Expect the Unexpected: Labor and Delivery is Never Going to Be What You Think
Updated: Mar 23, 2021
No matter how many books, articles, or blogs you read, you can not know how your labor/delivery is going to go. Your body and your baby are operating on their own, and you are along for the ride. I don't know every possible scenario, but I can share my experience with you, to help maybe take away some of the mystery. I'll walk you through my two labor stories, first with Eli and then with Max.
So, my first labor/delivery was no bueno. I was due the week of spring break and my doctor had a vacation planned. So, I could schedule an induction before she left, which was 4 days past my due date, or ride it out a little longer, and have whatever doctor was on call be with me. I opted to schedule with my doctor.
We did not set ourselves up for success the night before. We stayed up super late just being antsy and packing and cleaning till 2:00 am. (Don't do that if you are scheduled to be at the hospital at 6:00 am) We get to the hospital at 6:30 am, and don't start the induction meds until 9:00 am. But let me back up and walk you through the whole day.
So, we get there, I get weighed, change into a gown, fill out paper work, and get a nurse who is a little off her game. She tries to find a vein to put an iv in, and ends up breaking two blood vessels under the skin, which does not feel good as it turns out. She then tells me she gets help if she has to try three times. (Uh, what? and please do.)
A nice, older nurse comes in with a sympathetic look, and has no problem finding a vein and putting in my iv on my right arm since my left is toast. When my doctor sees my arm later, she is not happy. Since I was being induced, and did not begin labor on my own, my doctor broke my water for me. Which is not uncomfortable at all, she just inserted a loop and gently tugged. It was just a crazy sensation when that amount of liquid was released from my body.
Back to the nurse, she is very passive, reluctant, and seems to be waiting on cues from me, as to what to do, to help accelerate this birth. Once the meds start to take affect, I start having contractions. Most of the day is waiting for the contractions to become more and more productive, dilation to complete, and baby's head to drop into position. I did not see my doctor most of the day, she continued to see patients at her practice, and just drops in a few times to see if I've made progress. The doctor is there when the action starts and the baby is ready to come. So, the nurse is the key person for the majority of the hospital experience.
Contractions are no joke, they hurt. Once my contractions start coming on more regularly, and I'm ready for some relief, the anesthesiologist comes to administer the epidural.
He was the best part of the day. One minute I was in tears, sobbing from the excruciating pain, the next he is asking what my pain is on a scale from 1 to 10. I said I don't know with a smile on my face. He says that's a 0.
It is hard to stay still when they are putting in the needle for the epidural, because there is an intense burning sensation when it is initially stuck in the spine, and I naturally wanted to arch away from it. Knowing this the next time, helped me be prepared for the sting, because I knew it was coming, and was better able to remain still.
So, after little progress, shift changes in the evening at 7:00 pm, and we get a fresh nurse who is vibrant, confident, and has tricks up her sleeves. She has me rotate from side to side every 30 minutes with one leg elevated in a stirrup. This helps my baby's head to drop and me to dilate. When the baby's head drops into position it feels like you need to poop. It just does, trust me. And this means it's go time.
My contractions are starting to reach the activity the doctor is looking for, but each time this occurs, my baby's heart rate drops, and they have to back off the induction meds to relax the contractions and improve his heart rate. After two attempts to ramp up my contractions with the same result, my doctor informs me that if this happens again, we'll have to do a C-section. I did not want a C-section, I just didn't, so this made me very upset and overwhelmed. But we tried one more time. They increased the meds, and my contractions started doing their thing, and my baby's heart rate held steady, so it was finally go time.
There are different stages of labor, I did not go into active labor until 12:00 am, 15 hours after the induction started.
I want to walk you through the whole pushing during labor just because there is a lot going on simultaneously. Of course the doctor and nurse will walk you through what to do, but just in case you want a heads up, here's what I did.
There is a rhythm to the pushing, the doctor is watching a monitor to see the contraction coming. When the contraction comes, this is when you push. Since I had an epidural, the contraction felt kind of like a flutter or vibration, so when this happened I took a deep breath, then lifted my head and shoulders up off the bed (like doing a crunch) and wrapped my hands around the back of my knees when doing this. Elbows are up off the bed. And either the legs are in stirrups, or if you have enthusiastic nurses, they may be holding your legs up, my knees were bent, so I was in a horizontal squatting position. My nurse told me to push like I was pooping underwater. So, deep breath, then while doing all the things above, release my breath as I'm trying my best to poop/push this baby out. Then, I relax and breath, and get ready for the next contraction, and repeat until baby comes.
Eli was born at 2:48 am. Labor was hard, he did not want to come out. I ended up having an episiotomy, and my doctor used some kind of medical vacuum to help move him along. After all that, and over 2 1/2 hours of laboring/pushing, Eli came into the world.
The reason his heart rate kept dropping when my contractions were more active was, because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and then being squeezed and tightened during contractions. A NICU team accessed Eli immediately after he was born to see if there was anything wrong due to the presence of meconium aka baby poop when my water was broken. He was deemed a healthy kiddo, and so I got to do skin to skin while my doctor sewed me up.
Now, let me describe my second birth experience.
So, fast forward to my pregnancy with Max. Again my kiddo was anchored in there. I was hoping I could go into labor naturally, but 9 days past my due date, we went in for another induction with the same doctor. I went to bed early the night before, but it's still a struggle to be anywhere by 6:00 am, but we managed, and dropped off our oldest at grandma and grandpa's on the way.
I still don't think we started the induction meds until about 9:00 am. It just takes a while for them to do their thing, paper work, iv, all that jazz. Again we had a new, not so with it nurse, but we also had an awesome, experienced nurse who kept an eye on the newbie. So, I focused on the confident nurse and things went well. Once again, my doctor broke my water with the same effect, so no problems there, and no meconium this time.
Of course, it's a lot of waiting for the drugs to kick in and start contractions. Once they became excruciating and my dilation had progressed, I asked for the epidural.
My nurse had a trick for the epidural. She had me hug a pillow and wrapped her arms around my neck and shoulders and held me still with her weight. She wasn't pushing down, just kind of hugging me, and helping me maintain my posture for the anesthesiologist. It was awesome, and I told her so.
The anesthesiologist was not as rad as the first one. He kept saying things like, oh, this pregnancy has really affected the spine, and I don't know if this is going to work. Things I would have preferred he kept to himself, but in the end it worked.
My nurses kept coming in to check on my dilation, and were happy and positive every time there was a minute change. Which is great, but I told them, that's not even halfway, and no we're not celebrating yet. I was friendly and kind, but I did not want to get excited until the real deal was going down. I'd been here before for a really long time, and I wasn't going to put on my party hat until I was good and ready.
This time we also used a thing they refer to as a peanut. The peanut is just a peanut shaped exercise ball, that they placed between by legs when I laid on my side to help spread the pelvis and give the baby a little more room to drop in position. So, this was the same thinking as last time, when the nurse elevated my leg in the stirrup, but now they had gotten a comfortable, inflated peanut shape to use. I recommend it if they have one, or improvise with the stirrups.
When, I was finally dilated at 10, the nurses asked if they could smile now. (Hahaha, and I said, oh ya!) My labor came more quickly this go round, Max was born at 5:28 pm after 15 minutes of active labor/pushing. Quite the difference. I had a full house cheering me on this time too, the nurse manager, my doctor, my two nurses, and of course Bobby. Max was 9 lbs 15 oz. You heard me. That's a 10 lb baby! We did skin to skin, my doctor sewed me up, there was a minor tear, and then a scrub nurse cleaned me up while I snuggled our new baby boy.
So, that was my labor/birth experience. I hope it sheds some light on the whole thing. I'll be posting my postpartum experience soon. Thanks for reading!
ps I felt like super woman after finding out I had a 10 lb baby. I told my nurses, I feel like I can do anything, and they nodded and smiled and said, you can.
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