How We Do It: A Labor & Delivery Nurse’s Story
Cassie's Tale: How A Labor & Delivery Nurse is Moving Past The Trauma of Birth
As a labor and delivery nurse, I knew what to expect when I was expecting —until I was expecting.
I found out the hard way that even “easy” deliveries can be traumatic. It was my first, and no one can explain the pain, feelings, and fear, to someone who hasn’t experienced it for themselves.
Still, I believed I was ahead of the game because at least I knew what to expect in the hospital. As for the pain, I had seen my patient’s faces and knew it would be tough, even with the epidurals.
Throughout my career, I always wanted to believe in the moms who laughed off the pain of labor, when it came time to deliver baby #2. They'd tell me you forget all about the pain of birth soon after your first is born.
The lie is a necessary evil, because if we knew what was waiting for us, the birth rate would plummet and countries collapse. (Not to mention our partners would never get to have sex again. Ever.)
I can’t complain too much about my labor. It was tough, but it wasn’t the toughest. (Read my birth story.) I went for 8 hours without an epidural, and once I got my epidural, it was great—a breeze is what a doctor would say.
Then the epidural began to wear off, the laboring went on a little too long, and my daughter was born after a quick episiotomy.
Let the pain begin.
Everyone forgets to tell you how much it effing hurts. For days, weeks, even months after delivery.
The pain of every.single.stitch while they “cleaned” me up.
The pain of someone’s hand inside me.
The pain of remembering the pain.
Giving birth hurt in ways and places I never knew existed, even as a labor & delivery nurse.
But it’s not just the physical pain— it's emotional, too.
Here's 5 different pains I never expected to experience after giving birth.
Shirts, showers, and shifts hurt. Boobs take on a whole new meaning after childbirth. The leaking—I was a milk faucet. Water falling on me in the shower hurt. If I moved the wrong way, I hurt.
Breastfeeding causes cramps. (Who knew?!) Okay, maybe I didn’t pay enough attention, but no one ever told me that my stomach would cramp while breastfeeding. As if going through labor and having a period for 6 weeks isn’t enough, let’s just throw in the cramps for good measure! Thankfully this was the shortest pain, as it only lasted about 2 weeks.
Crotch pain that never went away. You’ll never look at your nether regions the same way again—when you’re finally brave enough to check things out down there. You won’t walk the same way again, and you’ll definitely never do yoga the same way again. Sitting hurt, standing hurt, walking hurt. For weeks. Peeing hurt, pooping hurt. Oh, did I mention it hurt?
Visitors hurt. Everyone promises they'll help once you have the baby. Sounds great until the baby arrives, and the visitors show up just to see the baby. I was in full-on hostess mode the first two weeks of my child's life. Not what I expected.
Being ignored hurt. When my husband returned to work after a 2-week leave, crickets and crying was all I heard. No one came to visit. (Some of our first visitors haven’t been back since!) Everyone wants to get their hands on a new baby, and I get that...but hey, I exist too! A couple months in, a drop-in with an offer to watch the baby while I showered or ran an errand would have been met with tears of joy. Someone with a cup of tea and some time to chat would have been the highlight of my day.
Giving birth was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, in all the ways I never expected. My mom was with me in the delivery room, and she worried I’d never want another baby. A year later, I still remember every bit of pain.
I am still waiting to forget.
Even though I can remember all the pain, I’m working towards getting ready for Round Two.
At least this time, I'll know what to do. (I bet you will, too.)
What was your delivery experience?