For those of your who are curious, here’s how the birth went. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone keeps asking me whether I prefer natural childbirth at the birthing center or epidural at the hospital but I really can’t decide. The epidural was amazing, but the “medicalness” (for lack of a better word) and bureaucracy of the hospital made it almost not worth it. Almost. Anyway, here’s the summary:
When I first got into the hospital gown and got into bed there was a flurry of activity where I was signing papers while being hooked up to a blood pressure cuff, contraction monitor, fetal monitor, and they were prepping the IV. It was during shift change so I couldn’t tell who exactly was supposed to be doing what and there were a lot of people in and out. I felt myself start to freak out a little bit. I felt like I was being prepped for brain surgery; it seemed like such an unnatural way to have a baby.
The room I was in was nice, but it was not “just like a hotel room” like some of my friends who’d gone to that hospital had described. The birthing center rooms are, truly, just like a hotel room. This was a hospital room with frilly curtains. But that was fine, it was nice to see that they made an effort to make mothers feel comfortable.
I didn’t realize how much your nurse is in charge of your labor. If you got a stopwatch and timed how long the OB was in the room with me in total, including the birth, it would have added up to less than 10 minutes. I was lucky to get a fantastic nurse who I really clicked with so I didn’t mind that the doctor wasn’t there much, I just thought it was interesting.
They started the Pictocin and the nurse told me to prepare myself for some sudden, hard contractions. OK. Thirty minutes later, nothing. She turned up the Pictocin. Still nothing. Broke the water and turned it up again. Nothing. The monitor was registering some contractions and I was slowly dilating but I felt nothing.
This patter of turning up the Pictocin with no reaction continued. They hadn’t really experienced anything like it before. After consulting with the OB and all the other nurses they decided to switch the IV bag since it seemed that the only explanation could be that there wasn’t actually Pictocin in there (to which I was thinking, “Greeeeat, I’m being pumped full of some mystery drug.”) But nothing changed with the new bag so they continued to be perplexed.
Finally the contractions started, and they were strong. At around 5 cm they were getting quite strong and I started thinking about what pain management technique I should use. I learned from my son’s birth that I’m not a “relaxation” kind of person — Bradley Method really didn’t do it for me — so I tried something else: listening to rap music. I asked everyone, including my husband, to leave the room for a while. I grabbed my iPod, turned up the volume, and let the wise words of Tupac lead me through the contractions.
I cannot believe how well it worked.
The OB came in to check on me somewhere around 6 cm. He saw me happy and relaxed in the bed with my headphones on, and was very surprised when he looked at the printout of my contractions. “Umm, how are you doing? I’m surprised you haven’t asked for an epidural yet.” I told him I was managing the contractions just fine and he asked what my secret was. He thought I was kidding when I told him it was rap music.
At that point the nurse came in and strongly encouraged me to get an epidural. I told her I felt like I should wait until I had even one contraction I couldn’t handle, but she said she was worried that I would wait too long and then wouldn’t have the option. So I agreed.
I was surprised at how intense getting the epidural was. It’s a minor surgical procedure! It really freaked me out. I’m not a fan of having needles millimeters away from my spinal cord while being implored to “hold still!” But I’m glad I did it. The rest of the labor progressed quickly, and I let my mother and mother-in-law be in the room for the birth, something I wouldn’t have done if I’d been doing natural childbirth.
The rest of the birth after the epidural was painless. It was amazing. I was able to really take in the experience much more so than when I was out of my head with pain when my son was born.
Postpartum at the hospital
So the birth was really good, actually. The next three days in the hospital were sort of a mixed bag. The hospital was much more concerned about pain management than the birthing center, constantly offering me pain meds, ice packs and other comfort aids, which was awesome. It was weird to be in a hospital with the baby since I went home right after I had my son, but I kind of got used to it.
All the nurses on the floor had heard of the baby because of her red hair, and all the OB’s on the floor had heard of me because of my pain management through rap music technique. 🙂
I had more than one problem with the nursery staff, though, when they lied to me about what procedures they were going to do, refused to tell me why they were taking her blood, ignored my refusal of the hepatitis vaccine (my husband caught it right before they were about to do it), took her away for two hours right after she was born, etc. They seemed to think of her as their property and bristled at any inquiries on my part.
But, for the most part, everyone was nice and I didn’t really mind staying in the hospital.
The baby’s big brother seems to like her quite a bit. I am so incredibly grateful for the fact that we live with my mom. Since he’s constantly around her and we have a regular babysitter he doesn’t require my attention 24/7, so he’s not particularly bothered by the fact that I’m busy with the new baby a lot.
The only concern now is how sleepy she is. My son was super-alert, super-intense from day one, only reluctantly sleeping, preferring to eat or look around day and night. This baby is the total opposite, sleeping the vast majority of the time, only reluctantly waking up to eat for just five or ten minutes at a time. She’s gaining weight (best baby purchase ever: my own digital baby scale) but I just worry since she’s so different from her brother and I’m on two different blood thinners (one of which my doctor assured me is “probably” safe for breastfeeding) and Vicodin for the recently-reappearing blood clot pain. I would like to sit back and enjoy a baby who actually likes to sleep, but as a paranoid new mom it’s hard not to worry despite my doctors’ reassurances.
So, that’s a summary of my week last week. Hopefully as things settle down this blog will be back to it’s regularly scheduled programming soon.
I want to add that I’ve been exceptionally blessed with how well this has all gone — caring, wonderful people being thrown in my path at every turn — and I think that that is in no small part thanks to all the people who have prayed for us over these past few weeks. Thank you.
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