whole scene ending with a beautiful shot of the two of us (makeup and hair perfectly situated) cradling a plump newborn (who in appearance is probably more like 9 weeks old).
History has proved this scenario to be not only wrong, but totally laughable. I think I can say with confidence that this is true for most women.
Because I am not most women, I cannot vouch for the extent to which the usual childbirth experience varies from the Hollywood experience...but I can say that *my* experiences haven't been even remotely similar. And it's not just because I would never pay 800 bucks on a pair of shoes.
For starters, no one told my boys they were supposed to stay put for 40 weeks. There is apparently a sign posted inside my uterus claiming eviction will occur after 31 weeks and they both took it very seriously.
PART ONE: Water breaks, Dolces ruined:
With #1, my membrane ruptured at 31 weeks and one day. The only thing that was ruined was the upholstery on my grandmother's dining room set -- oh, and one hell of a St Patrick's day party.
With #2, there was no dramatic water-breaking scene (until the delivery room), only a tearful admission to the hospital following failure of a scheduled non-stress test -- measures contractions -- and the discovery that I was 3cm dilated (at 30 weeks, 2 days).
PART TWO: Taxi cab flies through urban streets
With #1, I was chauffeured to the hospital by a very pregnant girlfriend, who got the job mainly because there was no other sober alternative, and accompanied by my not-so-sober husband.
With #2, I was rolled down the hallway from my peri-natal room to Labor and Delivery on a hospital bed that may as well have been drinking. It was like when you select a shopping cart with a broken wheel that keeps pulling left...except we couldn't just swap it out for another from the cart corrale. Calamity, all around
PART THREE: Spread-eagle, cursing and shouting.
With #1, there was a little shouting, mainly in despair over not having made it to a birthing class or even read as far as the delivery chapter of What to Expect... and not directed at my husband because he was out grabbing pizza at the time.
With #2, no shouting to speak of. There were frequent attempts to crawl out of my own skin in all directions, yes... and for whatever reason the whole thing culminated with me being denied an epidural (too late sister!) and counting to 10 over and over like a lunatic.
PART FOUR: Adoring parents and snoozing enorma-newborn.
Here is the part that makes me cry. Both my precious boys were whisked promptly into recovery rooms where they scored appalling initial APGARs (3 and 2, respectively) and were subsequently rushed to the NICU in isolets. Both still had their peach-fuzzy and pruned skin, low muscle tone (from that damn magnesium) and impossibly tiny bodies. We couldn't hold them for at least a day while they stabilized.
Oh, and I looked like sh*t after both deliveries.