Good morning or is it afternoon? I have no idea. A lot of you asked for more details regarding my labor and delivery, and so here goes.
CD and I hoped for a natural child birth with little to no interventions. We hired an amazing doula, Mary Anne Richardson (HIGHLY recommended for any expectant mothers in the Nashville area. She’s also a registered nurse and a mid-wife). Together, we’d taken all natural child birthing classes, and I’d read several books on the subject. My body was made to birth a child, and I was confident it could and would. I can’t tell you how many times I told CD throughout my pregnancy, DO NOT let me get an epidural. Well, things didn’t go exactly as planned.
Last week when we went for our 38 week check-up, we had another ultrasound. We’d had one at our 36 week apt. as well since my stomach was measuring small, and my doctor wanted to make sure everything was okay in utero. At 36 weeks, everything looked fine, and we were told the baby was just small. Fast forward to 38 weeks, and my doctor walked into the examining room with my ultrasounds results in hand stating that we had to get the baby out. I froze and tried to hold back tears as it was really important to me to let the whole process happen naturally, but there was no way I would ever put my baby at risk. Summer was still measuring small, but my amniotic fluid was low as well. My doctor was afraid that the baby was suffering from IUGR, or intrauterine growth restriction. In other words, Summer was no longer growing properly, and we had no idea why – still don’t. So, our options were to check into the hospital that night (last Thursday) and take medicine that would ripen my cervix, sleep through the night, and then get labor started Friday morning by breaking my water and a Pitocin IV. Or, we could try ripening my cervix to see if I would go into labor on my own over the weekend and if not, go ahead and break my water and start the pitocin on Monday. My doctor knew how important a natural birth was to me and informed me that we could wait, but that I would need to monitor the baby’s kicks very closely over the next 48 to 72 hours. Our doula was there with us, and we discussed our options after the doctor left the room. I knew I would be a nervous wreck all weekend if we waited, and CD agreed. Our doula asked my doctor if she could try stripping my membranes to ripen my cervix naturally rather than putting me in the hospital that night. She agreed, and we then went home hoping I would go into labor on my own, but if not, we were due at the hospital at 7 AM on Friday morning.
We came home and tried to prepare ourselves – it was so weird knowing we would probably be parents in less than 24 hours…at least that’s what I was hoping for. I was scared to death of a really long labor, and was praying that Summer would be here by at least dinner time Friday night. My mom came over on Friday morning to stay with the dogs as we had no idea how long my labor would last (thanks again mom!), and Chris and I left for the hospital.
Me, CD, and the pups early Friday morning.
We met our doula at the hospital and were put in the room where Summer would be born. I was given IV fluids, the doctor broke my water, and the the nurse started the pitocin drip around 9 AM or so. For those of you that don’t know, pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin, the natural hormone produced by a woman’s body that causes uterine contractions. Because my body was not able to go into the labor process on its own, I never really got to ease into things. The contractions started around 9:30, and they were super intense and close together. CD, my doula, and my nurse, were all awesome. The nurse knew my strong desire for a natural birth, and snuck me popsicles. Hospital regulations usually don’t allow laboring women to eat just in case they end up in a C-section and therefore require anesthesia. However, she thought that was ridiculous and knew I needed fuel. Another reason I didn’t want drugs during labor is because I wanted to be able to move around. The administration of drugs meant an IV and constant monitoring of the baby’s heart rate and my blood pressure. Did you know that lying on your back is probably the worst position to be in for labor, especially when it comes time to push? In many cultures, women labor in a squatting position. Gravity helps push the baby down, and the position opens the pelvis as wide as possible. My doula helped me stay out of bed. She would hold the baby monitor to my stomach and take my blood pressure whenever the nurse needed a reading. I found the best position to be in during contractions was standing up with my hands resting on my lifted hospital bed. Every time another contraction hit, I would lean over the bed on my hands or arms and sway my hips back and forth. CD and Mary Anne were both so great. They stood right by me through every contraction reminding to me to relax and breathe. Dilation progressed quickly. I’m not quite sure of the numbers as I was too busy trying so hard to focus on staying relaxed. All I knew was that I needed to get to 10 cm.
After about 2 hours, the contractions were unbearable, and I started to get scared. In my mind I kept thinking I cannot do this for hours more and then push for another couple of hours. I could no longer relax and breathe as planned during contractions. I finally asked for an epidural. CD reminded me (in a very loving way) why I didn’t want one, and my doula kept asking if I could just go one for 1 more hour as she knew I was getting super close to pushing. I thought about it – I seriously did. I remembered all the reading I had done on the topic: an epidural could relax the body so much that labor could come to halt, and the doctor would then have to do a c-section to get the baby out, my body would not release all the natural hormones that it normally would during labor if I was drugged, the epidural could cause the baby to be a bit out of it immediately after birth making breast feeding difficult, etc. I knew all the facts, but I could not take anymore. I agreed to an hour more and then changed my mind. My doula then asked me to go one for another 15 minutes, but I just couldn’t. My nurse knew I wasn’t going to give up and called in the nurse anesthetist to administer the epidural. I remember that I kept apologizing to Chris, but he just held my hand and kept telling me it was all okay and that I was doing what was best for me. Once the epidural took effect, the contractions just felt like a slight pressure on my rectum. The nurse went to insert a catheter, and the doctor came to check me. Turns out by that point I was fully dilated. So, they told me to try and rest up for 30 minutes as pushing for a first-time mom can last 2 to 3 hours. So, I tried to sleep for a bit, and then the nurse told me it was time to push. Because of the epidural, I had to labor on my back, and Chris and Mary Anne each held a leg as I pushed. It only took about 3 or 4 pushes to get Summer out – maybe 5 or 10 minutes, and I actually had to stop pushing as the doctor wasn’t even in the room yet. Summer’s head was already out, and I remember the nurse joking about her full head of hair, saying that she was going to French braid it while we waited for the doctor to arrive. It was wild. Once the doctor arrived, I pushed once more, and at 1:28 PM, Summer was here.
Part of my birth plan was that the baby be placed immediately on my chest as soon as she arrived. The doctor placed her there, and the nurses cleaned her while she lay on me.
I then delivered the placenta – did you know you actually deliver it after the baby? I didn’t until I took child birthing classes. I didn’t feel it as I was still numb from the epidural, but I hear it’s usually not too painful. I also tore during the delivery and had to get 5 stitches. Again, didn’t feel a thing, but trust me, I feel them now! We wanted to wait to cut the cord until the placenta stopped pulsating to ensure that Summer received every last bit of nutrient it had to offer. CD cut the cord with a shaking hand. So sweet.
Chris was amazing throughout my entire labor as were my doula and nurse. My doctor was great as well, although I didn’t see much of her. We asked for a no-separation policy, and so Summer never left our side during the entire stay at the hospital. She had her first bath in our room as well as all of her tests. Our pediatrician agreed to examine her in our room as well rather than in the nursery. We opted not to have the erythromycin ointment placed in her eyes. This is standard treatment to prevent conjunctivitis in the baby’s eyes should the mother have an STD. Yep, no STD’s for me, and we decided to avoid the use of what we thought to be an unnecessary antibiotic. Besides, it can blur the baby’s vision up to 24 hours, and I wanted Summer to be able to see us as clearly as possible.
My parents and brother stopped by after we’d had a little time to bond with Summer…
Grampy Mac and uncle Scott meet Summer
Those first 24 hours were surreal. I couldn’t believe this precious little baby was really ours. When we got down to our permanent room, our nurse introduced herself and then left CD and I alone with Summer. We both kind looked at each other and thought, Okay, now what? Summer mostly slept through her first 2 days of life but is now spending more and more time awake. She has her days and nights confused and is up a lot of the night but sleeps really hard during the day. We’re going to have to work on that, but for now, we’re just going with the flow.
I know this is a food blog, and so let me share with you how bad the hospital food was. I have only good things to say about the whole hospital experience…except for the food. Blech! Dinner that first night consisted of spaghetti noodles with sauce, French bread, margarine, and an iceberg lettuce salad. Um, no thanks! We only live about 2 miles from the hospital, and so CD graciously went home, made a delicious dinner + plus breakfast and lunch for the next day and brought it all back in a cooler. Unfortunately, he missed his daughter’s first fart, but I called to let him know it had happened.
That’s it for now. Do I feel disappointed that my labor didn’t go as planned? Nope, not at all as I have my precious little girl sitting right here beside me as I type this, and I have no regrets when it comes to getting the epidural as I know it helped me relax and proceed with labor. Would I do it again? Well, it depends. If my body were allowed to go into labor naturally, things might have been different. So, if there is a HEABlet #2, we shall see.
We’re still working really hard on nursing, and I’m either breast feeding or pumping every 2 hours. It’s a lot, but I know it will be so worth it in the end. Again, I hope to continue posting, but I’ve had nearly no time to check email. I promise to get back to it someday, but for now, it’s not a priority. Thanks for all your support and love – it’s been amazing!