Before having Harper, the closer I approached my due date, the more often I got asked the question if I was getting nervous. My response was always the same no matter who asked the question, "She's gotta come out sometime so I might as well get it over with." And in all honesty, that's exactly how I felt. Up until about an hour before I had to go to the hospital to be induced, I was never really nervous about going into labor. I knew everyone else did it and survived and so I knew I would too.
Yet, even though I wasn't nervous about labor and delivery, I still read as many birth stories as possible, read lots of different articles, and asked quite a few friends about their experiences. I think with all of this combined, it helped me to feel much more comfortable even though I knew my experience would be completely different from everyone else's since no two people will have the same experience.
But even though every situation and birth is different, I wanted to write about my experience with some of the things I had questions and concerns about in hopes that it may help some of you readers if you have the same questions.
Being Induced with Cytotec
If you read Harper's birth story, you'd know that I had to go in the night of her due date to be induced. The first step in my induction process was to receive three doses of Cytotec in order to soften my cervix. Cytotec is just a tiny pill that is inserted on the other side of your cervix. During the insertion process, I felt a bit of pressure but wasn't uncomfortable or in any pain. Following the insertion, you can't get up for thirty minutes to an hour in order to make sure the pill stays in place. After that time is up, you're free to move and go to the bathroom as you please. One in every four women go into labor as a result of the drug. Unfortunately, I was part of the 75% of women who didn't. However, the drug did cause me to have contractions and thus resulted in them only being able to give me two out of the three doses I was supposed to receive.
Being Induced with Pitocin
Having not gone into labor from the Cytotec injections, I was placed on a Pitocin drip. I'm not going to lie, the idea of Pitocin wasn't very appealing to me. I'd heard lots of people talk about how painful it made the labor process and that in itself made me dread it. But I can't say that it was as bad as I expected! I began to the Pitocin drip around 8:30am. There was no extra needle or anything needed. The nurse just hung the bag on my IV pole and stuck the needle into the IV that was already in my arm.
Every thirty minutes, the nurse would come in and check my current contractions. If they were pretty stable, she'd bump the dosage up by 2 mU's. If they were going haywire, she'd leave it until the next thirty minutes came. The maximum dosage my hospital will give you is 30 mU. It wasn't until I'd reached 18 mU's that I really felt anything. The only trouble I had was that with each increase, I had to go to the bathroom.
Once I reached 18mU's, I was five cm's dialated and was starting to feel cramping in my side. After telling my nurse, she suggested I go ahead and have an epidural. I informed her it didn't hurt that bad but she insisted that if I was going to have one anyways, I might as well have it before the pain began. Figuring she was right, I went on and had the nurse put in the order.
I've never been one to be afraid of needles, so receiving an epidural didn't scare me. However, reading that an epidural could cause paralysis did. But thankfully, my anesthesiologist talked with me before I received my epidural and told me about the myths versus the facts. After our little chat, I was no longer concerned and told him to go for it.
To receive my epidural, the doctor had me sit sideways on the bed. I then had to scoot as far back as I could so that basically I was sitting on the edge of one side and my legs and feet were hanging off the other. I then had to bend over as far as I could (yes, with a bulging baby belly), put my arms around my husband's waist in order to keep me in position (he stood in front of me), and arc my back like a rainbow.A nurse then wiped my back down with iodine in order to reduce infection. After which, the doctor thumped a few of my vertebrae in order to find the perfect spot and then in went the needle. It made a popping sound and I felt a brief pinch and then it was done. Easy peasy!
It took about twenty minutes for my epidural to kick in and take complete effect. As it kicked into place, I felt a cool sensation in my veins, similar to how your muscles feel when you apply icy hot. Once it kicked into place, I could feel pressure if it was applied but had no pain. It was a strange feeling. On top of that, something they don't tell you is due to the sensation, you feel like your legs are full of fluid. They feel extremely heavy. Or at least, thats how mine felt. I had to steal a few peeks under the hospital blanket to make sure my legs hadn't swelled twice their size. But to my relief, they looked like they had before!
Also, when you receive an epidural, the nurse will come in and put in a catheter since you're not allowed to get up and go to the restroom. However, it isn't placed until you have no feeling so no fear! You don't even notice!
One of the perks to having an epidural is it allows your body to relax and thus speeds up the labor process. So just two hours after receiving my epidural, my doctor broke my water and three hours after that it was pushing time. Because I'd had an epidural and couldn't feel anything from the waist down I was worried that I wouldn't know when it was time to push... especially since I hadn't felt a single contraction since the epidural had kicked in. Yet, that wasn't the case. When the time came, by body seemed to take over and began to run on autopilot. When people tell you a woman's body is made from childbirth they aren't kidding. It amazed me how my body knew just what to do when I didn't. With each contraction, I could feel the pressure building and it just came naturally to me as to when I needed to start pushing and when I needed to stop. I didn't need to watch my contractions on a monitor or have the nurse tell me when to start or stop, I just knew it. So for two hours I pushed until I heard that beautiful scream and felt my baby being tossed on my chest. Yes, I said tossed, because literally thats what they do!
After Harper was tossed on my chest like a football, the doctor and nurse pushed on my belly for me to deliver the placenta as well as clean out my uterus. To be honest, that was the most painful part of delivery. The fact that someone was pushing and squeezing on my belly was quite uncomfortable. However, it only lasted about thirty seconds and then it was over. And truthfully, that thirty seconds flew by because I was so engrossed in staring at my baby that was laying on my chest looking into my eyes. Yes, it was heaven, even though it was not so much of heaven going on below my chest!
Labor and delivery was nothing as I expected. It was nothing like Hollywood portrays in movies. I didn't have to breath in patterns, have someone hold my hand, or have someone talk soothingly to me. I wasn't screaming or yelling. I was laughing, cutting up, and cracking jokes the whole time I pushed. I was never in excruciating pain. The worst pain I felt from the whole experience was getting the IV placed in my arm when I first arrived at the hospital. If you can manage that, it's all downhill from there!
It's really an amazing experience and is definitely something I look forward to doing again in a few years from now. If you have any questions or concerns that I didn't cover, feel free to ask. I'll be happy to share my experience with you (: