Breastfeeding Project: Epidural birth after natural birth

Epidural Birth Cord Mama

From the beginning of this pregnancy I decided to have a home birth this time instead of a birth center birth.  

Around 32 weeks I was in the hospital for dehydration due to a little stomach bug that had been going around town that almost put me into pre term labor to add to the list of not too complicated complications I'd had this pregnancy.  I went to the labor and delivery room where they helped stop contractions that could have led to a premature birth.  It was interesting to be there.  I didn't find the hospital to be too scary, and even a little nice.  I didn't like all the monitors they had on me the whole time, and thought, I sure am glad I don't have to do birth this way.  But it was nice to see how the nurses were so hip with natural child birth and breastfeeding, and they were not as cold as the ones you see on "The Business of Being Born." 

When I followed up that hospital visit with my midwife, she noticed I had extreme itching in my palms and feet.  I told her how it has been keeping me up till 4am.  She said this is often a sign of cholestasis of pregnancy.  She sent me to get lab work and sure enough, thats what it was - I would need to be induced between 37-39 weeks. Because of the need of medical intervention, I risked out of a home birth and would be giving birth in the hospital.  I wasn't too bummed out about this.  With such a rough pregnancy, I was just ready to not be pregnant and just enjoy holding a baby in my arms.  Also with that little practice round at 32 weeks, I wasn't as afraid of the hospital environment.  I had a really great doctor caring for me, so I decided to go to him. 

After a couple weeks of making sure baby was still healthy, the doctor said it was time to set an induction date as to not risk anything.  I can't tell you how relieved I was.  No more sleepless nights rubbing my itchy feet on the carpet.  Hope of a normal bowel movement in the near future.  And best of all, holding a healthy sweet baby.

I hobbled my way into a large L&D room and filled out tons of paper work and legal documents.  After an hour or two the doctor came in to get me started on pitocin and break my waters.  Breaking my water didn't hurt a bit like I thought it might.  It wasn't until much later  (maybe an hour later) I even felt the rush of water come out.  I thought I was uncontrollably peeing in my pants!  But the nurse assured me it was my water.

I found it a also surprising how long it took for the pitocin to kick in. They started it at 7:30  and at 11:00, Chris and I were bored enough to watch the most recent SNL online.  But, by about 11:30, I started having contractions 5 minutes apart.

The terrible thing about the contractions was that I found it difficult to manage the pain.  I had two monitors strapped to my belly to check on baby and an IV in my arm pumping pitocin... Or was it fluids?  I think it was still pitocin.  So moving around to get in good labor positions was way more difficult than when I labored at home on a birthing ball or in a pool or on a stool at the birthing center. 

So after a while the nurse asked me if I'd like her to check my progress.  My first instinct was to go with the natural child birth community's belief system, "no, don't check right now, I don't want to be discouraged if I'm not progressing much."  But the nurse said, "well if we check you and you are far enough along we can do an epidural if you want one."  To which I said, "okay let's check."

I was 4 cm and she said that was far enough along to get one.  She knew my natural childbirth past and also knew my willingness to do things differently and gently asked me if it was something I'd like to do.  I said yes but didn't feel sure of myself.  "Chris will you be disappointed in me if I do?"  He said something to the effect of he would do it in a heartbeat if it were him.  So, I gave the "ok" and the anesthesiologist was there quickly.

I really wanted to wear my own clothes, nothing special just an old maternity skirt on its last leg anyway, and a tank top over a camisole.  I hate how hospital gowns fall off so easily and show off your bare bottom when you walk around. Plus, the staff there really underestimate how good I am at laundry- every stain is out and I've even worn the outfit since.

Anyway, while wearing my cute casual and comfortable outfit, he put the needle in my back.  My feet became numb and my legs unable to move, but 30 min later, I still felt the painful contractions.  The nurse was concerned that I could still feel it - but I knew so little about epidurals, I thought they just took the edge off the pain.  But the nurse said I shouldn't feel anything and asked if I'd like him to come give me a another one.  I asked her what she would do, and, without hesitation she said, "get another one."

So he came back and did it again.  This time it took.  I had zero control over my legs or bottom.  All moving had to be done for me.  I never had that numb sensation before.  Even when they checked my cervix, I felt nothing.  Had I not watched them do it I wouldn't have know they were!

I laid on my side with a ball between my knees and my husband, nurse, and doula, just chatted it up while I felt like I was no longer in labor.  I have no idea how long that went on for.  It seemed to go by fast, maybe an hour.  The nurse kept an eye on the monitor to see how my contractions were coming along.  It cracked me up that she knew and I didn't.  You would think the drugs effected my brain I was so light feeling. 

When they were getting very close together she said she wanted to see how far along I was.  She just looked with her eyes, eyes that got really big as she said, "oh there is the baby's head.  Let's call the doctor." She had me push one little time before he got there.  Not sure why she did, but the doctor was there quickly with a big smile on his face; I think he loves delivering babies.

He suited up, sat down and asked me to give a push.  The nurse told me how to breath and then push, and I did.  Such an odd thing to push with your abs and feel nothing you are pushing out.  But I laughed. Chris and I posed for a quick picture between pushes with huge smiles and excitement.  "Okay one more push, sweetie," said my doctor.  He's older than my dad, so he can call me sweetie.  One more push?! I laugh again and make a silly face with my tongue curled up over my lip as I push again. With that push I look between my legs and see the baby roll out like a ball and the first body part I see makes Chris and I say together, "it's a girl!"  I felt emotional, but in a very happy and excited way.

The "plan" from there was to have her placed on me before cutting the cord just as I did with Adelaide and let the cord finish pulsing.  But for some reason the cord was too short so the doctor just had to hold her for a little while, cleaning her up and getting all the afterbirth out of her nose and mouth. She cried and screamed so much!  I loved it!  

Chris cut the cord and then I held her in my arms.  I loved that she was in my arms now.

The doctor said I had a very minimal laceration, and sewed it up easily.  Of course I didn't feel a thing.  In fact I don't even recall pushing out the placenta.  I do recall him asking if we wanted it and Chris and I saying in unison "no" very quickly and then back to admiring our baby girl.

I was breastfeeding with no problems within 15 min of delivery, before they even took her weight and other measurements.  (I was surprised at this because I always heard they do all that and even bath the baby before letting you breastfeed- a pleasant surprise.)

In a little bit they took her with Chris to get a bath, and I was in the room without baby or husband.  I would have been completely alone if I didn't have my doula.  That was different for sure.  It was a month before I was that separated from Adelaide.

Adelaide seeing Narrah for the first time. Wish I could have been there for that.

My doula and I just talked about the extreme differences between the two births and how I'm glad I did my beautiful natural birth before I did my beautiful epidural birth. :). I think I really needed the birth I had with Adelaide  and I really needed the birth I had with Narrah.

I couldn't get up for about two hours after birth.  Usually it takes about an hour to wear off they say, but I guess because I had two epidurals it took twice as long.  But it wasn't so bad.  I realize that with my natural birth I couldn't walk for closer to three hours because I was so faint- yeah I literally fainted the first time I got up with my first birth.   But when I did get up this time, it wasn't difficult at all.  I didn't have to waddle or have someone hold me up the whole way.  I just walked to the bathroom, peed easily and went back to bed.

That night was a little rough.  Someone was in our room almost every hour.  Every two hours someone would check on me and every other two hours they would check Narrah.  I didn't get a wink of sleep.
The next day was crazy too.  I can't believe how many people were in and out of the room with this test or that.  Lactation consultant, social worker, administration, nurses, hospital photo people, pediatrician, birth certificate people, and I don't know who else just in and out all day without a break.  I thought I might like the hospital stay thinking it would be as relaxing as the birthing center but I was very wrong.

My OBGYN came in and told me I did great the day before, and he praised my  "birth notes" telling me I should publish them on the internet for all to see (okay I will do that in my next blog post).  Then he said, "hey do you want to just go home today? You know what you are doing, you look great, I see no reason to keep you here."  We were happy to go home with hope of getting some sleep finally.

I guess Dr. Polon took all the nurses in the place off guard cause they were pretty upset with us leaving a day early.  We got pretty rude treatment from most everyone on staff from that point on.  We are still not exactly sure why- leaving early was the doctor's idea, not ours.  I suppose they had to try to do everything they usually do in two days in just one day.  But they did it and we were out of there by 7:00 and we were happy about that.

A few have already asked, and I'm sure more will ask- which did you like better?  I don't know.  A natural drug free child birth gives you lots of street cred.  But having an epidural and a very easy labor helped me recover in just one week rather than my natural childbirth that was so rough it took 4 weeks to recover.
On the other hand, was this one easier because my 10 pound baby made it easier for my almost 9 pound baby to come out?  If I did a hospital birth the first time, would I have had to get a C-section?

You have a 1 in 3 chance of getting a C-section just by having a hospital birth in America.  My doctor said that being induced increases that chance.  Some say (though I'm not positive if it's true) and epidural even further increases the chance.  This might be why two different nurses said "well I'm glad you were able to have a vaginal birth," as if they were surprised by it.

Maybe I was just lucky.  I really just don't know.  I just know I'm glad I did it in this order because I loved my experience of becoming a mother when I had Adelaide but also 'cause I'm thinkin' once you go epidural you can't go back!  Well- maybe some people can, but I wouldn't