Family and Parenting Category
On Hee-Hee-Hoooos and Sleep Deprivation or a Rant of a
"Just don't forget to
breathe," my midwife joked during one of my routine
prenatal care visits. At that time, I was signing myself
and my husband up for various childbirth preparation
classes left and right, trying to absorb as much
information as I could before the all-important ARRIVAL.
"These classes aren't very useful, if you want my
opinion," she said, omnipotent and all-knowing.
But what about the breathing exercises? I said.
"Breathing exercises? Nonsense. Like I said, don't
forget to breathe. Period." I nodded in sheepish
agreement, knowing darn well that I was going to take
those classes regardless.
So, what were some of the lessons learned during my
first pregnancy and all the advice I received along the
way, solicited or unsolicited?
Number One. "Don't yell when you're in labor," my mother
said to me many times. "You need to be considerate of
your doctors and nurses."
I took that advice seriously. I was not going to be a
loud inconvenience to the medical staff. Since I had
years, well, over one year, actually, of Shaolin kungfu
training, I decided that during my most intense labor
moments I would go deep within myself and find that
necessary, meditative focus for warding off the pain.
Through sheer will power and determination. Wrong. Oh,
so wrong. The pain was so impossibly acute, and I was
screaming at such an unpleasant decibel level that my
throat hurt for two weeks after my daughter's birth.
Okay, if you are a first-time, scared-to-death mommy,
please scratch that last sentence from your memory. Your
experience shall be different and much more enjoyable
than mine was.
Number Two. "If your contractions are five minutes
apart, call your doctor." But what if they are two
minutes apart from the get-go? Naturally, I called my
You're a first-time mom. Wait at least twenty four
hours, then leave for the hospital. And, if you're not
comfortable with this, wait minimum of one hour and then
Wrong answer. Oh, so very wrong. I waited for an hour,
vehement in my obedience. Then, on the sixty first
minute, my water broke and I started pushing in my
Number Three. "Bring an object to help you focus and a
favorite music CD to help you stay calm and relaxed."
Not if you're ready to "pop" any second. They are lucky
I took a shower. And shaved. And put a lipstick on. I
wanted to feel clean and beautiful in my suffering.
Number Four. Hee-hee-hooos. My midwife was right about
My husband was driving our car to the hospital on the
Interstate 95 highway, averaging about hundred miles per
hour. My seat was fully reclined, but I could not lie or
sit in it - the pain was too intense as I already was
feeling my baby's head between my thighs. As my labor
coach, partner, or whatever the title was assigned to my
husband during one of those childbirth classes, he was
encouraging me to hee-hee-hoooo between my
blood-curdling roars, his eyes wide with fear. The
breathing exercise did not help me with the pain, and I
did experience the proverbial fury toward my husband
during those moments. Poor sap, I employed the most
disgusting words in my vocabulary to insult him.
Number Five. "Ask your partner to give you a pedicure
before your due date. It will make you feel better
during childbirth." And it did, much to my surprise. My
ruby red toenails, which, by the way, weren't that far
away from my face, helped me focus during my very short
labor. They also provided me with a strange sense of
consolation and familiarity in the frighteningly cold,
Number Six. "Don't push. Wait for your midwife," the
nurse from the Labor and Delivery Unit said upon our
scream-filled hospital arrival. What? Don't push? I have
a baby's head between my thighs!
Number Seven. "Would you like an epidural?" the same
nurse, with an intellect obviously far more superior to
mine, inquired. What? Are you joking? Are you a nurse or
a robot? Does the situation at hand not fit within your
normal operational parameters? The input does not
compute? I have a baby's head between my thighs! Don't
you think I could be over and done with my labor by the
time the anesthesiologist arrives?
Number Eight. "Have you ever been abused?" the same
lovely nurse asked me. Yes, lady, let's fill out your
standard hospital questionnaire. Now is the perfect
time. "Have you?" I said, spewing sulfuric acid.
Number Nine. "Get your sleep now, while you can."
They weren't kidding. Extreme sleep deprivation. Nothing
in the world could have possibly prepared me for this
kind of torture. I don't recall reading about this in
any of my pregnancy books. Talk about a total shock to
your system. Remember, when you were slightly younger
and had to pull a few all-nighters in college or at
work, or simply because you could? Yet you still knew
that you could crash later and sleep for two days
straight if you wanted to. Well, NOT anymore! When the
little ogre is hungry, she is hungry. You have to get
up. You can't just leave food for her for a week as if
she were a cat. You ARE the food.
After a couple of sleepless weeks at home with my brand
new alien of a daughter, the delusion had set in firmly
and seemingly permanently. I vaguely recall my husband
sitting in the nursery, zombie-like, rocking my daughter
in his arms. Her pacifier fell out of her mouth, making
her squawk unhappily. I ran to the kitchen to get
another pacifier, previously sterilized, because rinsing
the fallen pacifier off under the unfiltered,
germ-infested faucet water seemed so unfeasible and
ungodly. As I returned to the nursery, my tiredness
reached the point of no return, and my loved ones
morphed into one big, torturous, and sleep-steeling
"What are you doing? What are you doing?" my husband's
voice brought me back from the fog I was in. Why is he
resisting? Why is he turning his head?
"Stop it." I said angrily, while forcefully stuffing the
pacifier into my husband's mouth, unable at that point
to tell him apart from my daughter. Sleep deprivation.
There have been studies done on that, you know, on what
it does to your body.
My unsolicited advice to you, beautiful, expecting,
first-time mommies, is to get as much sleep as you can
now. Store your energy like a camel stores its food. Of
course, if you are in your third trimester, getting
plenty of rest is much easier said than done, especially
if you are pregnant with multiples. My husband could not
understand why I was so restless during my third
trimester. I told him to put a watermelon under his back
in order to understand why.
In all seriousness, take all the advice for what it's
worth, with a grain of salt. Believe in your maternal
instincts and intuition, and don't let anyone tell you
what and how you are supposed to be feeling when you are
feeling quite the opposite. It is you health and the
health of your child/children. Oh, and do get as much
sleep as you can while you can. Because when the package
arrives, never with an operational manual or user's
guide, mind you, sleep will become a hobby for which you
wont have the time for anymore. You could, of course,
end up getting one of THOSE that starts sleeping through
the night right away. Congratulations to you. But if you
are not so lucky, don't fret, my friends. There is a
light at the end of the tunnel, I was told. And what a
bright and rewarding light this might be. Unless you are
a realist who believes the light is an oncoming train.
Julia Andrusenko discovered her love for creative
writing about two years ago and has made writing her
daily ritual since then. She is currently working on her
first short story collection. When not writing, Julia, a
resident of Maryland, balances her life between working
as an electrical engineer and tending to her family.
Email: majuls57 (at) gmail.com
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