I’ve decided to do a mini-series on my pregnancy experiences with both of my children. My experience with Matthew was previously posted (you can find them here: Part 1 – The Pregnancy & Part 2 – Labor & Delivery) and Emma Part 1 – The Pregnancy was last week. Today will wrap up the last post in this series.
As I do each time I’m pregnant, I re-read a lot of the pregnancy books just to make sure that I’m not forgetting something important (you can find my recommendations here). One of the things that is emphasized over and over in everything I read is that every woman experiences pregnancy differently, and that even within the same woman, her individual pregnancy experience can differ from baby to baby. I was hoping that last part wasn’t true, because I felt like I had a relatively easy first pregnancy experience, but I’ve learned that it is unfortunately completely true. My second pregnancy still wasn’t horrible (compared to a lot of stories I hear from other women), but it was different than my first. So I figure it may be helpful to other moms to hear about each experience I had, since you never really know what you are going to get!
Part 2: Emma – Labor & Delivery
I had mentioned in last week’s post (Emma Part 1 – The Pregnancy) that my husband was so much less anxious and more relaxed than when we were delivering with Matthew. The announcement that my water had broken was met with the most casual of responses.
Now my husband is a great guy, and I love him to pieces, but sometimes he forgets some basic considerations. I’m not sure if he was just so relaxed about the whole experience this time or if he just thinks of me as being a tough and independent woman, but when we got to the hospital, he started to park the Jeep in one of the numerous parking spots which were available at 1 AM. I had to ask him to drop me off at the entrance so I wouldn’t have to walk as far!
Honestly, just because I am a tough and independent woman doesn’t mean that I want to walk across a huge parking lot when I’m in labor. It’s bad enough that the labor & delivery unit are on the other side of the gigantic hospital and I’d have to walk pretty far anyways. Last time with Matthew, I remember waddling down the hospital corridor without any issue. This time I had to stop every few hundred feet to breathe through a contraction. They were starting to come much earlier and faster than they had with Matthew!
We check into the Labor & Delivery unit and I again gently remind the nurse of my prior labor experience with Matthew. I mentioned that once things get started, they tend to move rather quickly with me. The nurse I was speaking to seemed to dismiss my comment. I restated it, trying to make sure they knew not to leave me alone in the room this time, and she finally said she would put me in a room right outside the nurses’ station so they would be able to hear if anything was happening.
So I get settled into the room, and everyone starts in on the paperwork and preliminary exam to ensure that my water has indeed broken. You would think that a second time mom who is clearly having contractions can be believed when she states her water has broken, but unfortunately everything has to follow a protocol nowadays. Like last time, I have a resident checking me over (not sure where the doctor is!). As she goes to look inside and complete the second of the “has your water broken” tests, she suddenly pulls back and takes her gloves off. The nurse looks aghast and asks why she isn’t doing the test. The resident replies, “I see hair. You don’t need to do any other tests.” I instantly liked her personality!
I also make a point to tell her that my last labor was quick. She takes a minute to look at the rate of contractions, think about her internal exam, and evaluate the pain in my voice when the contractions hit. Finally, after chewing on her thoughts for a bit she says, “Well, we will see. But you never know. It could be sooner than later.” I was getting the feeling that no one really believed me.
It was around 2:30 AM once all that was completed. And since I could feel that things were ramping up, the next time I saw a nurse I asked for the nitrous oxide which had helped me through Matthew’s labor. She said no one was currently using it, and that there would be no problem getting it when it was needed. I told her that I was going to be needing it soon, so I would like the process started. I remembered how long it took to get it to my room last time, so I figured I would get a jump start on all the paperwork and such. It must have been a slow night in the maternity ward, because the nitrous did arrive sooner than before, but I definitely needed it by the time it showed up!
I could tell that the contractions were getting worse and coming more quickly. But they were different than Matthew’s contractions. With Matthew’s, they started near the top of my belly and would contract down, like you would expect for something that will be helping you push a baby out. With Emma’s, they were all located in my lower abdomen, almost where you would feel cramping from your period. And all my contraction monitors and bands were situated up near the top of my belly. I think that’s why no one really thought that my labor was progressing as fast as it was, because the contractions weren’t being properly picked up by the machine and relayed to the nurses’ station.
And unfortunately, the nitrous was doing absolutely nothing this time to help my pain. I kept trying it and trying it, and I even remember asking my husband if they had forgotten to turn the machine on. I finally gave up on it and basically just had the mask crammed in my hand, using it as a stress ball as I tried to weather the pain of natural childbirth on my own!
In what seemed like no time at all, I started to uncontrollably shake – and not just little shakes. They were full body tremors. Again, this was not something that I remember having with Matthew’s labor. There was nothing I could do to stop them. My body and nervous system were just going into overdrive!
And then the pain – on my gosh this hurt! So much more than Matthew’s labor. With Matthew, I remember being in intense pain, but I was able to work the nitrous with each wave which took the edge off. This time there was nothing helping me and I screamed. Full out screamed. Again, it wasn’t a conscious decision, but I only really realized it was happening when I heard a scream and eventually figured out it was coming from me…
And that’s when all the nurses, labor staff, and the doctor finally showed up! (At least this time they were in the room before the baby came out!). In just a few minutes time, they had me shift into a different position on the table, did a quick check, and were trying to coach me through the process. I gasped out and asked if I was dilated, and the doctor replied that I was – fully dilated and ready to go. All I wanted was for the pain to stop. A few more screams escaped. Finally, I heard the doctor say:
“Lesley, if you can hear me, we are going to get this baby out of here. I want you to give me a really good 10 count push. Can you do that?”
I nodded. He started counting out loud, and I started pushing. At about 7 I was running out of steam, and then one final huge bolt of pain hit as I felt her head and shoulder slide through, ripping me open yet again. Finally! I was still in pain, still shaking, but much less and everything was starting to calm down.
It was 3:43 AM. Less than 3 hours from the first contraction to delivery.
I was exhausted. It was worse than just finishing a marathon. Later on, when everything had been stitched up, cleaned up, and I was feeling more myself, the doctor came back in. He said that even though it’s good to get the labor and delivery over quickly, labors that go as fast as mine did can be super intense and hard for the body to handle. He didn’t need to tell me that! Both of my deliveries were super-fast, and even though they don’t last long, my body felt as if it had been put through the ringer. All I wanted to do was sleep.
After some rest, Rob also told me a few things about the delivery that I was oblivious to during the actual event. Apparently, when the doctor asked me to push to get the baby out quickly, it was because her heart rate had just plummeted from the 150s to about 60 BPM. Again, I learned this can be very common in a quickly progressive labor since the baby doesn’t have time to adapt to what’s happening, but it’s also a sign that the baby needs to get out ASAP. I’m just glad I was able to push her out on the first try so we were able to get her heart rate back up and stable without any emergency measures or surgery for me. I thought I detected a bit of distress in the doctor’s voice when he said that to me, but I was too focused on all the pain I was feeling to really think much about it at the time.
While still in the hospital, I was holding Emma in my arms, so grateful to have my little girl safe and sound. But I was reflecting back on the tougher pregnancy, my age, the delivery experience….and it was then that I knew.
This was going to be my last baby. I was never doing that again!
All the best,
P.S. I’d love to know how and when you knew you were done adding to your family. Send me a message. I read every one!