My gut had been telling me my daughter would arrive earlier than her due date and per usual, it turned out to be correct. Baby Sofia arrived almost a week early on the morning of 11/23 when I had originally planned on taking maternity leave. My water broke at 440am at which time I texted my doula, Trang Onderdonk, immediately to see if she thought I should go to the hospital already because our plan was to labor at home as much as possible and then just swing by the hospital to pop the baby out. Since I wasn’t feeling any major contractions yet (just very mild cramping) and the fluid leaking out of me was clear (versus brown, which would be indicative of toxic baby poop), she advised me to notify my doctor, take a shower and eat something in preparation for a marathon before heading to the hospital.
My partner and I arrived at Jersey City Medical Center by 630am. As I waited for the intake person to process my information, I kept an eye on the clock and noticed my mild contractions were a few minutes apart lasting about 15 seconds. I remember Trang telling me during our meetings that I wasn’t in active labor until contractions were four minutes apart lasting one whole minute and I could hardly speak, so I knew I had some time to kill. From what I’ve read and heard, we can expect to have similar labor stories to our mothers, which is what I was striving for. Both of my mother’s deliveries of my brother and myself were similar: she popped each of us out in just a few hours vaginally and unmedicated. She always told me the contractions felt like really bad period cramps and the pushing felt like relief followed by sweet euphoria. However, given that I struggled with debilitating period cramps throughout my adolescence so severe I would regularly pass out, whereas my mother never experienced menstrual pain, I was unsure of how comparable our pain threshold was.
Luckily, my labor seemed to mirror my mothers. My contractions continued to slowly get stronger and once Trang arrived at the hospital, she encouraged me to get out of the hospital bed and labor while walking around, doing squats and swaying with my partner, which felt much more tolerable and much more natural than laying on my back. Once we were moved to the delivery room, contractions gradually got so bad I wanted to vomit and shit all at once, but at least I didn’t feel like passing out! And although I was on my knees bent over the bed crushing my baby daddy’s hands, Trang encouraged me to push through the contractions as if I were taking a shit. She said if I still felt like taking a shit once the contraction passed, it was time to call Dr. Muhammad in to begin pushing the baby out.
After almost shitting my disposable hospital underwear a few times, it was time to call the doctor once I felt both the continual urge to take a dump coupled with a fire crotch sensation, which meant the baby was descending. The thought of turning over onto my back was unbearable, but my mother was right about the pushing phase. As each contraction started coming on, Dr. Muhammad coached me to push as hard as I could while holding my breath for ten seconds and then quickly take a deep breath before going into the next push. The contractions seemed to dissipate as quickly as they came and my energy concentrated on funneling the baby out. After fifteen minutes of pushing out everything I had (hemorrhoids, amniotic fluid, blood, piss, and shit), I could feel Dr. Muhammad finally reach in and pull the baby out at 1057am!
No one really prepared me for how long it would take my ass to heal after delivering a baby. I’m two weeks postpartum and everything is only starting to feel somewhat okay downstairs. I suffered a first degree tear, so I received a few stitches. I have not taken a mirror to the area, but I can tell there’s still a little extra swelling around my anus that may be from the stitches, but I’m pretty sure it’s a voluptuous hemorrhoid. Hemorrhoids are very common and I always tell clients that they are only inflamed varicose veins that have the capacity to shrink as fast as they swell. Little did I know that postpartum care includes the best hemorrhoid care!
Apparently, the perineum care market is missing out on a entire target demographic of hemorrhoid sufferers. One of my clients recommended I put the Frida Mom Labor + Delivery Postpartum Recovery Kit on my registry and I am so glad I did. Although the hospital provided me with all of the postpartum essentials and then some (squirt bottle to cleanse the perineum, unlimited disposable underwear, maxi pads, Tucks witch hazel hemorrhoid pads and instant cold packs for my crotch), the Frida Mom kit takes hemorrhoid care to the next level with an upside down peri bottle (doubles as a portable bidet!), instant ice maxi pads, witch hazel perineal cooling pad liners, and witch hazel perineal healing foam. I can’t recommend this kit enough for general hemorrhoid care. In fact, I’m so obsessed with the Frida brand that I also purchased their Perineal Comfort Cushion (aka a hemorrhoid pillow). Additionally, I purchased a Sitz bath and Sitz soak, which I also highly recommend to quickly shrink those hemorrhoids! For extra TLC, keep the upside down peri bottle filled halfway with the Sitz soak (follow directions on the container) and fill the rest with warm water each time you use the bathroom.
I hope my birthing story has shed some light on top notch maternity and postpartum hemorrhoid care. I cannot stop singing the praises of my birthing team and how well they’ve literally taken care of my ass: Trang Onderdonk (doula), Dr. Muhammad and Dr. Yousry and the labor and delivery nurses at Jersey City Medical Center.