Having a baby is a life-changing experience. It was simultaneously the hardest and greatest thing I’ve ever done. Before I gave birth to my son, I had pictured the experience so many times. I read books, talked with friends, watched documentaries. I thought I knew exactly what to expect.
Of course, you never really know what something is like until you experience it firsthand. And my birth experience wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned. In fact, it was almost comically different in practically every aspect.
Here are some of the ways my labor differed from my picture-perfect expectations:
Expectation: I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with contractions. I’ll smile serenely and lovingly wake up my husband by whispering, “Honey, I think this is it!”
Reality: Water breaks while driving down the highway. Call my husband screaming, “OH MY GOD, I THINK THIS IS IT. WHAT DO I DO?!?”
Expectation: My water probably won’t break, but if it does, it’ll only be a trickle.
Reality: So much liquid. SO MUCH LIQUID.
Expectation: I will labor for as long as possible at home.
Reality: Water breaks, panic immediately, head straight to hospital.
Expectation: I will follow my (overly detailed and meticulously written) birth plan from start to finish. I’ll have extra copies available for any additional nurses and doctors.
Reality: Birth plan? What birth plan?! Just get this baby out of me!
Expectation: I will walk around the hospital to speed up my labor.
Reality: Walk four steps. Turn around. Get back in bed.
Expectation: My contractions will come and go in distinct waves.
Reality: A whirlwind of pain with no clear-cut start or finish.
Expectation: I am too scared of needles to get an epidural. Plus, I’d like to see what it’d be like to give birth naturally.
Reality: Bring on the epidural!
Expectation: My husband will lovingly guide me through the pain management techniques we practiced in birthing class.
Reality: DEAR GOD, STOP TALKING.
Expectation: My doctor will be the real-life incarnation of the doctor from This Is Us.
Reality: My doctor is an anti-social drill sergeant.
Expectation: Dilating will be the hard part, pushing will be a breeze.
Reality: Pushing is the worst. Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the pushing?!
Expectation: I will look like a pregnancy goddess.
Expectation: My life will change as soon as I have a child.
Reality: My life is so much better now that I have a child.
Jillian is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.
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