For the squeamish among you, look away now – you’ve no real need to read this. However, if you’re planning on having a baby – here’s my no holds barred account of my labor experience (as in, the medical fact account, the decisions we made and the very quick labor that brought our little bubs in to this world!) It’s by no means a ‘typical’ experience, but it brought the most beautiful little boy in to our lives and I figure I should document it, to compare against his future brothers and sisters!
So, we were at 36 + 5 and had just dropped my best friend off at the airport, having had her turn up wholly unannounced for the weekend – talk about a shocker! Let’s just say, I’m glad we had mani-Pedi’s done while she was here, at least I had pretty nails in labour!
We had finally gotten our to-do list down to a few things, sell Col’s car, get my old car serviced, hire a cleaner, sort and rehang the picture frames we’d taken down before Christmas for our transfer, get Col’s work shirts laundered, take some stuff to Goodwill, go to the post office to send my BFF’s baby gift before she went in to labor (she was at 38 +6) and give the house a general tidy (we started this room by room and were pretty much finished upstairs).
I had committed to an SSA coffee morning in Missouri City, Thursday morning (36+6), and, in spite of it being a high blood pressure day, I went off to coffee, determined that I wasn’t going to let this high blood pressure/threat of Preeclampsia take away my last few weeks of progress.
By lunch time, however, my numbers continued to climb, I called the nurse at my OB’s office, left a message and drove up to our mechanic’s garage to drop off the Saab and pick up Col and by the time I got to the garage, she’d called back to say, ‘come in for monitoring’.
In the car on the way home, I asked Col if we should stop by the house and grab an overnight bag – just in case, though changing car’s to the car that had the baby’s car seat and throwing our ‘hospital bags’ in the boot, just didn’t occur to either of us. As far as we were concerned, we were going to be observed and sent home, like previous times we were called in to the hospital, having been told ‘just watch your blood pressures’.
I also didn’t stop somewhere to eat, again, cause we figured we’d get sent home and eat then. So let’s note, I had 2 fish tacos and a cupcake at 11-ish and we were on our way to the hospital!
After a round of bloods, blood pressure and urine, the nurse announced we were being induced – that I was showing signs of preeclampsia and the only way to cure it, was to take the kiddo out. Well. Let’s just mention here, there was no discussion, no time to process, no option, it was ‘let’s get this kiddo out’ and that was that. It was around 5pm.
The rest almost passed by in a hazy blur, I tried to keep some notes on my phone, so that I could blog (duh!) and remember exactly what happened. The plan was ‘simple’, cervix softener (x2 around five hours apart if nothing was happening), Pitocin, break waters and labour.
At 8pm, I had my first cervix softener (which, apparently is a 1/4 of a baby aspirin, inserted in to your cervix), which was repeated at 1am – not the most pleasant of experience, but whatever.
At 3.17am I was only 2cm dilated and was given Pitocin (which I had no real time to think about, yet, was mildly concerned as I hadn’t done my research on the drug – thinking we had a few weeks to go – so was vaguely aware that this may be a bad idea).
At 3.35am there appears an OBGYN who was on the ward delivering another baby, it turns out my OBGYN had woken up to check on my progress, heard she was on the ward and sent her in to break my waters – essentially a chick with a crochet hook pops a water balloon in your va-j-j, you feel a gush and so starts the labor process!
The nurse suggested I take my epidural around 5.30am while the anesthesiologist was in our side of the building, considering that the contractions were strong and regular, it wasn’t a bad idea – I was around 4.5cm.
The epidural hurt going in, but I knew it would and I was prepared for it. Between the needle and the contractions, I gripped the bed and thought of Hawaii. Waves lapping the beach – calming, relaxing thoughts – the guy was sticking a needle in my spine after all.
At 5.30am, I was still around 4.5cm dilated and around 75% effaced, his head was down and ‘sunny side up’ (as in he was facing my front instead of my butt), but labor was going slowly – so they increased my dose of Pitocin. It was shortly thereafter that my epidural broke down. I started feeling isolated, and seriously strong contraction pains in my right hip, they were every few minutes and hurt like absolute crazy – because of the high dose of Pitocin to make the contractions stronger!
The nurse called another anesthesiologist, who said he’d have to take out the first epi (noooo!) and put in a second one (double no!!) but considering how agonizing my then 6cm contractions were, I didn’t hesitate. However, that hour, was insufferable, trying to have an epidural put in between contractions – also, insufferable, at which point, my blood pressure, and baby’s heart rate dropped pretty low, so I was put on oxygen to try and chill us both out a little.
Epidural-ing, is probably a skill that very, VERY few people possess. That’s why I’m perfectly fine with paying the drug-pushers the big bucks – he was playing around in my SPINE! Yes, I made up a word, I do that. Also, once it was in, I still felt things, but it was much, much duller kind of way. I wasn’t grunting through pain – the epidural took!
At this point, the nurse was starting to get concerned, she guessed he was going to top out around 8lbs and she was murmuring about the chances of a C-section, which concerned me slightly, because, section was not, at all, in my birth plan – I hadn’t read much about that either, and the unknown is pretty scary, so I was a little wigged.
The external monitors weren’t doing so well at keeping up with a wiggly baby, so, they put internal monitors on. It turns out that a lot of my amniotic fluid was still pooled in there, so they had to clear it out – which hurt quite a bit, in spite of the epidural.
At 12.30pm, I was 6cms, baby still hadn’t turned around yet, so my nurse had me roll to one side and put the ‘top’ knee into a stirrup. Shortly after flipping to my other side, I very classy-like, told my nurse that I felt an overwhelming need to poop, ‘Then bear down’ she said, not sure what that was, I guessed push – so I pushed.
A few minutes later, she was shrieking ‘stop! Stop pushing! Dr Diase isn’t here yet!”, I asked her what percentage of women, crowning in labor, can stop pushing when asked? She didn’t have an answer! LOL!
I think I pushed twice or three times, huge, long, deep pushes and baby arrived, no OBGYN in the room – delivered by Mendy our nurse, who had called for any back up she could get, and Col – who was holding my leg the whole time – due to a stirrup malfunction.
The cord was cut by daddy and our little bubble, was pronounced perfect – only 45 minutes later, at 1.15pm.
The nurses (and our OBGYN) were incredulous, practically zero first time mothers have such an easy labor and delivery. Pushing for so little time, baby turning so easily etc. Our little guy practically delivered himself – even at three weeks early, he was ready and eager to be born and see his parents
Doting daddy rocked out with Lewis, while mummy was stitched up by Dr Diase, who arrived moments later, announcing she’d been waiting for this child all day and had missed his big entrance!
Things to note:
- In this country people think it’s abnormal if you don’t want your baby boy circumcised. Everyone will ask you. EVERYONE. And they’ll make a weird face when you say ‘no’, EVERY time.
- If you have pre-Eclampsia, you very may well be put on a magnesium sulphate IV for 24 hours starting when the baby arrives, to prevent seizures. For me, this meant a catheter and 24 hours in bed. For Col, this meant that for the first 24 hours, baby was pretty much solely dependent on him, and any mummy interaction was after being ferried to and from his bed by daddy.
- No matter how well prepared you are, or you think you are – something unexpected could always happen. We were prepared, we had all bags packed and ready to go – right next to the front door, car seat was installed – and we ended up with the ‘wrong’ car at the hospital!!
We planned for a ‘regular’ delivery at 40 weeks, but my health issues called for a 37 week induction.
We had so many plans and ideas on how we’d have liked things to go (I’m going to do a separate blog-post about breast feeding and other ‘issues’ I had), and you need to be somewhat flexible, don’t put pressure on yourself. I opted for an epidural, because I have a low pain threshold, I’m a whiner, and I really had nothing to prove to anyone during my labor. When it failed and I got a taste of ‘real, active labor’, it made me 100% sure I’d made the right decision.
- Be your own advocate. Don’t be afraid to speak up, trust your gut/instinct – especially in the USA where you are, realistically, paying for a service. My three-day stay in the hospital (not including once baby was born and started his own tab) was billed to the insurance company at $21.5k – that’s not a small bill.
Be very clear about your wishes, breast or bottle, pacifier or no, immediate skin-to-skin, circumcision etc – you are the only person who has your baby’s absolute best interests at heart, you are the only one who knows your plan – share it, stick to it and don’t feel like you have to defend it. Write it down, make copies and hand it out if you have to. That way, the staff will know your intentions from the get-go and you’ll have as much control over the situation as you can possibly retain.
- No matter how hellish your journey may be, C-section or vaginal, drugs or no, breast or bottle – it will all be worth it in the instant you see your little one.
Our little Lewis was certainly worth the wait and work!