22 hours before I gave birth to my daughter I was sitting in my doctor’s office, it was just the weekly check-up. I was 39 weeks and feeling horrible. The doctor did an in office induction. He told me to go home and rest because I would not make it through the night, the baby would be born by morning.
I went home, spent most of the day in bed and as he said went into labor close to midnight. Off to the hospital I went.
As the contractions grew closer, the doctor arrived and we got ready for the delivery. let me backtrack a bit and say I was exhausted. It had been a rough day. My body was worn even before the labor began. I had an IV and oxygen and was just trying to have a living baby and stay alive myself.
In the room were the doctor, midwife, my husband and me. People were asking me questions and I could not answer:
Lesson 1: When in pain its difficult to think‘
This has been my experience over the past few weeks as my pain has continued. I have an increasing amount of brain fog. To the point where I am making a statement and midway I completely forget what I was saying. I forget people’s names; things that were so simple and almost second nature to me have become difficult in those moments.
Back when I was in labor, it was Ok. It was accepted that I was in too much pain to process what I was being asked. Now people just call me forgetful or question my brain function.
I wonder why?
As the labor progressed, I started to whine. really whine. I had come to the point where I thought no other person understood what I was feeling and I didn’t have much energy left.
Lesson 2: When you talk about your pain……….people think you are exaggerating.
I was telling everyone how I couldn’t take the pain any longer. The responses I got while in labor were meant to encourage but came across as being ignored. I was reminded that I had done it before and that my body knew what to do and not much more to go etc.
I have the same experience now. Only thing nobody really bothers to encourage. Let me say here that I do have my small, faithful group of cheerleaders; they are exempt from the “nobody”.
Generally though, people think I am exaggerating when I speak about pain. I’ve gotten so many “it can’t be that bad” and “you’re making it seem worse than it is” comments that I actually stopped talking about it. I’ve gone silent…for the most part.
Although labor was painful, it was better because at least people believed the pain existed…….even if it was minimized in order to provide encouragement.
As I stated earlier, I had oxygen and an IV during labor and I was becoming exhausted. After the doctor checked and said I was ….cm dilated I told him that I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed help.
Lesson 3: There comes a point when we can no longer push through…we need to ask for help and keep asking until someone listens.
The doctor did two things at that point. He got me some pain meds and asked me to pull myself up into a sitting position using the bar over my head. the meds helped with the pain and sitting employed gravity to help the labor progress.
I came to the point this year where I could no longer push. See, I am accustomed to just pushing through the pain. Doing what I have to do regardless, just getting it done. I realized that all that I was accustomed to doing and using were proving ineffective. I needed another level of intervention.
Again, people understand and accept this with labor. In my case they just behave as though I am making the choice to stop doing what I am accustomed and using an illness as the excuse……….instead of just saying I don’t want to do it.
Labor is known to or known of by everyone. I guess that makes it easy to empathize and sympathize. My illnesses being unknown and misunderstood must automatically place me in the category of someone who is pretending or lying.
Shortly after the sitting and meds I was ready to push. One push and she came screaming into the world.
Final lesson: Regardless of the journey, bruises and bumps along the way….I can make it through.
By the time my daughter was born, I was spent, physically, emotionally and psychologically. I was hungry, sweaty, bumped and bruised but I made it.
I take comfort in that. I know that chronic illness is not like labor. Labor is an event. It passes and then is no more. I am not going to have these illnesses one moment and then a few hours later no longer have them.
However, there will be acute pain episodes and sometimes weeks or months where the pain flares beyond the norm that can be likened to labor.
From January to now I’ve been in labor. The contractions are almost back to back now and I know it will soon be time to push. Through all the challenges with brain fog, talking about pain and being ignored and having to ask for help I know I will make it.
I will still be ill. However, this period shall pass. I will have the scars and memories but I will be ok.
After that, whenever next my labor experience begins again…..I will remember the lessons I learned to get me from one point to another.