Inside: Read about my positive birth story. I was induced at 41 weeks and gave birth with an epidural. We had a positive experience that we want to use to encourage moms who are feeling anxious about labor and delivery. While your story will be different, I hope this can ease your nerves while you wait to experience birth for the first time!
There is truly nothing like the final few weeks of pregnancy. My hips and back were on fire constantly, and my patience was out the window. I felt bloated, I couldn’t sleep, and I was emotionally exhausted. Above all, I just wanted to meet my baby!
I was due on September 16th, 2019, but the second I hit 37 weeks, the countdown was on. I was watching for all of the signs: losing my mucus plug, my water breaking dramatically at the grocery store, or that “bloody show” thing people talk about. As the days went on, nothing.
I had taken maternity leave starting the second week in September; honestly, if I could recommend anything, it’s taking a week or two before your due date so you can rest and nest without other responsibilities. If you can that is!
Also, I secretly hoped my baby would come a little early so I could expedite the process. Life, however, has a sense of humor.
Read: Things to Do While Waiting for Baby (my favorite is #8!)
At my 40 week appointment, my doctor and I decided to schedule an induction date for the following week (September 22nd) if little guy hadn’t come on his own by then. Gosh, it felt good to know that at max, I had only 7 days to go!
That didn’t mean I wasn’t still watching for the signs daily or keeping my hopes up that he would come sooner. One of the things I said from the beginning was that I was afraid to be induced. I’d heard horror stories about Pitocin, and how it’s often a more painful and intense labor. Plus, I secretly really wanted the experience of questioning “am I in labor?“, timing contractions, and taking the hurried drive to the hospital.
Wouldn’t you know, my son was cozy and happy as a clam staying the rest of the week. That Sunday evening, we double-checked with the hospital that they had rooms available for induction, and when given the all clear, we made our way in.
The rushed, contraction-filled ride I’d imagined turned into an excited yet calm cruise with my husband as we took our final car ride just the two of us. Once checked in and settled, the fun began!
When people ask me what the worst part of my labor was, I talk about the IV insertion. I’m serious. I’m not sure if my nurse was having a bad day or if I’m just a wimp, but I will forever have anxiety around IVs because of this moment. It didn’t help that we were waiting to eat dinner until we were settled in the room, so I was shaky hungry and full of anxiety about what was to come. The IV was the cherry on top.
Finally, I got to eat and we waited for the next step. We were anticipating a Foley-blub induction, but the doctor on call suggested we do Cytotec instead. This method involved a nurse coming every 4 hours to insert a small pill into my cervix to “ripen” it overnight. My last night of good sleep turned into a night full of check-ins.
After a night of heart-rate monitors slipping off of their spots and a few rounds of Cytotec, my OB came in to explain how the day would go. He was going to start Pitocin at 9 AM, and suggested I eat a light breakfast since I wouldn’t be allowed to eat once labor started.
About 30 minutes after the Pitocin began, my OB broke my water. I was 2.5 cm and mostly effaced. Labor was underway!
By this time, I could tell I was having consistent contractions. I can’t speak for how contractions feel without Pitocin, but I can say that they were moderately intense. People often describe them as intense period cramps: I’d agree. I labored unmedicated from 9:30-11:30 before I called it and asked for the epidural.
Now, I asked for the epidural before I really, really needed it. It took 45 minutes from that moment until my epidural arrived, so it can take a while. Keep that in mind! I didn’t want to get to my breaking point before I asked, so I will admit that while the contractions hurt, they weren’t totally unbearable.
Epidural & a Peanut Ball.
The anesthesiologist who did my epidural deserves an award. Once again, this was something I had a lot of fear and anxiety about. What if it didn’t work? Will it hurt really bad? What if he hits a nerve?
I chose to risk all of this because the fear of experiencing an unmedicated birth was worse.
It went about like this: the doctor told me to hunch over and not to move. He said I would feel a bee sting, some pressure, and to let him know if I felt anything more. It was about that fast. Bee sting – boom. Pressure – boom. Contraction – great distraction. It took all of 5 minutes max, and I was back in bed to let it kick in.
Praise the Lord, it did! I was told I had a good epidural because I could still move my lower body a little bit, but had absolutely no pain.
Our amazing nurse checked me (6 cm) and suggested I lie on my side with a peanut ball in between my legs (check out this study — they work!). She said she would come rotate me in a bit. My parents and in-laws came in to chat after my epidural kicked in, and it was at this point that I started shaking. I had heard this was normal, so I didn’t worry. Spoiler alert: I had gone into transition!
The nurse came in to check me around 2:30 PM, and we were shocked to hear that I was fully dilated! It was so fast. By 3 PM, I was doing practice pushes. I had started to feel very nauseated and have acid reflux, so the nurse gave me some medication that I promptly threw up. What can you do…
After 2 hours of practice pushing (that felt like 10 minutes), my OB came to finish out the job. After two more pushes, Finn was born at 5:18 PM. When the nurse put him on my chest, he immediately peed on me. Nearly 10 months of sharing my body with you, and that’s the first thing you do? A thank you would’ve been nice, but I naturally forgave him immediately.
While I got some skin-to-skin baby time, my OB spent about 30 minutes stitching me up. I won’t go into detail about this, but this takes the cake for the second worst thing about labor. Second degree tears are no fun! Luckily at this point, I couldn’t feel anything…yet.
Overall, as I look back on my birth, I am very grateful that it took the path it did. My biggest fear was pain, and I was only really in pain for about 2 hours. I didn’t have to spend time figuring out when to go to the hospital. And since my husband’s parents live out of state, they could plan to fly out that day.
Everything will happen as it happens, and while that might not always be “to plan,” you might just discover that the way it went was the best outcome. Or not. Either way, you have a story! Good luck to you, mama!
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