Pfft. Please, I’m a mommy. I’m scared everyday. If not “scared” then definitely concerned. There are about a zillion ways for my little monkey to hurt herself and I’m constantly thinking of all of them. I’m a worrier by nature so the possibilities for disaster play in my head continuously. But the last time I was seriously scared, like, I’m-going-to-die-I’m-sure-of-it scared was while giving birth to my daughter. It’s a good thing she’s such a perfect little creature because she’s cause for a lot stress in this mama!
I thought I’d share the experience with you so you’d have an idea of what it’s like to give birth in Italy and why I’ll never do it again. Below is an email I sent to a good friend of mine when she asked about how it all went down…
“My birth experience was horrific, plain and simple. Not so much because of lack of care but just because it was SO damn painful. Italians aren’t big on pain relief during childbirth, especially if you’re giving birth in a public hospital. I could’ve paid big bucks to have an epidural but I thought, hell, if all the other Italian women are going au natural so will I. BIG MISTAKE. My contractions started around 6pm. Just minor ones, laughable ones, ones that gave me no indication that there was a world of pain and fear to come. They started by coming every 15 min, then got closer and closer together. By the time they were about 5-6 minutes apart we headed for the hospital. I remember thinking on the way there how I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Sure it was uncomfortable but I was working through it just fine. It was about 8pm when we arrived and they started monitoring the contractions to see if I was actually in labor… I was. This was about the time when major distress starting setting in. My body was certain that all systems were go and that little Eva was ready to get the hell out of there. I could feel the natural impulses working inside me. My body hadn’t belonged to me for 40 weeks prior but never before had I felt it work against my every conscious demand like I was insignificant at this particular event. Baby came first, for my body, the doctors, the nurses-I, myself, was an afterthought. Of course this is just as it should be but it left me scared out of my mind. Being surrounded by foreign language didn’t help as I didn’t have the brainpower to translate anything. They carted me off to a room for a check up where an evil woman stuck their whole damn arm up inside me (or at least that’s what it felt like). Thank God everything was ok because who knows what other form of torture she would’ve performed to fix a problem. The contractions started coming on pretty heavy at this point. It was about 10:30-11pm. I was put in a labor room and there was myself, Davide and 2 young nurses. The contractions were incomprehensible, yes that’s right, I honestly couldn’t wrap my head around the level of pain I was going through. I would very nearly lose my mind with each one that came. I really didn’t think a person could go through that much suffering and not pass out….or just DIE. I felt them in my back and only in my back. Something about the baby pressing on my spine, they call it ‘back labor’. I felt nothing in the pelvis or stomach area. The nurses were sweet, rubbing my back with every contraction but with zero relief, I still appreciated the effort. I tried laboring on all fours, on a birthing ball, in the shower sitting down, on my side, standing up, nothing seemed to ease the pain. It was crippling. Nothing could’ve prepared me for it. The obstetrician came in every 45min or so to check to see how far I was dilated. I took my prenatal classes with the same woman and thought it would bring me comfort during my labor…it didn’t. She just kept yelling me “Erin, stop SCREAMING!”. Right. I truly believed I was going to die, there was no doubt in my mind. I begged those stinkin’ nurses for ANY kind of medicine, even a TYLONOL! Nothing. Sadists. It was truly a blessing when they told me I could finally push. I don’t know why but the pushing was a piece of cake compared to the contractions. Just to be able to bare down during those painful spells helped sooo much. I only pushed about 5 times and she was born! The first thing I said was “I did it!” I couldn’t believe that I really went through delivering this little creature! I held my little bundle for a minute or so, overjoyed, exhausted and half out of my mind. They whisked her off for testing and commenced sewing me up. The bastards cut me wide open. 24 stitches. Is there even enough room on the human figure down there for 24 freakin’ stitches?? Jesus. But whatever, I couldn’t care less. They couldn’t stuck white-hot pokers up my butt and it would’ve been a relief compared to those contractions. I was just happy it was over and my baby was perfectly healthy and normal. I stayed 3 days in the hospital sharing a room with 2 other woman and had no privacy whatsoever but it was free. After complaining about the soreness of my ENORMOUS episiotomy incision they broke down and gave me the equivalent of an Advil…in suppository form *sigh* On the second day a GROUP of doctors came in and, in front of everyone, pulled my sheet down and spread my legs for me and examined. They talked amongst themselves for a moment and then with no warning at all one of them jams her fingers inside me, feels around for a sec and exclaims that everything is tip-top. Meanwhile I’m gasping for air as this little maneuver as sent me into a fit of pain, astonishment, and embarrassment. All the while they didn’t say a word to me, not one word to let me know what they were about to do. I felt like some kind of animal or something. There is NO beside manner in Italy, none. I’ll never do it again. Ever.”
So that’s my birth story. The most terrified I’ve ever been.