If you read the birth story about my son, Noah, about a year and a half ago, you know that I went through a long labor and gave birth to a healthy baby boy who was 9 pounds, 8 ounces. Because he was a larger baby and because I would be giving birth for the second time, everyone warned me that my labor & delivery could be very quick. So quick, that I might not have time for an epidural, or even make it to the hospital in time to give birth.
Our baby girl, Meadow, came in the blink of an eye, but that isn't to say she didn't bring with her a little bit of hospital drama. I lucked out in many ways; however, one thing I learned is that if I have more any more babies I will most definitely be delivering in a birthing center rather than in a hospital.
Meadow Rose Temple was born at 7:17 am on Thursday, April 23, 2015 and we love her ineffably.
My due date was on Monday April 20th, 2015. When the date arrived I had no signs of labor. I went to a doctor's appointment with Noah and while I felt a tinge of disappointment because nothing was happening, she assured me that Meadow would most likely arrive before 41 weeks. But, If I did reach 41 weeks, she suggested we schedule an induction.
Admittedly, I was nervous to give birth again, since the first time left me with a still salient postpartum recovery--emotionally and physically--so I wasn't really in any hurry to induce labor.
On Tuesday, I began noticing irregular contractions and by Wednesday afternoon, they were happening every 10-15 minutes. I could tell that I was beginning to enter early labor, but since I was overdue already, I worried that the birth could be days away. Dan left work early to come home, thinking that the birth was imminent. However, I had a visceral sense that it wouldn't happen any time soon, because the contractions were still so far apart.
The evening came and my mom offered to watch Noah so that I could take it easy and be able to go to the hospital if necessary. I was happy to be able to rest, but I worried that if I went to the hospital too early they would just send me home. So, Dan & I went to Target to walk around. During this pregnancy, walking around Target became a comforting routine so we thought, what better place for a soothing walk. Then we went to pick up some dinner because I was starving, and again, this made me think I that wasn't in real labor. When I was in labor with Noah, I couldn't think about food at all. But I couldn't deny how much the contractions hurt.
Around 8pm, we headed home to meet my mom, as she brought Noah home to get ready for bed. My sister also came over so she could stay the night with Noah if we went to the hospital, which is what everyone thought would end up happening.
After Noah got settled into bed, we ended up hanging out for a few hours and then, with plenty of deliberation, Dan and I decided to head to the hospital around 10:30pm.
When we got into the Triage unit, we checked in and the receptionist informed us that we were coming in at the end of a long, busy day. Once we were in a Triage room we met our nurse who was visibly exhausted and annoyed by any questions out of the ordinary. , She behaved as though she'd done this same thing thousand times already that day: she attached two monitors to my belly and took my blood pressure without saying a word.
The doctor was older, he had a slightly condescending and know-it-all air to him but had no idea or worries that others saw him in that light, just who every woman wants a vaginal exam from. He entered shortly after the nurse was done with my blood pressure to check my cervix. My cervix was only at a 4. (To be in active labor and to be admitted into a LDR suite, you have to be 5 cm dilated). I thought surely he would send me home.
However, he immediately suggests that we get on "active path" to getting our baby delivered since I am over 40 weeks (by two days...) and that I begin a dose of Pitocin and order an epidural (at just 4cm dilated...). I mentioned earlier that I am very nervous to induce labor with Pitocin because the literature demonstrates it increases the likelihood of a C-section without added benefit. It seems that doctors offer it up so easily because they want to get you in and out...like a baby factory would.
Naturally, I tell him I would just like to wait a little bit before immediately receiving augmentation. He responded with a anecdote about how he was around in the 70's when all the (presumably) hippies wanted to "go natural", and he knows about natural birth. Then he explained how in the 1800's, when women were giving birth in the back of horse-drawn wagons, the health of children born of truly natural child birth were horrendous. He was actually comparing my wanting to delay Pitocin to giving birth on the back of a wagon in the 1800's. At this point I knew I just needed to be away from this man.
"What if we just want to wait a few hours before making any decisions?" "Can we leave and come back in a few hours?" You would think these would be normal questions for someone who wasn't yet in active labor and showed up to the hospital a tad too early.
Our nurse chimes in with, "Regardless of whatever decision you make, there aren't any LDR rooms open anyway, so you will have to stay in this room. You can take your time and wait it out and we'll check on you in two hours."
My head was about to explode from the sound of the doctor and the nurse talking at me. I asked them if I could have a minute alone and finally they left. Before I knew it, we were in the car and heading back home. We were literally at the point where we called a few of the other hospitals in Pittsburgh to see if they had any rooms open and what it would take to deliver somewhere different. But, every hospital had the same answer: Magee was my hospital-- it had all of my medical records and my OB group practiced there.
When we got back home, I crawled into bed. I was overwhelmed with anxiety because my contractions were getting so strong that my whole body began to shake while they reached their peak and then eased away. I knew that things were picking up quickly now, but the fact that the hospital I had prepared to give birth in didn't have any rooms open for me made me anxious about going back. However, at that moment I knew that I had made the right decision to leave the discomforting Triage room where I was trapped in a tiny bed, strapped to machines, and being pressured at every turn. Meanwhile back at home I was in my own bed, free to move as necessary; consequentially, my body was more relaxed and free to do what it needed. This was the sphincter law in action.
Eventually, I got to the point where I couldn't take it anymore.
"C'mon, we're going back to the hospital," I said with certainty to Dan. "I don't understand why these ones hurt so much more than the last time." I was curled up in a mangled ball underneath our down comforter and I knew that if I got to the hospital, I could at least get the epidural and take a little nap.
When we arrived back to Magee for Round 2 at around 2:30 am, we were surprisingly greeted by a nurse who had a much better attitude. She took us to a different Triage room, a room that seemed much brighter and much cleaner. As she was handing me a drab hospital gown to change into she said, "We thought you went to a different hospital. Someone called here and asked us about a patient that might be coming there."
We did call around, but we never gave any personal information when we did. It never got to that point because everywhere we called told us that they didn't advise switching hospitals while in labor.
I was honest with her and told her that I called around to see if anyone had an open room, since they didn't. In a refreshed tone, she told us that they always have rooms open for patients in labor...
A few minutes later, a new nurse and a resident doctor--a down to earth female probably a little older than us--came in to check my cervix. I can't even begin to tell you how relieved I was to see a female doctor.
"You're at a 7. No wonder your contractions hurt so bad. You got through the hard part already. It's almost time to have this baby." (Now if you remember, the ancient asshole doctor advised me to get Pitocin just two hours before to speed labor up. I went from a 4 to a 7 in two hours on my own.)
The nurse in the room immediately jammed an IV into my wrist and I was whisked away to a LDR suite. I ordered an epidural as soon as I was settled into my new hospital bed because I didn't want to have to be stitched up without it. And, it's amazing to go from extreme pain to a level of comfort where you can take a nap.
In my last birth story, I wrote that I was terrified to receive an epidural, but that when I got it I was so surprised by how much it didn't hurt. For some reason, when I learned I was pregnant again, the fear of the epidural returned and every day I would spend a few minutes dreading it. This time around, it was the same exact thing as the first time-- it didn't hurt. It is uncomfortable, for sure, and it takes a long time to do, but it isn't as painful as contractions.
After the epidural kicked in at about 4am, we turned on the lights and tried to take a nap. I couldn't get a wink of sleep, but it was still nice to lay there and watch an episode of Secrets and Lies and enjoy having no pain. Dan slept on the couch next to me.
After about an hour, I worried that the epidural slowed down my labor. I couldn't feel my stomach tightening, so I constantly asked the nurse every time she came in to check on me if any more contractions were happening. Every time I asked, she looked at the monitor and said, "nothing appears to be happening."
A midwife eventually came in to check my cervix before the end of her shift around 6:30am and told me I was still at a 7. She offered to either give me Pitocin (again) or break my water.
"Break my water," I said. This was familiar territory because I had my water broken towards the end of my labor with Noah, and I remember my body knew it had to push a baby out shortly after.
So, after she left, I turned Secrets and Lies back on and wondered how I was going to push a baby out. Getting the epidural was one of the things I was most nervous about, but now I realized I still had to push. As I began to get lost in my own thoughts and Ryan Phillippe's voice on my iPad I began to have an intense back pain, but only in one tiny spot.
Huh? Was my epidural not working?
I switched from side to side and hit the epidural button. I asked my nurse when she came in and she told me to keep switching sides. I asked her if I was having any contractions now that my water had been broken. She told me I wasn't having any contractions because she didn't see any on the monitor and that I should just continue to switch what side I was laying on and hit my epidural button every 8 minutes.
I did what she suggested, but the tiny pain kept getting more intense. It was only in one spot-- a spot as tiny as a needle prick but it grew and grew until I began to get a little vicious. I was beginning to feel a little pressure, but since the monitors weren't picking up my contractions, I didn't believe it was the pressure that you feel when it is time to push. I just thought my epidural was failing me.
The nurse came back in to check on my belly monitors and I told her I needed a better epidural. She looked at the monitor, confused since no contractions appeared to be happening and finally after I pestered her enough, she told me she would go find a doctor to check me (because a doctor has to check you before you get another dose of an epidural).
About a minute after she left, the pressure began to pick up and I yelled at Dan to wake up. "GO GET A DOCTOR," I yelled. He went outside in the hall and I could hear him say, with skepticism and as though he was still half asleep, "Um, she needs a doctor."
Even while he was just outside in the hall, the pressure grew worse and worse. FAST. I began yelling and crying from the discomfort and I realized it wasn't anything I could control. I knew people could hear me and it made me wonder why I was doing it.
All of the sudden, my doctor comes running in. It was 7am and a new shift had begun, which meant that the doctor changed. I cannot even begin to describe how happy I was to see the doctor who I scheduled my appointments with in the office. She has the best bedside manner and she has made a special bond with Noah over the course of this pregnancy. She jumped into action, checked my cervix and didn't even bother saying anything other than, "It's time."
About 10 minutes later, and less than two sets of pushes later (you do 3 pushes every set), Meadow Rose Temple was here. She arrived at 7:17am and weighed 7 pounds 13 ounces. I didn't even need one stitch! We left the hospital a day early because all I wanted to do was be in my own bed and at home with Noah.
Almost two weeks later, it's hard to remember what life was like without her. My second pregnancy was much different than my first because I worried that Noah wouldn't understand having a new baby around and that he would feel replaced. But, he has adjusted so well. During the first week, I would catch him staring at her in amazement. **He has had his moments (we certainly aren't a perfect family) where he tosses one of his toys at her or does something wild, but it has been very rare and usually happens before a nap.
My recovery, compared to last time, has been a dream. Even though the hospital let us down a lot this time around, I couldn't ask for an easier labor and delivery.
If you have any questions for me, don't hesitate to email me or leave a comment below!