When I was pregnant with Lovebug towards the end of my pregnancy we discovered that it was a high-risk pregnancy. Lovebug had something called IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) which meant that she essentially stopped growing inutero for a reason that was unknown at the time.
This meant, among other things, that I had to be induced so that my pregnancy did not go full-term.
When I was induced my labor was slow to start. It was unnatural because my body was not ready so my body fought against going into labor because it simply thought it was not time for this baby to be born.
Finally, with the constantly increasing doses of medication my body was forced to get on board with the idea of having a baby before it wanted to. Contracts started and became frequent.
They were painful. (Big shock, right? That labor contractions would be painful?)
It was so painful and I couldn’t move. I also couldn’t really walk to ease the pain because I was attached to a monitor and had to be monitored to make sure Lovebug was okay.
Before the process even started I decided that I didn’t want pain killers unless I absolutely had to have them. It was already traumatic enough that the labor had to be induced and I didn’t want to add anymore drugs to the mix when I was already so worried about Lovebug’s health and didn’t want to risk doing anything that may potentially harm her.
The pain kept going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny but not nearly as funny.
Sometimes it was so intense that I forgot to breathe and other times I managed to ride the pain like a wave. I tried to surf the pain as long as I could but eventually I threw in the towel and begged for drugs. I was only dilated to 4 cm and suspected it would be hours until I reached 10. I knew I could not be in that type of pain for that long.
“I just don’t want it to hurt anymore,” I cried.
So the anesthesiologist came and they gave me an epidural, which basically means they poked a hole in my spine so the pain meds would go straight there.
And then they laid me down.
Instead of feeling relief the pain got worse. At that point, Daddy had left the room for a bit and I laid on the table while the nurse with Australian accent assured me that the pain would be gone soon.
But it didn’t go away. With every breath I took it got worse. The contractions were coming closer and harder and the pain covered my entire body like thick sweat.
I sobbed hysterically, “please make it stop.”
The nurse tried to reassure me that “soon” the pain would stop, but I didn’t see how that could be true. The ceiling looked blurry and all I saw was pain. I could no longer ride the waves and now the ocean of pain was trying to drown me.
And then I felt the urge to push.
“I need to push,” I screamed out to the nurse.
“That can’t be,” she replied. “Do you want me to check you,” she said with an unenthusiastic tone. She was clearly just trying to distract the overly dramatic impatient me.
I nodded yes as best I could. The pain making it hard to move or think.
She snapped a rubber glove on her hand, inserted it into you know where and then looked my weeping face with an expression of surprise.
“Well, if you want the pain to stop you’re going to have to have a baby,” she said rather flippant. “I’m turning off the medication and calling the doctor. You’re at 10,” she continued.
The medication had not had time to work and now I couldn’t have it at all. I was in pain and now a small stage of panic.
The pain consumed me as the urge to push became stronger and stronger. Finally the doctor and Daddy returned to the room and then I pushed.
With every bit of my strength I pushed. I knew that if I just got to the other side (and had the baby) that the pain would stop. I remind myself of that as I panted and cried while the weight of the pain beat on me physically and emotionally.
I started to use the pain as a cue and to work with it. With every painful contraction I bared down and pushed. Pain was transforming from something that was physically uncomfortable into a tool that I could use to making getting past the pain easier. With each painful contraction I pushed and suddenly my tiny angel in my arms looking up at me.
And just like that the pain stopped.
There are a lot of moments in life that will be painful. You will have a huge fight with someone you love. Your heart will be broken. You will do something that goes against who you believe yourself to be. You may loose a job or suffer financial or legal troubles, or maybe you’ll get sick.
There are times when a situation may hurt so much and it seems like it would be easier to ignore the pain. Or to quiet it with food, sex, drugs, shopping, or whatever your personal numbing mediation is.
To do anything, but look pain in the eyes.
Sometimes we feel like if we bury the pain deep inside our hearts it will go away. If it only it were so. Buried pain is just a seed that will eventually blossom into a flower with thick and thorny vines that have the potential to wrap around a heart suffocating it.
Pain deferred is worse than a dream deferred. It doesn’t just sag like a heavy load; it always explodes in one way or another.
(And if you didn’t go to public school and didn’t celebrate Black History month and can’t catch the reference it’s to Langston Hughes’ A Dream Deferred poem.)
And yet only way to truly get past the pain is to go through it. To hold on to it until your knuckles get white and you just want to scream out for your mommy to come and chase it away, like the monster under your bed.
Sometimes you gotta let pain jump you in like you’re taking an ass-whopping trying to be down with the gang of life. Feeling every blow because life isn’t always sweet, and none of us are ever promised a rose garden.
Sometimes we have to feel the pain with every single fiber of our being. We have to breath in its thick scent. We have to hold it on our lap while it threatens to crush our knees, or walk over it like hot burning coals.
We have to clinch our eyes closed as tears well up because, man, sometimes life is so fucking painful.
But as intense as the pain may be in that moment as soon as it’s over it’s over. The faster you move through it, the sooner you make it to the other side.
And often times what we find on the other side is a gift.
In the case of my story with Lovebug, I didn’t just get the gift of a beautiful baby after the pain but I was also left with a new realization about myself: that I was stronger and more powerful than I believed.
I thought I could not have a baby via an induced labor without pain medication. For a split second, I thought the pain could literally kill me. But it didn’t and I survived and when I look back I’m not sure it was even really that bad. Okay, I lie, it was that bad but I survived and once it was over it was just that – over.
This is something that will stay with me and then next time I don’t believe in myself or think something is too hard, I’m reminded of all the things I’ve thought I couldn’t do or wouldn’t survive and did.
Have you learned a lesson from pain?