My due date was November 22, 2012. On the 15th we went in for a regular appointment and found that my urine protein level had drastically increased. I was showing a lot of swelling and had gained over 15 pounds in one week. YIKES! My doctor asked when I would like to be induced. I think her exact words were, “would tomorrow work for an induction.” I was shocked and completely caught off guard as I had, up until that moment, a very easy pregnancy. I had never thought of choosing our daughters birthdate. We decided on the 18th. Until then, I had to keep my feet elevated and relax. An impossibility for me.
November 18th arrived. I think we had to check in at 8am. The whole morning was surreal. From getting ready to driving to the hospital to walking though the birth center doors. Not experiencing a single contraction made the whole morning feel like a confusing dream. There was construction on our route. I had advised my husband weeks prior that when the day came it would be in his best interest to not drive through the construction. I just knew “his” route would be so irritating while in full contractions. That morning my husband avoided the construction which seemed, at that moment, a silly request.
We were welcomed in to the Birth Center and shown our room. I was given a gown which I quickly changed into as instructed. I remember waiting for what seemed an eternity for the doctor to arrive. I think an hour after we arrived they started by breaking my water. I was sure it was going to work. I remember bouncing away on a ball as if magically I was going to start contractions on my own. Ha! They let me bounce away for almost 3 hours before introducing Pitocin. They were very kind to entertain my request.
It was a gradual progression. I stayed calm and focused through the contractions. I could to hear the wise words of the birth instructor, “staying calm takes at least 3 hours off of the birthing process.” I do not know at what dosage it got “real” but after an increase they advised I try another position. I decided to lay over the ball on the bed. I quickly felt nauseous and vomited all over the bed. At this moment the woman birthing in the next room over starting screaming bloody murder. I remember thinking she had to be crazy. I asked if they would check to see at what number I was dilated. They did not think I was in enough pain to have progressed any since the last check. Begin panic mode. Based on my level of pain, the woman screaming next door, and the look on my husbands face, I opted for the epidural.
I think it took about 45 minutes for the anesthesiologist to arrive. I tried to block out the screaming lady and get back to a better mental place. Although it did not seem like it at the time, I really did maintain my breathing. I certainly was not adding 3 hours of whatever the lady next door was experiencing. Also, the idea that a massive needle was going to puncture through my spine gave me all the focus I necessary to stay as still & focused as possible. I remember the anesthesiologist saying to the nurses, “I think she’s going to have this baby immediately.” Those silly nurses laid me back and were shocked when they found I was fully dilated and ready to push. I guess I do not express my level of pain like everyone else.
The nurses called my doctor who was thankfully the doctor on duty. I remember the overwhelming desire to push. All I could think of was a terrible story I was told about a woman pushing too soon and tore herself to pieces. This was not happening to me! It probably was a whole 60 seconds before my doctor arrived but I fought off every desire to push for every single second. She walked in and said, “Emily, you’re going to get this baby out in ONE push,” I had lost my sense of humor at this point and am pretty sure I sent daggers through the air at her. I have to say, I took that pushing business very seriously and was praised for my pushing. Even with the epidural I could feel the contractions coming on. I was glad I could feel when to push and when to relax.
The nurses were amazing. I forgave them for not believing my pain level as they each held a leg and encouraged me though each push. My sweet husband had eyes the size of bowling balls & was on cold washcloth duty. He did great and after 45 minutes of me pushing he was poised with the camera to get the first shot of our perfect little Hazel at 6:35pm. I remember shaking equally with exhaustion and adrenaline as I held her. My husband called our parents and I feel like my parents arrived before he even hung up the phone. Everything became a bit of a blur at this point. Hazel was quickly taken from me and the nurses were working away on me. I was nervous that they had to take Hazel away and did not realize I was bleeding like crazy.
Hazel had hiccuped through the entire pushing process. I could feel and see every hiccup as she moved down the birth canal. The hiccups caused her to fill with fluid and she had to have all that gunk sucked out almost immediately. My husband was with her as the nurses were working on me. At this moment my parents walked in. I was totally surprised as we did not discuss at what point they would arrive. They could not control my bleeding and the doctor had to be called in. My parents looked completely terrified. Thankfully my Dad excused himself. My Mom stayed with me while they figured out that I was having clotting issues. No joke, my doctor had to reach her arm (that’s right ARM) up in me and sweep out the clots. I felt every single sweep of her hand. It was by far the worst pain of the day. But, it probably saved my life. After everything had calmed down my Dad got some shots of my husband holding Hazel for the first time. We all were thankful and in love.
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How did the difficulty level meet your expectations?
I had the pain / difficulty mixed up. I thought pushing would be the most difficult. For me the contractions were by far the most difficult physically & emotionally. Pushing was exhausting but not as difficult as I had anticipated.
What was the best thing you did to prepare?
1. Our birthing class / instructor was amazing from Memorial Hospital. She emphasized staying calm and focused on relaxation breathing.
2. I did very little reading to prepare as I felt it was just going to give me unnecessary fears. I still stand by my theory that too much info is just too much info.
What was your most effective form of pain control?
My breathing was very effective.
Would you do anything differently?
1. I would have been clearer with my parents on when to join us at the hospital. There was just too much newness & minor complications to have had them there immediately after delivering.
2. I also would have brought earplugs. I did not expect to hear every bit of another persons birth experience. It was just too much for me. I lost focus and it was very difficult to get back to a relaxed mental state.
Do you have any advice for pregnant moms?
1. Bring Depends or some other sort of adult diaper to use. The massive pads that you are given by the hospital are bulky and not ease to move in. An adult diaper will be far more comfy and move with you instead of moving when you are not. It’s only a few days that you need it but really made a difference for me.
2. Don’t get caught up in following every detail in your birth plan. There are so many variables that you can not control or predict. If something changes don’t feel like you’ve failed. Goal #1 should always be the safety of you and your child.