First I want to say that my first birth experience was not ideal though the end result (my little girl) was perfect, of course. :) I had no idea what to expect, was scared, and had no plan. I labored for 14 hours, had an epidural that worked for awhile but then only kept one side of me pain-free, and I pushed for 2 hours, writhing from back labor the entire time. My daughter had swallowed meconium and was rushed off and suctioned, cleaned, and who-knows-what-else while the doctor stitched up (I don’t know how many but it was a lot, like 20 I think) my episiotomy and literally pulled the afterbirth out (um ow). When it was all over I told my husband, “Please, let’s never do this again…” (laughing now at that, but it was traumatic!)
So this time around, I was nervous about how the birthing experience would be. My pregnancy was pretty miserable due to extreme pelvic pressure and pain for the entire third trimester. I kept expecting to give birth early but ended up having to wait until over a week past my due date, something excruciatingly frustrating to me. I didn’t want to be induced because I was given Pitocin with Emma and it made the labor sooo painful. But I began to feel desperate the more time passed. So I made the appointment to be induced 8 days after my due date, hoping against hope that I would go into labor before then.
I didn’t. And I didn’t. And another day passed and I didn’t. So on the night before the day I was supposed to be induced I packed my bags, planned for the induction, and went to bed.
At 12:45 a.m. I woke up and felt a little crampy. It was nothing new, I’d been having intense contractions every night for a week with no real action. So I ignored it and got up to go to the bathroom (pea-sized bladder, ya know). I immediately realized I was leaking amniotic fluid – something just felt different, not so great, and the fluid leaking was clear and it just kept coming. After I got up and was walking around the house with my heart beating fast, I started wondering if I had just imagined it. I wasn’t feeling any contractions yet. I wondered if I should call Labor and Delivery or wait. I just kept walking around until I started contracting – and yes, it did happen in the next few minutes. By 1 a.m. I was getting contractions that I knew were real – I couldn’t walk through them and they were getting more and more frequent so I called Labor and Delivery. They put me on hold! All I could think was that if I had my baby at home because of these people I was going to sue. ;-) Finally a nurse came onto the phone and I told her everything that had happened. She told me to come in right away and so off I went to wake up my husband.
John didn’t believe me right away when I told him I was really in labor. I assured him I knew it for sure this time and so we got moving. I was pretty much ready and remember telling John to TIE HIS DANG SHOES FASTER. *sheepish grin* I had heard of women giving birth in the car and did not want that to be me.
We dropped my daughter off at a friend’s (she agreed to be on call for me – she rocks!) and we went straight to the hospital – thankfully no problems getting there! I did have to remind John of a few turns so I know he wasn’t quite awake. I certainly WAS. When I arrived, they put me in a triage room to check me and see if I was really in labor before admitting me. I’m sure it was obvious since I had to keep stopping along the way to get through contractions. The midwife who checked me noted that I was 5 cm and 90% effaced. “Oh, your membranes are still intact here…” she said, indicating that my water hadn’t actually broken, but even as she said it my water broke right there on the bed. We had no idea how fast I would progress from there. She asked what my birth plan was – did I want an epidural or to labor in a hot tub?
Laboring in a Hot Tub
I perked up at the thought of the hot tub but by then the contractions were painful enough I wasn’t sure I wanted to try or not. The thing that finally made me decide on the hot tub was the fact that they needed to get an IV started and some fluids in me before they could get the epidural in me anyway so I could wait in the tub if I wanted. If I wanted to stay and labor in the tub I could. So off we headed to the hot tub room, slow going with contractions coming every 3 minutes or so. The hot tub looked exactly like the one on the right here – with doors that seal and they fill the tub for you with warm water. I got in, hospital gown and all (I’m modest), and immediately felt more relaxed – it really is very nice! But the contractions continued to come and boy were they painful and getting more so all the time. I’d never felt pain that bad before, I’m not sure if my contractions with Emma ever got that bad before the epidural kicked in with her. So after about 30 minutes I was more than ready to get out of that tub and get the epidural. Out I came, glad that I at least tried laboring in the water. I had wanted to have a water birth with Emma and I’m SO glad I didn’t try to go all natural because I like having the option of getting pain meds. It would have been hellish trying to get through hours of labor like that!
Off I went to one of the big birthing rooms. The first thing I noticed was the giant open windows with a view of the mountains. Beautiful, but I felt like the whole WORLD could see me! Then they told me that we could see out but people couldn’t see in. Okay, cool then. I was in so much pain I stopped worrying about exposure pretty quick. I hoped the nurses were telling me the truth, though. They checked me again and I was 6-7 cm along and pretty much completely effaced. I reminded them minute-ly about the epidural until the anesthesiologist came in, a nice woman with a great bedside manner. She did SUCH a great job with the epidural (which by the way does not hurt to have put in – it’s nothing like the pain of a contraction). Soon I wasn’t feeling the horrible contractions and I was sooo happy. Oh, bliss, to escape that pain!
Now getting an epidural may or may not have slowed down my labor – I’m not sure and I don’t care. It was so worth it! We only had to wait after that until it was time to push, and they said I would feel the pressure when the time came. I was a little worried because I wasn’t sure I would know when to push. With my first labor, the epidural was wearing off so that I could feel the pain by the time it was time to push but I still couldn’t feel any urge to push. They prodded me through it to push and after two hours of torture Emma was born. I was really afraid this would happen again – both that the epidural would wear off and that I wouldn’t know when to push. But 3 1/2 short hours later (during which we tried to rest but had a had a very hard time knowing what was coming) the nurse came back in and decided to check me again. Apparently I was ready because she asked, “Do you feel like pushing?” I didn’t really know, I didn’t feel an “intense urge” if that’s what I was supposed to feel. She told me to give a little push and see what happened. The baby moved down! And so she sent for the midwife.
Delivery… by a midwife!
I couldn’t believe it was actually time to push already! The midwife came in and when they told her I was ready to push she said, “Okay, well maybe we should get the area ready for delivery before she pushes him out?” It’s funny how calm everyone was, and there were only two nurses and midwife in the room. With my first birth the whole world was going in and out the whole time with my private parts facing them the whole time. Talk about disconcerting and NOT relaxing. This time the lights were dimmed and everyone talked quietly. I could almost not believe I was having a baby, shouldn’t it be more … frantic? Well, it was already vastly different for me because I wasn’t writhing in pain. It was awesome!
The midwife prepared warm oils and told me to go ahead and push with the next contraction. The baby moved down further, and then I pushed one more time. She told me to stop and breathe and began pouring the warm oils on and massaging the area to allow it to stretch slowly with each push. I was beginning to feel that the baby was there and knew that it wouldn’t take much to have him out, but waited patiently (hey, I couldn’t feel any pain anyway). In two more pushes he was out, and they immediately put him on my chest. It was sooo surreal and miraculous and amazing, the whole experience.
He did swallow some fluid, though thankfully not meconium, and so he didn’t have the tone they quite wanted and didn’t scream bloody murder like I was expecting. We massaged his back and he perked up, coughing up some of the fluid. To be safe, they did suction out his little belly and he did a lot better after that. He didn’t want to nurse right away because of the fluid but over the next 8 hours he was nursing regularly with some persistence.
And he was sooo beautiful! Look at these pictures, taken minutes after he was born:
After that I endured the usual things: The nurses pressing on my uterus (OW OW OW) and then poking us with needles and checking our vitals every hour. I didn’t want to leave Emma too long with my friend (she only slept an hour there) so after I knew everything was going to be routine I sent my husband to pick Emma up and take her home for a much-needed nap. The postpartum rooms were full so I stayed in the birthing room for about five hours, but it awful because I felt like I was forgotten and instead of sleeping like I needed to I was just wired. I was still very sore and trying to get my baby out of the bassinet to nurse was really hard. Eventually I rang for a nurse and got some pain medication, and finally a room opened up and someone came in to move me.
There’s a requirement at the hospital I gave birth at for women who have an epidural to have a catheter in for 12 hours AFTER. That was not a happy surprise for me… a nurse had told me before that I would need to keep it in afterward but didn’t mention how long. Ew. The reasoning behind this is that the epidural can impair bladder function for a long time after it has been removed and worn off for the most part. Thus, you won’t feel the need to go and your bladder will stretch – not good for it. So I had this catheter and and when someone came to get me and move me to the postpartum room it was very full. Embarrassing for someone to know how much you’ve peed, for some reason…
Postpartum, and Big Sister Meets Lil’ Bro for the First Time
Anyway, it was sweet relief to be moved to a smaller, cozier room, and finally get some help. The nurses were awesome there, bringing me ice chips and medication and whatever I needed. And yes, I did take the ibuprofen and stronger meds because the cramping was pretty bad and my spine felt very sore, too. You really need to be able to move around to take care of that baby, too.
And so I rested, and later that evening John and Emma came to bring me snacks to put in the little refrigerator and some other things I needed. Like a toothbrush (somehow that didn’t make it into my bag, lol). Emma was SO cute when she came prancing in with her little crocheted cap on her head. Apparently she and daddy were having a total BLAST together, it was so sweet. She was excited to see mommy and introducing her to the baby was hilarious because she really just said, “Aw, baby!” and then was obsessed with the fact that he had a pacifier, too. Later when we brought him home, though, she had settled down a bit and realized that oh, we’re keeping this guy. ;-)
I need to stop now, right? This is getting long! lol So I stayed that night and was able to leave the next morning at about 11 a.m. They actually wanted to keep me another night but I missed my family and wanted to get some real rest, not the kind where you’re interrupted by random blood draws and vital checks and “Do you need anything” – not to mention those walls are not sound proof and I would hear loud laughter (from nurses I’m assuming) and things rolling by, etc.
The Truth About Hospital Food
The only other thing I wanted to mention is that hospital food is really bad, LOL. I ordered a hamburger one time (my first meal after the baby), and later that night a greek salad and black bean and rice burrito and by the time they got to me they were lukewarm and everything was pretty flavorless. I should write them a letter… ;-)
Home time has been great, we’ve settled into a little pattern after being home a week and the baby is sleeping pretty well through the night, only waking me up 2 or 3 times. Halleluliah! The first two nights were ROUGH because he didn’t want to sleep at all, but by keeping things lively and playing with him during the day and keeping things QUIET and dark and unstimulating at night is working I think. :) I still feel a little crampy and sore but I’m healing.
I am SO happy with my birthing experience overall. I mean really really happy. I can’t believe everything went to well, especially the actual birth. The fact that I didn’t have to have an episiotomy, that I delivered after only a few pushes, and was pain-free during that time thrills me to my fingertips. I can’t imagine doing it any other way – that epidural really made it so that I was able to enjoy and be a part of the birth, witness the miracle. And the midwife and atmosphere of the birthing? It was amazing. Something I won’t ever forget!