Here’s Part II of my reflections on my childbirth experiences. You can check out Part I here.
While giving birth to Maggie seemed to be an absolutely endless process of pain and waiting and more pain, Lily’s birth couldn’t be more opposite. My greatest desire was for this labor to be as peaceful as possible and it was pretty close to perfect.
I started having contractions around four in the afternoon on May 19th. I had spent the day running errands, playing with Maggie outside, and doing housework. Vin’s parents picked Maggie and me up to go out for dinner around 5:30 and we had a lovely meal at a cute restaurant. Even though I was fairly certain that I was in the early stages of labor, I was also fighting a very Texan craving for some spicy food. So, naturally, I ordered the “Ole Burger” for dinner. It was a huuuuuge burger with pepper jack, topped with onion rings, chipotle mayo, and, best of all, pickled jalapenos. It was soooo good!
I mention this burger because it ranks right up there with some of the dumbest food decisions I’ve ever made. I just couldn’t stop myself. The “Ole Burger” called my name and there was no turning back. It was very similar to the time my brother ordered the “Blowout Burger,” or the other time he ordered the “Big Nasty.” We all knew no good could come of it, but sometimes you just can’t tear yourself away. And apparently the ability to resist terribly named menu items is not a skill possessed by either me or my brother. Suffice it to say that the “Ole Burger” will, like a bad, bad penny, keep turning up.
So, after I shamelessly destroyed the “Ole Burger,” we went home. Vin’s parents decided to hang out for a while until he got home from work which gave me the opportunity to take a nice hot shower and shave my legs, which I’m sure the medical staff greatly appreciated. The shower was a perfect comfort measure for me. I truly believe that going into labor is one of the most natural things a woman’s body is designed to do and therefore takes us back to our most basic nature. It only stands to reason that darkness and privacy are just what our animal nature needs to prepare to bring a baby into the world. It reduces stress, which can slow down the labor process, and relaxes the mind, body and soul.
After my shower, I felt very peaceful and continued timing contractions, which varied from about eight to five minutes apart. It was about 8:30 or 9 at that point so I went ahead and called Vin at work to let him know it might be a good idea to get home as fast as he could once his shift was over.
I basically spent the next two hours chatting with my family, watching TV with Maggie, rounding up bags, and swiveling my hips through contractions. I looked pretty hot doing my “dance moves”, I’m not gonna lie. But, whatever works, right?
I was kind of in awe that my body was actually doing what it was supposed to do so easily. Since Maggie was induced, I definitely had some nerves and anxiety throughout my pregnancy about how I would know when I was really going into labor. However, I was coached for months and months by Vin and my friend, Kate, a doula in training, to trust my body to do what it was designed to do so I adopted a lot of faith in my body and its ability. It was so refreshing and delightful to experience the natural onset of labor and I just kept thinking, “My body’s doing it! I’m really doing it!!”
When Vin got home from work a little after ten, my contractions were anywhere from three to five minutes apart and getting stronger. Vin changed clothes, we gathered up our loot, kissed Mags goodbye (since we couldn’t get her to stay in bed) and hopped in the truck to go to the hospital.
By 10:45 or 11 we were checked in and I was hooked up to the monitors to make sure this was the real deal. The house doctor checked me out and, much to my joy and surprise, I was already dilated to 5 – almost 6 – centimeters! Lily was doing great and, not only did we get to hear that precious heartbeat, but she had a ridiculous case of the hiccups that literally sounded like she was trying to sledgehammer her way out of my belly.
Soon after that we were shown to our room and the real fun began! Vin’s mom and dad were there for a while, which was nice while it lasted, but soon and very soon the “Ole Burger” began to take its revenge. It seemed like such a very good idea at the time…but, alas, if you’re a gal like me, the transition period (going from about 7 to 10 cm’s) means that vomiting is in your future. And for me, it most certainly was. I threw up while in labor with Maggie and, sure enough, the “Ole Burger” exacted its revenge about three times during Lily’s labor. Definitely not as good the second and third times around, I can assure you.
Shortly after I began puking my guts out I asked my in-laws to go wait in the waiting room. I don’t know if I’m super-private about this sort of thing, but I feel very strongly about it just being me and my husband in the delivery room. Personal preference, I guess, but I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those women who delivers babies with a ginormous audience of family and friends. The medical staff is enough for me! Also, I think it’s easier to focus and concentrate without having too many people around.
The only other person besides Vin who was with me the entire time was our nurse, whose name was Luda. You know, like Ludacris, only more eastern European and less thug. But basically the same. Luda was a complete rock star. She was incredibly encouraging. When I told her I wanted to do everything naturally she was immediately on board and never once did she pressure me to get an epidural or pain meds. She was pretty much the best nurse of all time. She stayed with us the entire time, mainly because Lily was so low that the only way we could get a consistent heart beat was if Luda held the monitor in place, readjusting it as needed.
Let me take a moment to tell you how much I detest those monitors. I know it’s important to get a good read on the baby’s heart rate and keep track of the contractions, but, Lordy be, those things are SO frustrating. I had hoped to be able to use a birthing ball and/or walk around during this labor, but since I was hooked up to an IV and both monitors, one of which was finicky, it was pretty much impossible for me to move around the way I’d like to. I spent the majority of the time on the bed, but it was nice to be able to adjust the bed how I liked it and move around a bit there. Still, though, I’m not 100% sold on the fact that the monitors are really, really, absolutely necessary. Again, I get the point, but they seriously get in the way and cramp my style. But, I digress…
Unlike Pitocin induced contractions, which are non-stop pain, natural contractions are, in my humble opinion, a total breeze. This is not to say that natural contractions are completely painless, but there’s a definite beginning and end to each one which makes the whole thing a lot more doable. I also thought that the contractions were a lot less painful. Vin, Luda, and I all talked and joked throughout the majority of the labor, which was really fun. Vin and I both agreed later that we kept waiting for it to get really, really bad, but it just never happened.
In my usual luck our OB was off the weekend that Lily decided to be born, so the doctor that delivered her was a mystery man from our OB’s practice whom we had never met. By the time we were ready to push and things were getting really serious, I had reverted to keeping a cloth over my eyes so I didn’t actually see the doctor when he came into the room. Imagine my surprise when I looked up at one point and saw that he looked like the cheap Halloween costume version of this man:
This doctor seriously had long, curly, poorly highlighted hair and had the personality of Gilderoy Lockhart. I need you to know that I almost laughed out loud when I saw him. Also, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt closer to my husband than when we both brought up the resemblance as soon as we had a second alone…as if it were the most important aspect of the whole night. Oh, how we love us some Harry Potter.
So anyway, once Lockhart finally got there, he pretty much took one look at me and told me to start pushing. Now, I’m not going to lie, the pain got pretty intense once it was time to push. I also cannot deny that I did drop another f-bomb during the process. Apparently I cuss when I’m in labor…what are you gonna do? Luckily for me, though, we only pushed through three contractions and perfect little Lily was born at 2:15 am! Yes, you read that right…we went from checking in around 11 pm to having a new baby at 2:15. Super-fast and super-awesome!
Lily was immediately put on top of me after she was born, the hospital’s version of kangaroo care. I requested that we have immediate skin-to-skin contact, and was assured that it was standard procedure, but we didn’t get as much time as I’d have liked. I think this is a classic example of both sides assuming that they’re on the same page. In the future I think I’ll be far more specific so that we get exactly what we want out of the situation.
The only other complaint I have about this birth experience is regarding the IV. I was told by my OB that everyone gets an IV when they’re admitted so that if anything goes wrong they don’t have to rush to get one put in. Sounds completely logical to me. Granted, I had to have antibiotics anyway because I tested positive for Strep B, but I still get annoyed with IV’s because they get in the way in the same way the monitors do. Anyway, I totally understand the preventative uses for giving everyone an IV upon admission. However, I found it highly ironic that, after having a serious amount of blood loss after delivery which required medication to control, the IV stopped working. Luda actually had to give me the meds through regular shots in order to stop the bleeding. Obviously, I understand that things malfunction and that those things can’t be controlled all the time. It’s just really ironic, that’s all.
I can honestly say that I’ve never felt so empowered than after delivering naturally. It was something that I’ve always wanted to do and I was so grateful and proud that we had actually done it. I’ve also never felt closer to my husband. I can’t say enough how wonderful it was to have Vin by my side. Unlike, Maggie’s labor, in which I didn’t want to be touched at all, during this labor I couldn’t get enough. I basically wanted the affirmation that Vin was with me. He rubbed my back like a champ and I couldn’t imagine a better companion. I really feel like we got to be a team this time around; Vin got to take an active role as coach during this labor and he was absolutely amazing. Gosh, I love that man.
So, basically, delivering without drugs was really, really excellent. In my humble opinion, given my druthers, I’d much rather do things naturally. Stay tuned for a few more of my thoughts on the subject and a guest post by the hubz…and then we’ll stop beating a dead horse, I promise!