Location: Memphis, TN
Year: 2017
How pregnant: 39 weeks, 3 days
First baby: Yes
Hours in labor: 7
Delivery type: Vaginal
Medicated: Yes

Did you have a birth plan?

I had more of a loose set of wishes than an actual plan (ex: trying to avoid a c-section if possible, being OK with an epidural). I found a lot of birth plan templates online (way too specific and too much information required!). Our 7-week baby class on delivery and early parenthood encouraged a plan, with the disclaimer that it was likely to change depending on circumstances.

When did you know you were in labor?

At my size-estimating ultrasound about 6 weeks out from my due date, the OB told my husband and I that the baby was measuring very small compared to early on in my pregnancy (80th percentile in the first trimester and 5th percentile now). The doctor said not to worry, but of course, we worried. I was referred to a maternal fetal specialist, who would end up giving me ultrasounds twice a week to make sure there was nothing restricting the baby's growth, like blood flow to the placenta. They ultimately never found anything, but they wanted to induce me at 39 weeks just to be on the safe side. Until then, I was instructed to drink Gatorade to try to help me retain fluid and help the baby gain weight.

What happened before you went to the hospital?

We found out my induction date from the hospital only a few days in advance - it would be at 6am! This gave us time to tell out-of-town family so they could fly in for the birth. I couldn't sleep the night before due to the nervous and excited feeling about what was going to happen the next day. We got to the hospital bright and early, checked in, got the heart rate monitors put in place, and the Pitocin drip started, all before 7am.   

What happened first when you got to the hospital?

Since the induction was scheduled, we got to our room right away. Our baby classes had included a tour of the delivery and postpartum rooms, so we knew what to expect. I was maybe 1 cm dilated before the Pitocin was administered, but the baby was very low, which probably contributed to the quick labor. The nurse broke my water, and I was surprised at truly how much fluid there was!  

What did contractions feel like?

Contractions felt like period cramps that would slowly build in intensity. They definitely felt different than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having for weeks, which I felt in my stomach and down one leg when I would get up suddenly. During the early labor contractions, I was chatting and texting with friends. Then, they started to hurt more and I didn't feel like talking anymore.

If you had no pain medication, how did you manage contractions? Was it what you expected?

Early on, breathing techniques from our baby classes helped.

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

At 4-5 cm, I got an epidural. I was not expecting the scary warning about potential side effects from the anesthesiologist. However, I felt like I was getting close to not being able to handle the pain, so I opted in. I remember feeling the needle go in as I was having a contraction, so I could either concentrate on one point of pain or the other.

It took almost an hour for it to kick in, and that’s the only point during labor that I started to internally panic. The nurse also seemed concerned, which contributed to the panicky feeling! I still don't know whether my body just metabolizes anesthesia slowly, or I was dilating so quickly that it took longer for me to feel the effects. Regardless, it finally kicked in just in time.

What happened immediately after your baby was born?

Once the epidural kicked in, I was almost ready to start pushing, and the nurses were shocked at how fast everything had progressed. The nurses actually had me start pushing before the doctor arrived because she was stuck in traffic. Pushing only lasted a few minutes and I remember thinking that "my eyeballs were going to pop out" from the straining.

The birth itself was a blur and a whirlwind: lots of people came in the room, the baby came out, they announced "it's a girl," and my husband cut the umbilical cord. They stitched up a small tear I had while her measurements were taken. They placed her on my chest while she was being cleaned off, and I started breastfeeding soon after that. Lots of tears and smiles all around.

Anything else you want to add?

Overall, we had a positive and fairly straightforward birth experience. I'm thankful that our baby ended up being healthy and just over 6lbs...the fear about being growth restricted or "small for gestational age" didn't end up becoming a reality. Yet, going through that experience caused a lot of anxiety that would last well into maternity leave (worry is probably inevitable as a new parent, regardless of your circumstance!).

In retrospect, I think we were right not to focus too much worry on the actual birth, because so much of that is out of your control. If I could do it over again, I might focus more on preparing for the first few weeks as a new mom...learning how to use the breast pump, having a couple bedtime routine ideas in my back pocket, knowing how all-consuming feedings would be, etc. That (for me) was the harder part. But this stage also has its fun moments - my phone has never been more filled with cute baby pictures :)    

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

Scheduled induction, QUICK labor, small (and adorable!) baby.


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