Location: Richmond, VA
Year: 2017
How pregnant: 40 weeks, 3 days
First baby: Yes
Hours in labor: 29
Delivery type: Vaginal
Medicated: Yes

Did you have a birth plan?

I didn't have a written birth plan. I did have a sense of how I would like things to go, but I knew certain things would be out of my control and I would have to go with whatever was best for me and the baby. I wanted to avoid an induction, which didn't happen. I wanted to try to have a non-medicated birth, which didn't happen. I think in the end, knowing that I needed to be mentally prepared to be flexible helped.

When did you know you were in labor?

At my appointment on my due date I was 4cm dilated, but there were no signs of labor. Two days later I lost the mucous plug and was having more Braxton-Hicks contractions, but wasn't really feeling the baby move as much so I called my doctor. They had me come in and we monitored him--he was doing great, but they recommended an induction and even though I initially didn't want to go that route, (really only because I knew pitocin brings on labor more strongly and I didn't think I could handle the pain as easily), I trusted that my doctors were recommending that in the best interest of me and the baby, so I agreed.

What happened before you went to the hospital?

My doctor's office was attached to the hospital, so before going in to get checked out I went ahead and put our stuff in the car just in case we weren't coming home--smart decision.

What happened first when you got to the hospital?

We were checked in right away, around 1pm--it was a slow day in the labor and delivery unit. The admin person came in to log in my insurance information (even though I pre-registered), and the nurse came in to do my IV and they hooked two monitors up to my belly--one for me and one for the baby. Those were not the most comfortable belts in the world, but it was fine.

The on-call doctor saw me right away and we discussed how I wanted to get labor started--either with pitocin or breaking my water. We decided to start with pitocin and go from there. I hadn't eaten anything but a bowl of cereal that day (smart), so they gave me some crackers and peanut butter.

What did contractions feel like?

With the pitocin, labor contractions started but were mild at first and started to build. By evening I hadn't made any progress and the baby wasn't responding well to the pitocin, so they slowed it down and let me get some sleep.

Around 6am we decided to break my water. That was the most intense moment up to that point--the doctor broke it and there was a huge gush followed by immediate, intense contractions.

I sat up in the bed and could barely stand the intensity of what was happening--it was like a switch had flipped in my body. I asked for an epidural right away. In the meantime they gave me a narcotic, which was helpful to tide me over.

If you got an epidural, how did that work? Was it what you expected?

The epidural was great. Once the doctor administered it, the pain relief was immediate and I didn't feel any pain until it was time to push (10 hours later). Did I mention I was in labor for a long time?

The only downside was not being able to get out of bed and move around and having a catheter, but at that point I had lost all sense of modesty and my nurse was amazing, so it didn't bother me too much.

What happened immediately after your baby was born?

Immediately after he was born he was put on my chest for magic hour--something the hospital did automatically. He pooped all over me which was unexpected but memorable and funny.

Looking at him for the first time and snuggling him I felt a wave of love and awe that this little person grew inside of me and was finally here. Leading up to the birth I was nervous I wouldn't feel a bond immediately, but that didn't happen. It also became clear to me that he was a huge baby (since they weigh them after magic hour--he came in at 9 lbs 13 ounces), so that explained the lack of movement leading up to induction--he was running out of room!

Anything else you want to add?

Pushing is HARD. Like, the hardest physical activity I've ever done. When I was fully dilated I ended up needing to wait 30 minutes before pushing for real because I was so numb (you have to have some sense of feeling down there to know what you're doing). So my husband and I got 30 minutes to ourselves to mentally just take it all in--that was a really nice time--our final moments as a family of two.

When it was up and I was pushing for real, I realized after the first one that I needed to be completely silent and use all of my strength to concentrate on what I was doing. I didn't bring any music with me to the hospital and I'm glad I didn't--for me that would have been too distracting--I was all business. Towards the end when I could feel the pressure of the baby in the birth canal I couldn't get him out of there fast enough. I delivered 1.5 hours after I started pushing.

Final question: How would you describe this delivery in one sentence?

The single life event I am most proud of and the strongest I have ever felt, with the greatest reward.

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