So while I’m on the topic of pregnancy, I’d like to discuss my latest feeling on the actual process of delivering a baby (“getting it out of you,” as referenced in the title of this post.)
When preparing for the birth of my first daughter, I did a good bit of research. I read birth stories online and several books about childbirth written by celebrities and a few by experts. I made a birth plan and took it in to my doctor, and went over everything. I knew all about mucus plugs, bag of waters, contractions, C-sections, epidurals, rooming in, latching on, episiotomies, apgars and the football hold*. I was totally prepared….or so I thought.
*On a side note, I have learned, through extensive time on online mommy communicates, that if you are currently pregnant and you don’t know what one of these terms means, then you are doomed to be a horrible mother. You are obviously not at all prepared to bring a life into the world, because everyone knows that nothing can be done correctly until you’ve read at least three books on the subject, aced at least two related vocab quizzes, and memorized every acronym and abbreviation associated with the subject.
So anyway, I’m in my third trimester, and I think I’ve got everything pretty well under control. Then one day I go to the bathroom, and it looks like I’ve peed on myself. I remember my exact thought process…”Funny, I don’t remember peeing on myself…did I sneeze today?…I had to have peed myself…how else would…OH MY GOD I MUST BE LEAKING AMNIOTIC FLUID!!!” Turns out I really had just peed myself and not known that it happened. Yep…so prepared.
After reading countless articles and first-hand accounts of amniotic fluid leaking and water breaking, I still had no idea what it was actually going to feel like. Everyone was like “you’ll know” when this or this happens, but you really don’t, if you’ve never had it happen before. Everything that happens to your body feels new and weird and unusual, so it gets difficult, after 6 months of these new and strange feelings, to determine what new and strange feeling is important/dangerous/urgent and what isn’t. And if nothing important/dangerous/urgent happens, you’re going to be more freaked out because you’re constantly waiting and wondering if this new and strange thing is urgent enough to call your doctor or go to the hospital or if you should just sit down, eat some more ice cream and watch another Baby Story or Birth Day on TV.
Usually, the answer is ice cream.
Well, for several weeks prior to my due date, I keep getting these weird hardening feelings in my stomach. These are called Braxton Hicks contractions, for anyone who didn’t ace the vocab. It literally felt like my entire stomach became rock hard, and I would feel some pressure in my nether regions (almost like when you need to take a poo…yeah yeah, kind of tmi, but that’s the best comparison). So, these contractions never hurt…they were just pretty uncomfortable. They would often come at regular intervals, and even got a little more regular a few times, but they always tapered off on their own about the time I decided to call someone or wake up my husband. These BH contractions, also known as pre-labor or false labor, got me from 2cm dilated and 75% effaced at my 37 week appointment to 7cm dilated and 90% effaced the morning of my due date. Yes, 7cm and 90% effaced is where I was when I walked into the hospital for my induction on the morning of my due date. My body was about to go into what they call transitional labor, which is the home stretch, and usually the worst part. Some women will have their water break and get to the hospital and they’re only 3cm dilated, and they’re already groaning like a wildebeast from the pain, and they still have ten hours to go before they’re even close to fully dilated. I didn’t realize at the time how awesome it was that I was 7cm. I wish I did.
At my 39 week appointment on the previous Thursday, I was 5cm dilated and 80% effaced, and they said that since I was so dilated, there was a high risk of infection, so they wanted to induce me on Monday morning if I did not go into labor over the weekend. I didn’t really want to be induced, but infection sounded bad, so I was fine with the plan. Honestly, I was also pretty tired of being pregnant. It was May and starting to get hot, and I was just so uncomfortable and impatient.
But I got to the hospital, and I was almost there. I thought about being like “Hey! Wait a minute! I’m in labor…can we just hang out for a while and see where it goes? I kind of like this no pain thing I’ve had so far, and I’m not sure I’m ready to give that up.” Of course, I didn’t say anything. I am the first person to drive back through a drive thru to tell the people at McDonald’s that they got my order wrong, or that the tea tastes sour or whatever, but when it comes to questioning a doctor, I have absolutely no balls.
So, they broke my water and gave me pitocin. I had apparently forgotten to check up on all the induction methods while doing my research, because I had no idea what that pitocin would do. It basically makes your contractions really strong, and makes them come one on top of the other, and it works very quickly. So, your body has been not really having contractions, and then it all-of-a-sudden goes into full out labor within an hour. It was seriously the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. It was completely unbearable pain, especially when they started coming right on top of each other. To me, it was like the worst menstrual cramp you’ve ever had, plus gas pain, heart burn, and that horrible tingly feeling when your foot goes to sleep…all that together, times a hundred. No no…times a thousand. You get the idea.
Before the pitocin, I was 7cm and 90% effaced….almost there, with some moderate discomfort. After, I was literally trying to crawl backwards up the bed and wall behind me to get away from the pain. I could not take it, and I got the epidural. The epidural was actually done exactly like it should be…no pain in the lower half of my body, but I could still feel a little, and I could tell when I had contractions. I felt the pressure of them, but not the pain. About 45 minutes after the epidural, I was 9cm dilated. Thirty minutes later, I was ready, and after 15 minutes of pushing, I has my little girl. I didn’t feel any pain during the birth, but I could feel it when they started stitching me up, and let me tell you…that hurt even with the epidural.
All in all, it was pretty awesome. I was only in the hospital about 5 hours total, and it wasn’t even 4 hours from the time they broke my water and started the pitocin to the time she was born. The drugs they gave me with the epidural were fantastic, and literally made me feel about as happy and giggly as I could ever imagine being. The pushing went well, and I felt pretty good after I got her out. We had about an hour with her in the room before they took her for a bath and took me to my recovery room, and I was on the phone calling friends shortly after that. So really, I never felt too freaked out, and I felt like everything went great.
But ever since then, I’ve had this nagging feeling…7cm and 90% effaced? I just feel like I could have done it without the induction. I think my body would have been able to do the rest of the dilating pretty well on its own, since it got like three quarters of the way there without any real pain or complications. I felt like the induction was unnecessary. I heard the word “infection” and just stopped asking questions. While everything went fine, and I am so thankful to have had such a wonderful first experience with childbirth, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that my body could have done it if I had just spoken up and trusted that I could do it.
So, that’s how I’ve come to the decision that I want to be more active in this pregnancy. I want to feel more in control of how the birth actually happens, and I want to give my body a chance to see if it can do what its supposed to do. I mean, I’ve had these “birthin’ hips” all my life, and if that’s not a body built for birthin’ than I don’t know what is. I want to have the balls to speak up and ask what “risk of infection” actually means if it comes up, and what else can be done about it besides forcing the baby out when it might not be ready to come out.
How am I going to prepare? Stay tuned to find out…