Three Labours, Three Ways
I had three completely different birth experiences (one c-section, one with epidural and one natural), and all of them had clear signs of the child that newborn was going to become.
My first son Aaron was induced at 37 weeks after I spent two months on bedrest due to a fairly rare placental abruption. We used to joke with my OB that he was dismantling his home from the inside trying to figure out how it all worked. He was heavily monitored, especially during my four-week stay in the hospital. At 37 weeks exactly they started an induction but within hours, complications arose and I was wheeled off for a c-section. Aaron was born within the hour, a healthy 6lbs and 13 ounces. He was promptly put in the NICU for observation and the first three days were all spent in a fog, we even had to leave the hospital without him. We brought him home and he had to lie in his bassinet wrapped up on Billie lights for jaundice for a couple more days and be closely monitored. It sounds worse than it was; we were so overjoyed to have our high-risk baby at home with us nothing could really take away from it.
And nine years later, my son is still a complicated, heavily observed and discussed child. He likes to figure out how things work and he is a wonderful, loving and unusual kid. And there is something about him that seems not quite ready as if he could have used a bit more time in the oven. I wonder if life would be a bit easier for him if he had a smoother entry into the world.
Sam, my second child had the exact same due date as his older brother. (July long weekend is known as conception weekend around here.) But the experience could not have been more different. I was insistent that I deliver the baby vaginally and I had a supportive doctore who agreed. I was walking around a week before my due date and I started to realize that my “Braxton-hicks” were becoming less like hicks and more like contractions. They were rhythmic but not bothersome. I hung out, my husband went to work. I think he felt a bit useless, like this dad. Twelve hours later my doula came over, she gave me a massage we had spaghetti carbonarra and waited. Once we got to the hospital I had my epidural (greatest thing in the world and don’t let anyone tell you differently.) and waited some more. My doctor arrived the next day said I was ready to push. And here is the part that typifies Sam – everything was going slow and easy but once that kid was ready to come out, he literally flew out. And that is so Sam, he is easygoing and rolls with the punches but when he decides something that is it -- no negotiation. And his favourite food his spaghetti carbonarra. Sam gave me something that I had been longing for a “normal” pregnancy and birth.
And Jenna gave us no warning at all. At 9pm on the day before her due date, I felt a bit sick. I went to bed at 11pm, but woke up three hours later with contractions seven minutes apart and woke up my hubby. He said he would time them but he promptly fell back asleep, when I woke him back up he said “ see they are 22 minutes apart”. Yeah, if he hadn’t slept through two contractions that would have been true. We set off to the hospital at 3:30 am. I remember the time exactly because we heard the CBC news. After the longest 11 minute drive of my life. My doula and I got out of the car at the emergency room door of the hospital. I took one look at her and said, “I cannot make it”. Then all Hell broke loose. She started yelling that I was a VBAC and needed to get upstairs, a wheelchair arrived. A security guard took us in the service elevator but we went down, not up. And then my water exploded all over the elevator and I swear her head crowned right there. My doula, God bless her, kept saying don’t worry we will get you there and you will get your epidural, even though we both knew she was lying. We finally made it to the 10th floor and my doula was frantically pushing me down the hall, we ran past my husband who had made it there before us, and here is the embarrassing part – I was lowing like an animal. And the labour nurses could tell from the timbre of my voice that the baby was on the way out. They threw me on a table and Jenna was born at 3:52am. I was totally shocked when they put her on me -- my mind took a few minutes to catch up with with the physical truth of what had just happened. But the fast exit is just like her – she has a plan and she executes it. And everyone can just stand back and watch.
What surprised me the most about labour was how uncontrollable it is, no matter what the medical approach was, every labour proceeds on its own schedule and with its own challenges. Kind of like kids.
I can’t be the only one with this idea. What surprised you about your labour experience?