Birthing Class Reunion

We’ve been invited to the next birthing class to discuss our birth experience and to answer questions from parents-to-be.  I have a lot to say, so I really want to organize my thoughts.  I don’t want to ramble and I don’t want to overwhelm, but I do want to be honest and direct.  I think it will be like the Oscars, they’ll cue the music and kick me off stage.

– False Labor about a week before due date.

– Real labor began evening of due date with contractions  – about 9pm.  We did a lot of walking around neighborhood while we decided if contractions were real.  I decided they were real when Ryan offered to make me something to eat and I felt to ill to eat.  Contractions were irregular but painful.  Ultimately the pain was what caused me to want to go to the hospital.  I was told when I wanted to pull the toilet out of the ground and throw it at my husband, it was time to go.

– About 2am, 5 hours after contractions started, we went to the hospital.  I was 2cm, so they did a non-stress test and thought about sending me home.  By the time the non-stress test was done, about 45 mins later, I had dilated 3 more cm to 5cm.  I was having back labor because the baby was “Sunny Side Up” so I was not really able to sit down or stand still, and the non-stress test was very uncomfortable because I had to sit down.  They decided to admit me because I had progressed so fast.  I threw up twice while waiting to be admitted.

– I contined to labor without medication, and spent about an hour in the tub.  This was a life savor for my back labor, it allowed me to be relaxed without putting any pressure on my back – I just floated there and breathed through contractions.  I felt like a champ.  At that point, about 8 hours into my labor, and at about 6cm, I decided I was ready for an epidural.  I had said I’d rather do it without, but was not opposed to the epidural. I did want to stay away from narcotics.  At that point, if you could have told me, it will get THIS bad for THIS long, then I probably could have taken it, but the fear of the unknown scared me and I went for the epidural.  Thry got us checked into a room about 6am and started the bag of fluids that you have to have before the epidural.

– 2 hours later, 11 hours into labor, I got the epidural.  It was very hard to hold still and sit during my contractions, but the nurse was amazing. I also threw up again while waiting for the epidural.  At 10am, 13 hours into labor and 8cm dilated, they broke my water.  I thought, awesome, it’s 10am, we’ll be done with this by lunch and I can eat.

– The epidural slowed down my dilation and I didn’t start pushing until 2pm, 15 hours into labor.  The epidural numbed my lower body completely and I could only wiggle my toes.  When they told me to push, I couldn’t even tell if I was pushing.  So they began turning the epidural down, and I think eventually off. 

– About an hour into pushing, they start Pitocin, to kick start contractions.  As the epidural wore off and the pitocin kicked in, things got intense and painful and I continued to push for 3 more hours.  Eventually I was able to move around to different birthing positions, with assistance.  Finally, after 4 hours of pushing, 22 hours into labor, they discussed suctioning her out.  From their discussions, it sounded like if this didn’t work, they would do a C-Section. The babies heart rate was low.  The doctor came in, they got the vacuum on her head, I pushed through a contraction.  I could feel everything and it was indeed the “ring of fire.”  They told me to stop, but she wasn’t out all the way, we had to wait for the next contraction.  I looked at every face in that room at that point and said, I can’t do this.  And every face said, YES YOU CAN.  And on the next contraction I did.  After that I couldn’t see straight I was so tired.

– Ultimately, I wanted to stay away from pain medication if I could, but I didn’t.  The birth was very painful, but I am very glad that they did end up turning the epidural way down.  I wanted her on my chest right away, but once she was out I was in such a daze, I didn’t notice they evaluated her really quickly. Ryan went right over to her, and got in her face and starting talking to her, she immediately settled down when she heard his voice and turned towards him.  He didn’t hesitate and picked her up and brought her to me.  We were not successful at breast feeding, so pumped collostrum in the hospital, and fed her through a tube going down Ryan’s finger.  We continued to pump and finger feed for 1 month.  Then, after we were able to get her tongue tie snipped, we continued to try to breast feed, and ultimately switched to pumping and bottle feeding.  Feeding has been a continious issue, and we’re still not where we wanted to be, but we’re doing what works for us.   I continue to pump 2x a day and we’re phasing in formula now that she’s 2 months old.  Luckily, she’s healthy and we’ve never had an issue with milk supply or with her weight gain.

My recovery was not something I gave much thought to.  I suggest bringing some Depends adult diapers to the hospital for the bleeding.  They are much more comfortable then the large pads and mesh underwear and will help keep the heating pads and ice packs in place.  I suggest having stool softener at your house for after the epidural.  Look into blood clots, and what it is like to pass one, because when I did, one week after the birth, I freaked out and thought I passed a human heart.  Read up on that gross stuff, like hemeroids, so you’ll know what to expect.  Take everything from the hospital, including the pads on the bed, you’ll want them on your bed at home.  Get paper plates and make and freeze a ton of food. Don’t be afraid to turn away visitors or say no.  Don’t let anyone come over without bringing food, even if it’s just a bag of chips.

I could never have imagined what having a baby would be like.  My advice to you would be to throw your expectations out the window.  They will all be rocked.  And motherhood is all about guilt, so you want to minimize that as much as possible.  Because of our feeding issues, I was very down.  I didn’t feel an immediate connection, because my husband was the one feeding her while I was pumping.  As soon as I verbalized this, I felt so much better.  I don’t think I had post partum depression, but the baby blues were pretty intense.  The first weeks just felt like maintenance.  We lived our lives in 3 hour blocks, and slept in 1.5 hour blocks. I wondered, why did we do this, we had such a good life and now we’ll never do X, Y, and Z again.  But we’ll get there. We’re already getting there.  Every week is easier.  They don’t even smile at you for the first 6 weeks!  Don’t expect anything, just go with the flow.  Tell your spouse what a great job they are doing.  Lift each other up.  Sleep when the baby sleeps, enjoy your time with her, don’t rush to get up and do dishes or laundry when she sleeps, not  in the beginning.  Enjoy them, and don’t wish the time away.  It’s cliche, but parenthood is by far the hardest and most rewarding job you’ll ever have.

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