When I was going through nursing school I had to do a rotation on the labor and delivery floor. I already knew that labor and delivery was not going to be my specialty, but it was required. Growing up my mom always talked about how beautiful childbirth was, and how you just forget all the pain once your baby is in your arms. I never believed her. I believed her even less after I witnessed my first live birth. In fact, I called her on the way home and told her thank you for lying to me my whole life. She laughed and gave me the typical mom response of, “just wait until it is your own birth, and your own baby.”
A few weeks before our son was born I wrote up a birth plan. For me, it was mainly for guidance and not something that I felt had to be stuck to 100% or I would feel devastation. I think being a nurse helped me to know that things usually do not go as planned and to a certain degree you have to be able to go with the flow. Our main priority was to keep baby safe, and to keep me safe. I was going to try to have an unmedicated childbirth, if possible. My reasoning for this was simple: I was scared that I would have crazy anxiety if I could not feel my legs. Anxiety can happen pretty easily for me and the thought of not being able to feel my legs during a situation where I was already pretty out of control made me think it would probably be better to skip the epidural if possible.
The doctors appointment before I went into labor I was three centimeters dilated, and almost completely effaced. My doctor did perform a membrane sweep at that appointment to try and help things along. The membrane sweep was not particularly painful, but it was very uncomfortable and I did have some minor spotting afterwards. The doctor told me he would not be surprised if I went into labor that night. Well, it was another five days before labor started.
I woke up on December 19th, around 7 am, with light contractions. I laid in bed for a while just to see if they were going to pick up, or simmer out. They continued to be regular, but were not painful to me. As the morning progressed they began to get closer together, but were still bearable. I decided to go ahead and take a shower and get ready. I had a feeling in my gut that this was the day we were going to meet our baby.
We drove to the hospital later that morning to be checked out and see if it was baby day. When we arrived I was only up to about 4 cm dilated, but they wanted me to walk around the labor and delivery floor for a while to see if I progressed.
After about a hour of walking the doctor decided to check me again and I had progressed to six centimeters. This meant it was baby day, and I was officially being checked into the hospital. They had me continue walking because I had expressed that I wanted to stay on my feet as much as possible since I was trying to do things without medication. My doctor and nurses were so kind, and they encouraged me every step of the way.
After about another hour my doctor asked me if I would like him to break my water. I know this is controversial for some people, but I was completely okay with it. I knew that once he did it my contractions would probably hit a new level, and that was definitely true. Almost immediately my contractions moved to my back. I never felt pain in my abdominal area again, it was all concentrated in my lower back. I knew this was back labor, and I knew it was going to suck. My sweet nurse had me get on all fours to try and relieve some of the pressure, and showed my husband where he could put pressure on my back to help. It seemed like I would no more get through one contraction and the next one was beginning. I began to get very nauseas, and very hot. I was flooded with the emotion that I could not do this anymore, that I could not take the pain anymore. The doctor decided to check me at that point and I was completely dilated.
They prepared everything for me to begin pushing, and that’s when things got rough. I was not one of those women who pushed two times and shot a baby out. I pushed for two hours. Two hours. Still no baby. They found that baby was sunny side up, or posterior if you want to use real medical lingo, and that explained the 100% back labor. The doctor had me stop pushing and came to talk to me. He then suggested that I get an epidural so that I could rest a little bit, and because he knew he was probably going to have to use a vacuum to help my sons head out. At this point I was not fearful of not being able to feel my legs. I knew I needed a little break to be able to birth this baby.
Once they gave me the epidural they gave me about twenty minutes to rest. I say to this day that that was the best twenty minute nap I have ever had. It was just like my entire body relaxed all at once. It’s hard to describe, but it was amazing. I could indeed still feel my legs, but it took the edge off of the contractions and pressure. After twenty minutes we resumed pushing. I could still feel enough to know when I was having a contraction so the doctor just let me push when I felt one coming. It took another hour, and vacuum assistance, but after almost exactly 12 hours of labor our son was born.
The doctor estimated him to be low 7 pounds before I started to push, but he ended up being 9 pounds 2 ounces 21 inches long. Not surprisingly, after all the difficulty delivering his head, he had a HUGE head…still does :).
I had many lacerations, and bad tearing, so it took about another almost two hours for the doctor to stitch me up. All in all I had to have about 100 internal stitches. I did not realize at the time how bad that was, but when I learned that they were calling me the “massive repair” in room 3 I sort of understood.
Here comes the cliche part that would make my mom so proud: it was beautiful, and it was all worth it to have that baby in my arms. I have not forgotten the pain though, and when my son becomes an a-hole teenager I will be sure to remind him all I went through to bring him into the world.
I always say that my recovery after his birth was much worse than his birth itself was. I went home with 100 stitches and a donut shaped pillow with no idea how long recovery was actually going to take. I will write about that in another blog post.
Did you have anything unexpected happen while you were in childbirth? Did you have a birth plan or did you decide to just go with the flow?
Thanks for reading!