Maybe you aren’t quite like me, but for the two weeks before my due date, possibly even longer than that, I would lay in bed at night and ask my belly if it would be tonight that it happened. I would lay there and feel the Braxton Hicks trying to guess if they were related to early labor. Of course, every morning I would wake up and think, nope, not last night. Why was I thinking night? It seems to me that through reading and hearing peoples experiences that night time is the most common time to go into labor., especially if you’re getting ready for bed. I spent at least a month asking if it would be that night, and it still hadn’t happened.
My baby didn’t come until almost two weeks past his due date. I know they say it’s more common to have a baby past your due date especially for your first child. But based on my Mothers experience I thought it might be possible or even probable that my experience would be similar to hers. Including having a short labor like hers which I believe if I can remember right were around six hours and four hours. Another reason I wan’ted to have my baby early was because earlier babies tend to be smaller, and that usually means and easier birth as well.
I had started to go to the see the midwives more frequently as it was past my due date. (The hospital I was going to had a group of midwives that worked there, and I was very happy with that.) I was given stress tests to make sure my baby was alright, and to measure how my contractions were. Once it was long enough they also wanted to do an ultrasound to make sure the baby was alright. It was, and they then commented on how much my belly was all baby. I was thinking, great a huge baby, not really what I want to give birth to. The next visit I had after that was just a stress test, and it was a Sunday, it was rather odd to be in a hospital on a Sunday. Of course at that point my partner and I were planning the rest of our day, we lived about an hour away from the hospital I was going to, and we figured I wasn’t in labor yet, what else are we going to do? It seemed like I would wake up one day and not be pregnant anymore and the whole experience a dream.
That wasn’t the case. The midwife on duty that day came in and started talking about how they thought I was in the early stages of labor, and the babies heart rate was dropping occasionally when I would have a contraction. They wanted to induce me to help the process along. Surprised as we were of course we went along with the suggestion. I never had a solid birth plan, just guidelines on what I would like to have happen. One of those things was hoping the baby was early and not too big, I had already missed that. Another was having a natural birth, which being induced doesn’t quite count on that note, but I still wanted to have it be that was as much as possible, at first at least. I had even wanted to have a home birth at one point, although after realizing how expensive it would be compared to already having insurance and going to the hospital I slowly changed my mind about that one. With hindsight, I’m very very happy I ended up going the hospital route, I probably would have ended up there anyway or something might have happened to my baby without the ability to monitor the heart rate.
My Mom and Step-Dad came after a little while, they were close by, and I had told my Mom that she could be with me for the birth. My Step-Dad stayed until I had decided I wanted an epidural, at which point they made everyone leave, but he stayed in the hospital the rest of the time. Why did I opt for the epidural when I had been planning on just a natural birth? For those who have been induced you could probably understand, I was terrified of getting a giant needle in my back, especially because I tent to have some issues with it, I always have. But after being induced and it only being a few hours into the experience of labor I knew it would be a long road ahead if I had twice as much time in that much pain or more. I thought it wouldn’t have been so painful until close to the end, and I knew that I wasn’t. For those who don’t know, what they use to induce you, in my case pitocin, makes labor a lot more painful than it would be naturally. Also on that note, labor also gets more painful when your waters break. Before I decided on the epidural I did try the other painkiller they had that they said was safe, and since I was already hooked up to an IV it was easy to do. When they told me that each time they gave it to you it would be less effective I was thinking, oh no, this doesn’t work. Maybe if I had been more free to move it wouldn’t have been quite so painful, but because of my babies dropping heart rate I had to stay in pretty much one position, every time I tried something else it would drop, sometimes dramatically and the nurse and midwife would get very worried. Also I was hooked up to an IV, which doesn’t make movement as easy as it should be.
When they came in to do the epidural it was someone who hadn’t had a ton of experience with actually giving one. She had someone with her in case she needed some extra guidance, that didn’t ease my conscience about it at all I must tell you. But they told me to hold very still, and do my best while working through contractions. So that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t move at all no matter how painful my contractions were. Halfway through she turned around and asked the guy with her if it looked right to him. I was just trying to tell myself that it would be okay no matter what, and trying not to think about what she had just said. When I was finally done the nurse commented on what a good job I did holding still. I was surprised thinking, you told me to hold still and they’re poking giant needles in my spine. Of course I’m going to be still! It didn’t feel anything like I expected. I thought I wouldn’t even know my lower half of my body was there or that I would feel paralyzed or something. But I didn’t, I still had feeling, they gave me a clicker with medicine in it to help the pain. Each dose lasted half an hour to an hour and there was only so much in it. I used it has barely as I had to, waiting until the pain started to get unbearable before clicking.
If you don’t already know, having an epidural slows things down in a way that makes labor take longer. I was already 9 cm when they gave me mine, everyone is surprised to know they gave it to me so late in the game, but it was still hours before my baby was born. My waters never broke on their own, They ended up breaking them so they could monitor the babies heart better from inside close to when I was going to need to start pushing. I pushed for over an hour with him, although not very hard. They also had me on oxygen and between pushes made me drink some water or something to keep hydrated, the oxygen made my throat very dry. Finally after all that time, as I had been watching the clock on the wall thinking about what time would he be born (when it was three am I was excited that he would be born the hour of the wolf, the time when most people are born and die.) It was about an hour and a half past when I thought it might be. Several nurses were suddenly in there and pushed on my belly to help the baby out. My son had finally be born, and he gave me a pretty good scar to top it off. Thankfully I was already hooked up to the epidural so I didn’t feel anything as they stitched me up, my midwife had to get second opinions twice as they stitched me, and it took over an hour. He was 8 lbs 12.9 oz. Although he peed right before they weighed him we usually just round it to 13 oz. A big solid baby.
Because of slightly raised body temperatures in both myself and my baby they wanted to give him a small IV of antibiotics while we stayed in the hospital. They took him and his father went with them, after over an hour of trying they still couldn’t get one in him, his dad was all grumpy and made them bring him back to me. They were worried that his blood sugar was low, but of course that was because he hadn’t even gotten to nurse yet. When I got a hold of him poor boy was so exhausted all he wanted to do was cuddle on me and sleep, he didn’t even want to eat. They ended up giving him a small bottle of formula, even though I didn’t really want them to, they needed to make sure he was okay and not diabetic. Part of the reason they were worried was because of his size. After a couple hours they said they wanted to try to IV again, and they were bringing in their helicopter specialist to try and get it. My son’s dad was thinking, if he can’t get it in three tries we aren’t doing it. Fortunately/unfortunately he was able to get the IV, though not on his first try, it was either his 2nd or 3rd. I wasn’t there so I don’t really remember.
Staying in the hospital was great, especially as young new parents who didn’t know what we were doing. We had our baby stay with us and he pretty much slept in the fairly small double hospital bed while we were there, instead of what they had given us to put him in. If I have another child I hope I can stay a few days in the hospital instead of coming back to home life right away, although I don’t know what my son would do. It didn’t go any way I thought it might, but I had already accepted that, I couldn’t imagine being stuck on an idea about how it should have gone. We were both fine over all, it was just a bit intense.. But isn’t all child birth? Despite the issues, I would go through it again to have another child. Maybe that’s because I did have an epidural, I might want to change my mind if I hadn’t. If there’s a next time I hope I do get to do it without being induced and without an epidural. We’ll just have to wait and see how I like it then. Oh, but life truly is amazing.