I pooped my two babies earthside.
No, I don’t actually mean to talk about pooping just as they were being born. But oh, I did do that too – and I know it to be a fact, thanks to the transparency of my requested medical records.
What I actually mean to write to you about is the poops the day before each of my girls were born.
I had the shits. Self-induced, castor oil shits. The kind of shits that get your anus so fired up that you end up sitting on a toilet for the better part of an afternoon, toilet paper rolls vanishing at a solid pace alongside your dignity.
There is nothing rational about taking a laxative when you don’t need to, but when you are remarkably pregnant you don’t give a flying fuck and will try anything.
Well I did, anyhow. Twice.
With my back up against the wall each pregnancy, facing induction the very next day, I, Whitney Cruikshank, waddled my way to the pharmacy ten days after Wren was due, and 11 days after Millie’s guess date. And what followed each time, as the label promised, was a slippery, wet and wild ride.
The days spent after babe’s arbitrary guess date is a time in one’s life only the brave souls who have been there before can totally understand- it’s something like the Bermuda triangle- those who endure it never escape the same again, but I will attempt to enlighten you in the case you’re ever up against the storm.
Let’s be clear. I was not actually overdue. I was still within the range of what is a normal and healthy length of time to be pregnant, which is 37 to 42 weeks gestation, according to the recent research done by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Unfortunately, I was coming too close to that end date for my care providers’ comfort.
I will say I wasn’t a nutbar immediately, to give myself some credit. I was brave and courageous and beautiful for like, eight days after their expected arrivals, and I felt pretty good. For those days I was all like, “Oh, I’m just such a cozy little nest,” or “I’m so honoured to get to spend a bit more quality time resting at home.”
But this go around, by week six of one-on-one time with my toddler since my exit from work, the nest was bulging with scaly and itchy violet-hued stretchmarks and she was no longer benefitting from watching Grey’s Anatomy for four hours a day. So that’s when I started the less shit-inducing and legit natural methods for induction.
Before I gave myself the shits, I had drank the teas. I’d done acupuncture twice, had the chiropractor check me three times over and did yoga for the whole last trimester, including days four and 11 post-guess date which scared the bejesus right out of the yoga instructor.
Every night I did accupressure on myself, and I rubbed my nips in my personal spa retreat, also known as the shower. We attempted to be intimate, too, though it genuinely seemed anatomically impossible. My midwife knew my ladybits real well too by this time, as I believe in the end we did more than a handful of sexy membrane sweeps.
I started to feel like I was trapped in purgatory for a crime I didn’t commit, as phone calls and texts from confused relatives and friends hit up my phone like wildfire. No, I didn’t forget to tell you I had a baby, forchristsakes.
This time in one’s life is such a weird combination of experimentation just to pass the days, and trying to play God at the same time. It feels like trying to will an aluminum can open with a cotton swab. A girl starts, at some point, to feel cornered and desperate. So against any advice I would ever give someone in my rational mind, my day nine “overdue” happened.
On day nine my tongue was so raw from eating two entire pineapples for lunch that it bled. I then dragged my broke ass into a fancy Thai restaurant at 4pm, with my bloody mouth and wearing a sweat stained white tank top and gym shorts, and ordered their cheapest appetizer for my kid, while I spoonfed myself from a large bowl of their hottest hot sauce (and literally seven pitchers of water).
Though I had gotten to know the ultrasound technicians by name at this point for having had so many scans this go around, and knew my babe was still healthy in there and my placenta still viable, I grew impatient. But I was not quite impatient enough to have somebody else intervene on my behalf, stubborn and determined as I am.
Each time I’d grown the baby by myself, and was going to birth it myself, damnit.
So that’s why the day before each of my kids were born, I got real intimate with my toilet. I read some baby name books, made a grocery list and snuggled up for a long afternoon of colon cleansing.
And I walked. I walked so damn much. And I’d have walked more in that last pregnant day in May were it not for me knowing I’d be a grown-ass woman walking down the road with a bloody mouth and bubbly shits squirting down my legs.
Pregnancy is raw and intimate. And seriously humbling.
This week I’m finally tossing my old friend, the castor oil, and I’m pretty sure my butthole clenched up just being in its presense. I may have sleepless nights now, and my kid might piss on me a lot, but it’s nothing like what it was to be living in that irrational time when I wanted to experience labour so bad I was willing to crap myself for it.
In reflection on both births, I will never know if anything I did, castor oil included, had any effect on my babes’ impending birthdays, except that it existed in each of their journeys.
Realistically, I am just a body that requires a bit more time than some, because I gave birth to two healthy babies, and this second time, to an average sized one at that.
What I can safely say about having lived through two long pregnancies is that it’s an intimate time of both empowerment and self-doubt, of satisfaction and suffering, of learning to trust one’s self and of rolling with the punches. If I could only see then that that’s exactly what I needed to prime myself for my next stage of motherhood, maybe I wouldn’t have been so perplexed and maddened by it.
But try telling that to a day nine-er. I dare you.
Hindsight is a cruel, wise old bitch.