As I sit here and write my labor story, I can’t help but glance up at my two-day old daughter who entered this world fast and furiously and feel overwhelming love for her. The kind of love that makes me shed tears of joy as I write this, and trust me – I am not usually a suck for this kind of thing. I am still in absolute awe and disbelief when I think about bringing a child into this world and what that really feels like. I’ve heard from many women that their memory of childbirth fades quickly – “labor amnesia” it is apparently called. So I wanted to put my experience into words, to remind myself and share with others just how incredible it is in every which way – incredibly painful and scary, but also incredibly joyful and fascinating.
On May 14th, 2021, I was eight and a half months pregnant and doing a whole lot of yard work. Preparing to have a baby during a pandemic is no easy feat, and with over a year of lockdowns and restrictions with no end in sight, we were hauling ass trying to get our outdoor space as nice as possible before the baby came. This included the arguably more intensive task of laying sod. My stubborn self took on this task and ignored my wife’s request to take it easy. Keep in mind that I had been strength training 5-6 days a week right up until I went into labor, and I justified the muscle memory coming back easily from doing a few years of landscaping work. I felt perfectly fine despite ending up with a 22,000 step count of “farm strong” exercise by the end of the day. In retrospect, I am almost certain this played a role in inducing my own labor.
At 12:30am the next morning and 11 days before my due date, I woke up with strange abdomen pain and my wife Catrina asking me if I was okay. This wasn’t the first time I had moaned and groaned in my sleep. Discomfort while trying to get some shut eye becomes much more prominent in the final weeks. But this time was different, so I got up to pee and sat down in the living room for a few minutes to see if the discomfort would pass…it did not. I quickly downloaded an app on my phone to track contractions, and for the next 15 minutes I rocked myself nervously in our glider chair as the pain escalated and the app told me it was time to go to the hospital.
I woke Catrina up and said “I’m having contractions”. She got up to finish packing our hospital bags which we had failed to complete thinking we had a bit more time. I proceeded to say, “who is going to water the sod three times a day?!” because apparently I was more worried about our lawn than giving birth. The next hour of my life was hell, as the intense pain of the contractions had literally gone full tilt in a matter of minutes and were only 3-5 minutes apart. Because of how quickly things escalated, I was still in full blown denial that the baby was on the way. Every time I’d get through another horrific wave of pain in my abdomen, I’d be hopeful that it would eventually subside. Again, it did not.