Many blogs and articles claim to tell you the things nobody tells you about labor and delivery. I won’t claim any of that, I’ll just tell you the story of my little mans entrance into the world.
I went into labor at 3:30 am, and I knew I was having a real contraction right away. As cheesy as it sounds you will “just know” when it’s real. You will, the pain is pretty obviously intense. It feels like a period cramp from hell. Imagine your worst period cramp ever, then double it, that’s what my first contractions felt like. They got progressively more intense, but you’d be surprised how tough you are and how long you can deal with them.
My contractions came quicker and closer together, and we had to leave for the hospital at 5. When we got there about 15 minutes later I was admitted and dilated to 2 cm. They placed an IV in my right hand, and then started handing me forms and paperwork to read and sign. In between contractions, I have no idea what I signed, honestly. Hospitals should really give you this paperwork like 2 weeks ahead of time and then just keep it on file. That would make so much more sense.
I labored, which is a weird term because you’re not really doing anything other than dealing with contractions, for about 5 hours. Contractions are difficult, you’ll be totally fine, and then the contraction will shut you down for a full minute, and then fine again. My husband, bless his heart, tried to do the things they taught in labor class. Mostly though I had him read to me, hand me water, and shut up.
After a few hours my doctor came and broke my bag of waters. So then I got the lovely sensation of peeing myself perpetually. I kid you not every time you move, gush. Everytime the baby moves, gush. They put towels under you but it’s seriously so much water just leaking out of you. Also, breaking the bag of waters is not comfortable. What hurts isn’t the tearing of the bag, it’s the doctor getting her hand up there to tear it.
After 5 hours the nurse needed to put a heart rate monitor on the babys scalp because the belly monitor couldn’t keep track adequately. Babys heartbeat skipped every 3rd beat, and the machine couldn’t map that. The nurse recommended I go ahead and get my epidural since placing the monitor would be “really uncomfortable, more than breaking your water”. Knowing this, and that given how far I’d dilated by 10 am, (3 cm), I chose to go ahead with the epidural. Because it seemed likely that I wouldn’t be ready to deliver until sometime that evening.
The anesthesiologist came in, and my husband was kicked out for the procedure. The anesthesiologist administered some local pain killers, this is to help me be more comfortable as he inserted the giant needle. Now, I didn’t see the needle but some research previously had indicated the needle is quite intimidating. So try your best to avert your eyes as they bring in the tools. Epidurals are inserted into your back, it’s a catheter into your spinal cord.
My nurse helped me bend over my belly on the side of the bed, (complete with awkward gushing). The anesthesiologist then inserted the epidural, which I didn’t feel until he popped it into my spine. That I felt, and it did not feel good. It pops, and feels like a sprained ankle in the middle of your spine. For about 30 seconds, then they turn on the juice. Once they kick on the meds it feels like cool water running down your back. You lose feeling in and the ability to move your legs, but then you feel no pain.
Contractions become something to watch on the monitor not the demons you’ve been struggling to breathe through. Instantly you’re like, “psh I could do 30 hours of labor.” You’re emboldened because you don’t feel pain anymore. Weirdly you still feel, you just don’t feel pain.
I got my epidural at 10ish am. At around 11:30 am my contractions were really irregular. They were coming every 5-10 minutes. To counter this my nurse gave me some pitocin, just to regulate them out. Then she traded off with another nurse and went to lunch.
At 12:45 I sent my husband downstairs to locate the valet ticket. (He may have also taken this opportunity to get himself a sandwich, but as he says “you can’t prove anything”) He was still gone at 1pm when they checked me and found that I was fully dilated. A quick phone call and he made a mad dash to the elevators. Except the elevators he went downstairs on only go downstairs unless you have a key card. Luckily he snagged a doctor who understood the situation and just happened to also be our delivery doctor.
I pushed through 4 or 5 contractions, maybe 15 or 20 minutes. On the 3rd or 4th round babys head was in the birth canal but not out, this made his heart rate drop. The doctor grabbed the vacuum extractor and on the next contraction, with a little assistance, I delivered my little bundle.
His head was all cone shapes, he was blue, and he had icky stuff on him. The first thing I said was, “He has hair.” And then, “what is he?” Which made no sense to anyone but my husband. Since we had decided not to find out what he was, but we thought he was a boy we’d been referring to him as him. So even though I had no idea if he was a boy or not I used the male pronoun. Luckily, he is a he so it worked out.
Then began the afterbirth. I didn’t need to keep pushing to deliver the placenta. The doctor then started the repairs, so fun to think about right? I had one external tear, 2nd degree. I was told there are 4 degrees so a 2nd degree tear isn’t all that bad. Couple stitches and it was good. I also had an internal tear that was bleeding pretty heavily, doctor stitched that right up too. She even clipped the skin tags I’d developed during my pregnancy.
Meanwhile, baby was being cleaned up and placed back on my chest. Initially after delivery they’d put him on me and he’d peed on himself and me. The nurse picked him up to clean it off and he pooped in her hand. So he was busy getting cleaned off while they stiched me up.
They gave baby back, a nurse cleaned me up, and delivery was over. The epidural took another five hours to fully wear off, and then I was allowed to get up and be taught how to pee again.
That’s labor and delivery for me. It wasn’t stressful or cause for concern, nor did it last overly long.
I learned several things during labor and delivery:
1. Women who go all natural are superheros and f*cking insane. Both. At the same time.
2. Epidurals are the buisness
3. Babies come out looking pretty funky, and goopy.
4. The second he was on my chest I never wanted to put him down again.
5. It’s true what they say about falling so completely in love with someone. I love him so much, so much more than words.