GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) — You’ve made it through nine (actually almost 10) long months of pregnancy. You’re almost done with the aches, pains, weird body issues, morning sickness, exhaustion, pregnancy brain and everything in-between.
Though many women say, “pregnancy is such a beautiful thing” by the time you get to the end you’re likely feeling less than beautiful and more like a giant whale. Don’t worry you’re on the home stretch now! It’s almost over and I promise your toes are still down there, even though you can’t see them.
Now as your due date grows closer your anxiety is probably growing too. That’s normal. As a first time mommy-to-be you have no idea what to expect. What will a contraction really feel like? Will I know it’s a contraction? How bad is the epidural? Will I get there too late to get one? How bad is this whole pushing thing… really?
It’s scary. The fear of the unknown and your active imagination is likely running wild at this point. As a mom who had a zero pain tolerance and knew zero about children (let alone babies) let me put your mind at ease.
A letter for moms-to-be
Dear Momma To Be,
You’re scared. I know, I was too. You’re thinking about turning back and forgetting this whole “baby thing”. Sorry, whether you’re ready or not, baby is coming. I remember looking at my doctor at around 37 weeks with my eyes filled with tears, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
I remember looking at my doctor at around 37 weeks with my eyes filled with tears, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
He handed me a tissue, eyes full of sympathy and said, “Don’t be scared. You can do this. I’ll be there and you’ll be ok.” He was right, (not about being there, turns out I got the on-call doctor. ugh!) but I was ok. You will be too, even if you get the on-call doctor.
It’s scary. I know. I was terrified. As each day grows closer you’ll become more ready. Just like with any big event in your life you’ll get to the point where you’ll say, “let’s do this!”. You’ve taken baby class, you’ve decorated the nursery, you’ve washed the clothes and packed the hospital bag.
When the day comes you’re going to know. What does a contraction feel like? At first it feels like a really intense period cramp that lasts for thirty seconds or a minute or so and then fades away. Then maybe 15 minutes later you’ll feel that again and again and again.
You’ll be excited when it happens. Your heart will race. “It’s time, you’ll think!” Will it hurt? It won’t feel great but you won’t care in the beginning. You’ll think, “huh, that’s not THAT bad.”
You’ll be excited when it happens. Your heart will race. “It’s time, you’ll think!”
If you’re like me you’ll fly around the house cleaning one last time making sure everything is in its place. You’ll pat your pets on the head and tell them, they’ll still be number one (even though you’re not really sure where they’ll rank in a few days from now).
Start timing those contractions. Download an app to make it easy. Eat something but not too much. Sometimes once labor progresses your body wishes you wouldn’t have downed that last plate of nachos (trust me. I speak from experience.)
Once the contractions start to really hurt (you’ll know) and get closer together head to the hospital. Once you’re there they’ll take you to triage to check “your progess”. I’m no doctor but I’ve been told if you’re over 4 cm. dilated they usually keep you.
When they tell you, it happening and you’ll be having your baby you’ll probably feel a wave of shock. “It’s happening, this is it? Like right now?” Then you’ll be taken to a room. This is where you’ll actually have the baby.
You’ll change into a gown and get settled in. If you choose to have an epidural be prepared that it’s your job to say when you’re ready. You won’t be ready mentally (you’ll be scared thinking about the needle ect) but know that once you give the okay it takes time. You’ll have to wait for the anesthesiologist and there could be other moms ahead of you. It could take a half hour or so and by then your contractions may really feel intense.
Don’t try to be a rockstar. If you know you want it, request it before the pain gets worse, because it’s going to get worse. You will be ok. I am a wuss. Yup a total wuss, but I didn’t even flinch. It felt like a little bee sting and then it was over.
When they tell you, it happening and you’ll be having your baby you’ll probably feel a wave of shock. “It’s happening, this is it?”
Then I felt great! Honestly to me, the epidural provided such a sense of relief from the pain and helped me relax. It also really slowed things down. It took a while to fully dilate after the epidural. If that happens to you, don’t worry. Use this time to rest. Close your eyes and just try to sleep if you can. Don’t worry you’re not going to miss anything.
The nurse will check you from time to time. You may be surprised how slow the labor process can be. You may also be wondering, “where the hell is my doctor?” From my experience you’re really going through most of your labor with the nurses and your partner. The doctor may check in occasionally but they won’t really come in until it’s time to push. If you start feeling a weird sense of pressure ask the nurse to check you again, it may be time.
When it’s time to push rely on your partner for support. Let them help you, comfort you and cheer you on. Trust me, they are so worried about you in this moment, they want to do whatever they can to help. LET THEM.
Be a team. Focus on them, listen to them, you don’t want to do it alone.
You won’t know what you’re doing at first. Don’t worry you’re going to figure it out. Don’t give up. You’re going to be a mom, you’re tough and you can do this. It’s time to meet your baby, you can do it!
Does it hurt when you push? If you have the epidural, I’ll say still doesn’t feel great but you’re so focused and working so hard that you aren’t focused on pain. You’re focused on the baby.
Rely on your partner. Be a team. Focus on them, listen to them, you don’t want to do it alone.
If anything you’ll feel tired. Delivering a baby is a lot of work and the pushing is constant. It’s like running a race. Once the horn sounds you don’t stop until you cross the finish line. Dig deep and find your endurance.
Then it happens. You hear that precious cry. You look at your partner’s face which is filled with pride, amazement and awe. In a moment your baby is in your arms. You’ll soak in every precious feature of that tiny face. Any bit of pain you felt before that washes away because you’re so consumed. You did it. I think I thought to myself, “Oh my god, I freakin’ did it. I really did it.”
In that moment everything changes. From here on out, for the rest of your life you are a mom. The birth will become your badge of honor, courage and strength.
The birth will become your badge of honor, courage and strength.
This experience has changed you down to your core.
Life will be different now. You’ll cry while you watch the news when you hear stories about babies and kids, you’ll find yourself talking about the baby constantly, you’re Friday night will likely be spent like every other night of the week, you’ll get up super early so you can get yourself ready before the baby wakes up. You’ll crave caffeine because you’re sleep deprived and your living room will look like Toys R Us instead of Pier 1.
You’re nice work clothes will get stained up with sticky hand prints before you walk out the door and you’ll find yourself obsessing over things like, “why hasn’t she pooped today?” That’s right there will be times you’ll pray to change a poopy diaper because the paper from the hospital says she should have 3 today and it’s only been 1 and you’re freaking out.
But you know what? You’re going to love it. All of it. because you’ll look at that tiny face and it will fill you with love. You won’t be able to remember what it was like before because this is life now. Even when it’s hard you won’t want to trade it for the world because she is your world.
So don’t worry. I know you don’t know what to expect. But you’ll be fine. When you hold her for the first time, you’ll know what to do, because you’re her mom and moms always know what to do.
You will be an awesome mom.
Enjoy the ride.
-A mom just like you
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