Wednesday, September 19, 2012

5 Things I Learned from my 55 Hour Labor

Here they are. Plotting their life in fashionable shoes... without me.
Last year, Kate and I went to Chicago to do a project with Totina's Peeper Snatchers Totino's Pizza Stuffers and Second City Communications. By "do a project", I mean that we watched awkwardly while they did the project. But it was still awesome and we were amazed by how talented and cool all of the people were. 

Including the woman who wrote today's post. She is both a hooker and motherpucker by proxy, because in addition to being an incredible performer, a mom of an adorable 5 year old, and a smoking hot fox, she is also the kind of person who organizes a drive for school supplies for homeless kids. I know this because she lets me stalk her on Facebook.

This is Christy Bonstell. And here's her post:


5 Things I Learned from my 55 Hour Labor
Alternate Title: How giving birth made sure I will never, ever be scared of anything ever again.

My son, Patrick the Giant, is approaching his fifth birthday. I still, to this day, have not written his birth story in his baby book. Because it is not a birth story. It is a HORROR story that no child should ever read ever, unless we no longer want to propagate the earth.

You see, I was in labor for 55 hours. Yes, you read that right...55 hours. My son, who was estimated to be a polite 7 pounds, turned out to be a 10-pounder with a head the size of a bowling ball. We now share hats.

Since the tale in question essentially gave me PTSD, I’ve done my damndest to try and forget the whole damn thing. However, as time moves on, I realise now it taught me some things. Here are those things:

1. I would make a terrible secret agent. By hour 53 I was shouting out any secret I may have known about anything ever, to get the perceived “torture” to end. Of course those secrets were things from fifth grade, but still. I’ve watched enough “24” to know I did poorly.

2. I will never, ever be afraid of a spider again. Please know that late in labor I saw death as a viable and desirable option. In fact, I begged for it. LOUDLY. I realise now that there must have been some nice young couple arriving for their scheduled birth at the same time I was filling the whole preggo ward with the sounds of “Do whatever you have to do to get this baby out of my body alive and just kill me.”

3. I don’t handle drugs very well. Near the end I was given “something to take the edge off.” Whatever that was (I have no clue) did not do as promised. It did, however, send me on a very nice trip where I was running down a hallway full of crayons. That’s the best my subconscious could come up with in my time of need? Crayons? Running? Where was Ryan Gosling serving me single-malt whiskey? Brain. FAIL.

4. I will never feel bad about my body again. Why? Because I’ve seen what it looks like post-birth and post three-days-on-a-saline drip. It ain’t pretty. You ever see that movie where Eddie Murphy wears a fat suit? Yeah...I looked like that. Not Eddie Murphy--though I would have rather looked like Eddie Murphy than what I did in my own, water-induced fat suit.

5. I will always make jokes. And I will always sleep. In hour 55, when they finally decided a c-section was in order, I fell asleep on the table. They kept waking me up to make sure I was awake for the BIRTH OF MY SON, but sleeping was kind of won at that point. The one time they did get me to wake up I asked “Am I a size 4 again?” They laughed. I went back to sleep.

So, it’s funny now, I guess. And in the end, everything turned out great. Since Patrick turned out to be 11 pounds by the end of his first week, he slept through the night almost immediately and I got plenty of rest. And my little giant, who is in a mixed Kindergarten-First grade and is the biggest kid in his class, has given me almost no trouble at all since those fateful three days.

I guess, this is the birth story I should write in his baby book.

Maybe I’ll just make one up instead.
Christy L. Bonstell is a Chicago-based comedian and writer. Her website is

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012


  1. Oh bless you! I was in prodromal labor for weeks, followed by 30 hours of "real" labor, unmedicated. Followed by a c-section to extract my nearly 10lb. barrel of joy (with an equally oversized head). Followed by PTSD over the whole damn thing.

    I feel like we both need a few shots of tequila, even if it is 9:00 a.m. and I am 26 weeks pregnant. I think we have earned it.

  2. I feel like you're writing MY story, lol. I was in labor for 2.5 days and pushed for 2.5 hours. I don't even know HOW at that point. My son's name is even Patrick, and I generally think back on his birth with an anxiety attack. GAHHH!

    Thanks for writing this. I'm sorry you had this experience too, but with all the glittery birth stories out there, it's nice to hear it wasn't just me or my failure in some way (logically I really know that, but the feeling creeps in sometimes).

    Technically there were no "complications" aside from my son's poor misshapen head and the fact that I could barely walk until I spent months in physical therapy and can never sleep on my right side, put pressure or be remotely TOUCHED on my right hip after the nurse forced my knee into my face for 2.5 hours of pushing despite my telling her to STOP over and over. And the endless amount of time (maybe 30 min? or longer) they left me in the bed in birthing position after delivery before they would extend the part of the bed that had been folded down during delivery, the place where your legs would stretch and rest after 2.5 hours of pushing... Not at all bitter about that...

    My second child (surprise and PANIC! because after that I would have been happy to have an only child) was still a long labor, way more painful contractions, but I only had to push for 5 minutes, so anyone who's had that first traumatic birth, the second might just come out like a shot!

  3. Oh my. That is so funny. But the spider thing I do not agree with. I just recently killed a spider...and when I smashed it a bunch of tiny little baby spiders came out of him. No frekin lie. So I was screaming and trying to kill all the baby spiders that came out of the bigger spider and hit the bigger spider and a lot more baby spiders came out of it and I'm freaking out cause it's 6 in the morning and I had almost stepped on the thing and I'm expecting the baby spiders to come back together into one huge ass spider and try to attack me. *shudders* It was like a bad episode of Buffy..

  4. Well, great. How am I supposed to complain about my 18 hour labor? :) Her's made mine look like a quick walk to the store to buy Popsicles in May. In other words... pleasant.

  5. Awesome! Sounds king of like my story with the Dramasaur...though his nice perfectly round head got stuck ;)

  6. I was in labor for 6 *DAYS*. Fun times. NOT

  7. This made me laugh till I cried. Having just had a vbac with four days of back labour and being to scared to ask for drugs because I DID NOT want an other c-section... this made me feel better. You guys rock. Seriously, why aren't women running the whole world yet?? We're way tougher than guys!!

  8. Another super-laborer here...oy. I started Friday afternoon and gave birth Monday afternoon...those 96 hours earned me the privilege of taking my starving 10 pounder home while I still felt like a limp noodle. I was EXHAUSTED and it took most of my maternity leave to assemble some modicum of with-it-ness. On the other hand, I've never been more confident in my mental and physical strength. Heck, if I could do THAT I can probably do pretty much anything!

  9. Yeah. 3 day labor here, in a German hospital. And I didn't do my research--'cuz if I did, I would have known that most European doctors DON'T BELIEVE IN GIVING PAIN RELIEF, BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE THAT PAIN IS NATURE'S ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE. Fuck that--if it ever happens again, I'll keep my ever-widening ass at home in the bathtub and steadily pop the tylenol.

  10. 72 hours here. Lost my plug when I woke up Friday, and contractions started almost immediately, my youngest was born at 6:22am Monday morning. Not the way you want to finally get a weekend alone with your husband. I was in out of the hospital all day Friday and Saturday. Sunday they finally kept me. I was the one timing my morphine doses and if I could have more. When the finally announced at 8pm Sunday night that I had hit 3cm I excitedly exclaimed through tears "I can get an epidural now!!". The nurse actually had the balls to ask if I was sure I wanted one. I slept for 5 hours once they got that sucker in 3 hours later. Never again.

  11. I'm just going to shut up and thank God's toenails that my hips are as large as they are (I delivered my 9lb 13oz daughter in a little under two hours). I'll take my size 18 arse over 55 hours of labor ANY DAY. You, however have my undying amazement at not cutting someone's head off by hour 10. I would have been even less dignified, and blood would have been spilled.
    I almost hate to say this, since it's too late to help, but letting a clearly unproductive labor continue that long borders on unprofessional. If you ever reproduce again (I wouldn't blame you if you declined the 'privilege'), please don't let them do that to you.

  12. 31 1/2 hours here... 2 epidurals that did NOTHING to help, 2 shots of Nubain that did NOTHING to "take the edge off"... all back labor.. 2 1/2 hrs of pushing.. 2 different kinds of suction cups the dr used to try to help pull her down... oh and did I mention that I had pre-eclampsia.. flat on my back that whole time and my blood pressure was so high they were worried about convulsions.. we're talking 196/168... and then my daughter's heartbeat started dropping whenever I would push... I was terrified.. did I scream and yell? nope.. I just kept whining, weeping in pain, and quietly humming the whole time... it was my way of focusing... but that glorious moment when they said "okay you're having a c-section" I've never been so relieved! it was like angels singing the Hallelujah chorus rofl!

  13. Dear god! The doctors over here in australia would never let you go for 2-3 days. Depending on your perspective, i was 'lucky' to have a 12 hour labour, but by hour 11 i was exhausted, and i mentally gave up the whole thing about fifty times.

    I believe all mothers are warriors, but there should be a greek myth about you!!

  14. I thought I was the only one who feared writing the birth story would trigger PTSD flashbacks. Mine with my son was bad. It went on forever. We kept having complications. Dropping heart rates, cord around the neck 3 times. When they finally took me into emergency surgery I almost bled out. It was the worst night of my life. We almost didn't survive. I don't ever want to think about it again, and honest to god there are parts I have blocked out. That morning though. That was beautiful. The one where the sun came up and we were going to be ok and I finally got to meet him. Maybe I should write that story instead :)

  15. Funny. My son also has a ginormous head. He went straight to walking to avoid dragging his nuggin across the floor. He is now 18 and in college. I had to special order hats for him before he left... size XXL. They are a little tight. Fortunately, labor was only 10 hours. But had decided on natural childbirth. By the time it was over, I was requesting that someone smack me in the head with a bat.

  16. SO glad to hear that there are other enormously sized heads on other people's children! DS will be five in December and we share caps...only he needs it a little looser than I do. It's a bit disconcerting when your child's head is that large but the MRI at 18 months old said everything was fine.

    I didn't have to go through labor but went straight to c-section. The ob/gyn took one look at the sonogram and said "Eh...I'm guessing 10 lbs. You can try a trial of labor but you're going to end up with a c-section." I had been in false labor for a few weeks and said, "Trial of labor, my ass...we're going c-section." The only problem?? The anesthesiologist didn't believe me when I said I don't numb easily...they got the spinal block in, got set up, and started cutting...and I FELT IT...I felt the blade going through the tissues underneath the skin. I screamed bloody murder and all hands went up in the air. The anesthesioligist nurse grabbed a couple of doses of morphine and shot them in my iv and slapped the nitrous mask on my face and the surgeons started injecting local anesthetics. I don't remember much of the rest of it, except the part where I could tell a big something had been pulled out of me and I asked "Is it a boy or girl?" and the doc said, "We don't know yet. That was only the HEAD!" We're one and done, folks.

  17. LOL as the children say about the drugs. After pushing for 12 hours and getting no where with a broad shouldered, giant headed girl they drugged me up and went for the c-section. I dreamed I died and was a technical writer in heaven. Everything was snow white and beautiful and I was really excited because I knew I was going to get to edit/write with the finest writers. I remember booting up my white computer and looking at the first page of the book I was to edit and thinking "Shift! They write just as poorly up here!" I swear I will never dream so lucidly again. PS - she is 16 now and still has a rather large head.

  18. My children both have unnaturally large heads (99%tile every appt for both), but both of mine were days, not hours. I get the impression that days is more common than most people think too. The first I was induced at 38 weeks (gestational diabetes) went to the hosp Sunday night and finally had her Wednesday night after a lot of back labor she was born sunny side up (7 1/2 lbs) which is hard for the body to do. I was actively laboring from Tues morning on though, I gave in and got the epidural a few hours before she was born when I was still only about 5 cm.
    Then I went into labor with my son Thursday morning naturally and didn't have him till Sunday night. I went to the hospital and was sent home twice(contractions constantly under 5 min apart, but too erratic and only 1 cm dilated), they finally kept me Sat morning(contractions steadily 2 min apart, 3 cm). The contractions stayed 2 min apart from then on. It turned out his head was at a funny angle and stuck on my pelvis, I was only 7 cm, frustrated, and screaming in pain about 15 minutes before I had him. They made me sit up (to get ready for an epidural that never happened) and he moved and that was all it took. I then had to actively hold him in till the doc could get there, I had him in 2 pushes, 8 1/2 lbs.

  19. My Stadol trip involved bunnies on a Ferris wheel. After 15 hours of labor (really 3 weeks of contractions but 15 in the hospital, but who is counting?)and 3 hours of pushing I had a c-section. For my second pregnancy, which was twins, I opted for the c-section. No way I was having both recoveries AGAIN!

  20. 55 hours is horrible...but, it could've been worse.

    My labor with my son was a week long. Now, I'm not talking contractions every 2 minutes for a week, but never further than 30 minutes apart for a whole entire week. The cord was around his neck 4 times, so his head wasn't firmly pressing on the cervix, so every time I sat/stood up, my contractions would slow to about twice an hour, making the doctor think it was Braxton-Hix contractions & not real labor. Thank goodness a nurse realized (about 5 minutes before sending me home from the hospital AGAIN) that my son's heart rate was dropping every time I moved/had a contraction/coughed.

    Second baby: C-section because the baby turned breech two days before I went into labor...thank goodness because she had a tiny easy-to-deliver head and huge hard-to-deliver body! (11 1/2 lbs)

    Last baby: Thank goodness for a planned c-section because of the two previous c-sections, because her head was so big they had difficulties delivering her even via c-section. Normal head size is 12-13 inches around, hers was over 15 inches.

  21. Very interesting and also great. I'm glad to find out this site immediately. It's very informativePTSD




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