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Labor, the hospital, and coming home: Part I

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Labor, the hospital, and coming home.  A very physical and emotional roller coaster but not all in the ways I expected.

Part I:  The Labor

Very few women aren’t worried about this and I was no different.  Not exactly scared but definitely concerned.

I didn’t actually have many expectations going in and zero experience, but there are certain things you hear over and over  about labor so you assume they likely to happen.  The first baby usually means several hours/days of labor at the hospital.  First time parents usually go to the hospital too early.  It will be more graphical than the beginning of  Saving Private Ryan.  And so on.

I wanted a natural birth, even though everyone told me “that’s what they all say”, and that I’d be begging for drugs, worst pain of your life, etc, etc…  I had read a book called Your Best Birth, and even though it focused on births in USA, and definitely leaned toward natural choices, it made sense to me.  I wanted to know how it felt to give birth, if it was manageable and safe for the baby and myself.  Beyond that, things would go as they would go.

How it happened for us.


It was 5 days past the due date before we saw any action.  And after the EDD, we had to see the doctor every 2 days.  Every visit the “you’re still here?” look intensified.

A friend wanted the baby on the due date, which is also her daughter’s birthday.  D had wanted the baby for his birthday.  Everyone else thought a 09-09-09 birthday would be nice.

On the morning of the 9th, I finally (another long story) got to take the written test for my German driver’s license .  After, we drove to Aachen to exchange my FL license for the German one.   Then D dropped me off at home and went to work.  I was feeling sore since I’d overdone it the day before with the bright idea to go for a LONG walk, in flip flops.  So the rest of day’s agenda involved the couch followed by more couch.

Maybe it’s time.

Just after lunch I started noticing twingy ache which came back again.  I opened a txt file, since I using my laptop, and started marking the time, 14:33, 15:12, etc…After a few hours I googled contractions 30+ minutes apart.  Everything I read said that contractions this far apart could be false labor and  not worth tracking, so I stopped noting the time.

But the contractions didn’t stop and by the time D got home from work they were about 15-20 minutes apart.  I didn’t have much appetite at dinner (for maybe the first time in 9 months now that I think back) but I was  still not convinced it was the real thing until they were less than 10 minutes apart later that night.

Yep, it’s time.

At 1:30 a.m. we left on foot since the hospital is a 10 minute walk from our apartment.  We called our midwife before we left, and I had two contractions on the way.  As we walked across the open plaza, we crossed a man going in the opposite direction and I almost laughed, realizing how we probably looked.  At the hospital they put us on the CTG machine which recorded a consistent pattern of peaks, yes,  we were having strong regular contractions.

The midwife arrived a few minutes later and we moved into one of the three birthing rooms, where she checked me; we were already 7 cms dilated.

Somewhere between 2 and 7 a.m.

I didn’t keep track of the time really, but it went by fast.  Just 3 cm to go, so we continued the same way:  during each wave D would massage my lower back (awesome) while I repositioned myself to find the most comfortable angle, then a rest period, and repeat.

At some point our midwife checked again and we decided to manually break my water.  After that, the hope was that things would progress faster but as they didn’t, they started me on a small dosage of pitocin.  For those who don’t know, pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin, the hormone that causes contractions.   The CTG in the birth room was attached to me again to monitor the baby’s heartbeat for any signs of distress.

D and I were both interested in the CTG (the engineers in us I guess), and questioning why this unit’s results seemed different than the one monitoring us earlier.  A part of me also enjoyed seeing the peak of the contractions digitally quantified by the sensors, weird?

At two different times we heard women in the other birth rooms screaming.  Egh.

7 to 9 a.m.

So now the contractions were coming hard again due to the pitocin.  We were in the pushing phase of labor, though I’m sure there is a more technical term for it.   In theory I hadn’t wanted the pitocin, as epidurals usually follow, but when you are actually in the middle of labor, you have to trust your body AND your midwife and doctor.  D told me after the fact that they dialed the pitocin up at one point and then down again but I didn’t notice.

It was definitely the hardest part for me, though I wouldn’t say it was an unmanageable pain.  For me, it was intense but not a bone-crushing pain.  It’s more the repetition that starts to wear you down.  D was great from this point until the end when things were definitely tougher physically and mentally.

One last little bit

Okay, we’re almost there.  D, the midwife, and the doctor are all coaching me through the last part.  We would do one contraction on my right side, then one laying back, then one lying on my left side, pushing hard each time.  We had made progress but the last little bit was stalling for some reason.  My physical strength was starting to wane and I really did not enjoy changing sides between contractions.

The doctor tried a few more things but in what felt like an instant, she had brought in a vacuum to get what she called “the last few centimeters”, but what was probably more than that.  After the help there, we had her, and she was lying on my stomach in two pushes.

She’s here!

Wow!  She didn’t cry but her eyes were open and alert.  I was still in a bit of a daze at first.  D cut the cord.  She was lying on my belly, not my chest, because our sweet daughter happened to have a short umbilical cord.  The midwife explained that this was the reason for the stalling at the end – she was at then end of her cord.   The next few minutes were joyful and calm, and  everyone exuded relief, baby included.

Giving birth is an amazing process, and, I think, very individual.  I went in with the idea that every birth is different and we’d just do our best, and this is still how I feel about it on the other side.

What surprised me / Things I hadn’t read about this whole labor business

Labor is not like a fire drill.  At least for the first baby, you will probably have plenty of time to pack your hospital bag.  Though in my case I wish I had packed for a week instead of 3 days, more on that later.

Thirsty yes, hungry no.   Not even a little.  Some people talk about being starving during labor but this was absolutely false for me.  After, yes, but not during.

Your people are priceless.  D, the midwife, and even the doctor.  I absolutely needed that physical and mental support and am beyond thankful for it.

Childbirth can be pain med optional.  We were very lucky to have minor complications, but I was surprised at how relatively pain free I felt, just minutes after the birth.  The doctor did administer some local anesthetic to take care of some stitches I needed, but less than an hour after the birth I was gingerly walking around, changing my clothes and looking for something to eat in the bags we had packed.   That’s it.  Not even a Tylenol for the whole week we were in the hospital.

Lastly, enjoy the first 2 days when the baby sleeps almost all day because it doesn’t last!

my physical strength was starting to wane.

Written by Kat

October 20, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Posted in bebe baby, family, love, newborn

Tagged with ,

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