LABOR Day! (a birth story)

This year I got two Labor Days in one week! Little Champ was born on Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 12:33 pm. He was 6 lbs, 11 oz, and is 18.5 inches long. He is absolutely perfect.

Short story:

The labor went very well! I still needed an IV of antibiotics, but they didn’t need to induce me with pitocin or any other artificial inductive agent, and I did not get an epidural. Champ is completely happy, and we are home now!

The baby we’ve all been waiting for

Long story: It was Hurricane Earl’s fault.

Wednesday night, LT and I are getting ready for bed. He has to get up early in the morning to go for a run with his platoon. I am in bed waiting for him to turn out the light.

“So here’s the plan if my water breaks in the middle of the night,” I said, not meaning any night in particular, and assuming just for conversation’s sake that my water even would break before going into labor. I proceeded to tell him “the plan”—which I can’t even remember now, as well as the plan for if my water broke when he was at work sometime.

He got into bed, and we had a little pillow talk. My husband is entirely funny, and if you know anything about pregnancy, you know that pregnant women have little control of themselves if they laugh or sneeze. I ran to the bathroom, fearing I would pee my pants from laughing. Well, that was a blessing, because my water broke just then, in the bathroom, rather than all over our bed and carpet. It was right about midnight.

“Er, I think my water just broke…” I called out to LT.

>>>skip ahead to both of us going back to bed to try and get some rest before things started happening

>>>and my water really breaking at 1 am, me eating a bowl of Lucky Charms, doing the dishes, and packing everything into the car, all the while having contractions about 4 minutes apart, but ones that were not that painful.

>>>and calling Triage to tell them my water broke…

“No way, really?” The nurse said. I couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or was being excited for me because labor was starting. It was neither. “You are the seventh person to call today saying your water broke.”

It was only 2:30 am. I woke up LT and we headed to the hospital. On our way, my contractions finally started up (I wasn’t terribly surprised. For some reason, every time I would drive on that particular road since my 35th week, I always got contractions!).

We got admitted at 3:06. One of the nurses came in and basically said I was going to get Pitocin whether I wanted it or not, because my water had broken, and I needed to deliver in the next 18 hours. I thought that was ridiculous, and when the OB/GYN came in, I asked her if there was any way to avoid getting Pitocin. She said, “Sure. Just tell your cervix to change.”

I was 1-2 cm and 50% effaced. The baby still hadn’t dropped. One nurse put in my IV for the antibiotics (I tested positive for Group B Strep), and thankfully, I took it really well, without passing out. I may have a fear of veins (I get queasy just seeing someone take their own pulse), but thankfully I have big ones, so when I do have to get stuck, the nurses can do it really easily.

>>>fast forward to getting admitted and heading to to a birthing suite

While we made our way to the birthing suite, one of the nurses commented that the barometric change from Hurricane Earl was causing a lot of women’s waters to break. Talk about a natural induction!

The distinctions between the stages of my labor were a little fuzzy, but I was still in early labor for a few hours, as the contractions intensified. LT massaged my back and applied pressure whenever I had a contraction, and that did the trick. That, plus using different, vertical birthing positions and sitting and rocking on my exercise ball.

At around 5 or 6, the active labor started up. I was starting to feel nauseated, and I asked the nurse if there were any side effects to the antibiotics they put me on. She said no, not really. Another nurse came in to check my progress…the “turkey examination,” as I like to call it, because you feel like a turkey getting stuffed when they check you.

It was not good timing. Right as she applied the pressure, I had a contraction. The combination of the two, plus my nausea, did not end happily. (I vomited over the side of the bed. Labor is very glamorous, I assure you.) We didn’t see that nurse again… and she never told us how I was progressing. We called for a nurse asking if there was anything I could take for the nausea. I was willing to be put on anesthesia then, but they gave me a small dose of Stadol instead. Looking up Stadol later, I am surprised they gave it to me, because one of its side effects is nausea…

Anyway, the Stadol isn’t terribly effective pain relief during labor, especially after early labor. It is virtually ineffective once transition starts. And did I mention it gives you hallucinations? Still, it sedated me enough to let me rest between contractions, since I had not slept in almost 24 hours (during my pregnancy, I would sleep after 14 hours of being awake, at most). It also made me just a little loopy for a while. On one trip to the bathroom, I asked LT to grab me a microwaveable plate so I could have popcorn. I remember saying it, and wondering why on earth I said it, since I was not in our kitchen, and I didn’t know why I would need a microwaveable plate to have popcorn…

Transition was short, lasting an hour at the very most. It started at maybe 9 am. The pain relieving effects of the Stadol had worn off, but I was still pretty groggy. It was annoying sometimes, because I would have to shake myself to stay awake enough to concentrate. I do not recommend anyone get Stadol.

Transition was definitely the most painful period. I howled and screamed, and it was good that LT was there to remind me to breathe through the contractions. Even in the contractions, though, I felt like I could get through them, and I howled more as pain prevention than as a reaction to the pain.

I got to 10 cm really fast during the transition. The nurses said I could push at any time. It was about 10:30. Honestly, I didn’t really feel the “need” to push yet, and once I got to 10 cm, the contractions did not hurt as much. I had a handful of them before deciding that I supposed I could begin pushing.

“I think I can push now.”

I was suddenly surrounded by nurses, midwives, and OB/GYNs. I had started by using the squatting bar, so I could stay vertical while pushing, using gravity to my advantage. But I have short arms and legs, and it was hard for me to comfortably use it as such. One of the nurses pulled a sheet around the bar and handed me both ends, so I could pull myself into a crunch every time I pushed. We did that until the baby started to crown. Then the OB/GYN came who was going to catch the baby, and we had to remove the squatting bar, because it was in his face.

I couldn’t reach the stirrups on the bed, so two nurses had to take my feet and hold them up. They didn’t exactly provide an ample amount of resistance, and it was really hard for me to figure out how to push that way, especially since half my brain power was devoted to staying awake (darn that Stadol!)

Finally, I got the hang of pushing, but the baby was stuck. At this hospital, their policy is to not do episiotomies. In my case, though, they decided to do one. Perhaps they feared that I would tear quite a bit. I didn’t feel the incision.

A few more pushes, big ones, and my son was born at 12:33 pm. They put him on my stomach while they wiped him off.

I had imagined this moment—the first moment I saw my child—as being some supernatural, spiritual connection, where the lights would flash, and things would start moving in slow motion, and soft music would be playing.

Not quite. I was half asleep, and all I could think was, “Look! A baby! He’s on my stomach. Where on earth did all that hair come from?”

Then they took him across the room to clean him while the OB/GYN waited to for my placenta to be delivered. That was a very weird experience, and for the sake of you, the reader, I will not go into it.

He was being observed by another, older OB/GYN. They put me on Pitocin then, to get the placenta out faster. Unfortunately for me, they gave me analgesic before the placenta was out, and by the time they started giving me stitches, it had all worn off.

That was much more painful than labor, let me tell you. In labor, you have some control, and you can deal with the contractions. After getting stitched up from my episiotomy with no pain relief, I am sure I would have been able to handle getting shot with an arrow, having it pulled out, and someone dressing my wounds, in the tenth century. Without wine or rum or anything.

But after that was all done, I was ready to go. I had managed to give birth without being artificially induced and (virtually) without pain medication. I felt like an Amazonian warrior woman. My birth experience was extremely empowering. And because I didn’t have drugs or a C-section, my recovery time was incredibly fast. I felt back to my pre-pregnancy self almost immediately, just fatter.

My baby was born at just 37 weeks, but he is absolutely perfect. He is completely healthy, and I thank God for that every day.

I think that the only things I would have liked to have played out differently about my laboring were the IV and my lack of sleep. Hopefully next time, I will have had at least an hour or two of sleep beforehand. Hopefully I won’t have Group B and I can labor in the shower or tub, using hydrotherapy. I’d love to do a home birth someday.

Things that I really appreciated about my labor experience:

  • A healthy baby
  • A supportive, patient husband who gave massages
  • Free health care (yeah, military benefits!)
  • A huge team of doctors and nurses who supported me

Click here for tips on progressing labor naturally and things to remember if you are going to go into labor.

7 thoughts on “LABOR Day! (a birth story)

  1. Thank you for going into such detail on this, Caitlin! I do enjoy your writing so much. :) Although, I have never delivered a full-term, live baby, I can comment on parts of your labor experience because there were still similarities. First off, let me just say that I completely agree about delivering the placenta being incredibly weird. I was like: “What? Jeremiah’s already out! What’s up with MORE contractions?”

    Secondly, I am so grateful that everything went so well for you. J is absolutely beautiful, and I have loved seeing pictures of him. :)

  2. I am still in awe over you and your wonderfully, amazing, blessed adulthood! Your son is very handsome…you two make good babies!! Enjoy…enjoy…enjoy! Wish I could see you guys. Thanks for being so open in your writing…love hearing about you.

  3. :) Thanks! He is a very adorable baby. I can’t stop looking at him!
    Rachel, we wish we could see you, too! But have no fear, a trip to Washington is actually in the works. It probably won’t happen until 2011 or 2012, but we are wanting to make our way up there when we can!

  4. Pingback: Tips for Mommies to be: Labor | diary of a bewildered mother

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  6. Pingback: Little Champ is TWO!!! | diary of a bewildered mother

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