Bebop’s birth story was posted on our old website, and it no longer available (sorry). I’d like to tell the story again with some reflection after 5 years.
newborn Bebop, just hours old
A Surprise at 36 Weeks
Three weeks and two days before Bebop was due, my water broke early in the morning. Had I been thinking rationally, I would have remembered that I would have to have my baby in the next 24 hours due to the risk of infection. Instead, I was completely in the land of denial for several hours, even after we got to the hospital, got admitted, and started Pitocin. I was not supposed to have a baby for another three weeks, and I was NOT READY! I didn’t even have a hospital bag packed; I just threw some stuff in a bag as quickly as we walked out the door.
Contractions did not start on their own, so a little over 5 hours after my water broke, I was induced. My induction involved an IV of Pitocin and a few other unpleasant procedures that I didn’t know were possible. I fought against the contractions for several hours, and came pretty close to a full panic before I finally decided to get some drugs. The first attempt at an epidural didn’t take, so they had to come back and try again. When the medicine finally kicked in, I was able to relax and labor started to progress. When I finally came to terms with the fact that I was about to have a baby, I started working with the contractions rather than fighting them. Bebop was born about an hour and a half after I stopped fighting the labor.
The first 24 hours after Bebop was born was harder as I expected. No one warned me about the rush of adrenaline you get from pushing out a kid, or the fact the nurses take your vitals every hour for the first 6 hours (Bebop was born at 9 pm, they woke me up all night). Between the two, I couldn’t sleep at all. The day after Bebop was born, I started getting a headache. I assumed it was from lack of sleep. The nurses offered me Motrin, but I didn’t want any more drugs. (Take the Motrin, muscles you didn’t know you had will hurt… a lot… whether you had drugs during labor or not.)
The second night I slept a little better, as did Bebop. Day two I woke up with a killer headache and asked the nurse for anything that would help. Nothing worked and the anthologist came in the afternoon to talk to me. They suspected I had a spinal headache from the epidural. I was to expect nausea to kick in soon and last anywhere from a few days to 6 months. I was past the window where they could have done another injection in my back that might have helped, so the only option left was to wait for it all to pass. My headache and nausea lasted about a week. I couldn’t sit up for more than 5 minutes without throwing up. It was an awful feeling to not be able to take care of my brand new baby. I’m only telling you about the negative reaction to the epidural so you’ll understand why I was so determined to avoid it the second time around. (A story I will tell in another post.)
This is how I remember the first week.
I Didn’t Trust My Doctors
I was unaware of how much I really didn’t trust my OB team until I showed up at the hospital the morning Bebop was born. The hospital we chose was a teaching hospital with one of the best neonatal units in the area. They were very used to seeing the exceptions, as they accepted many high risk moms. I was a very low risk pregnancy. So low I couldn’t even get an appointment with one of the doctors, I always saw a nurse practitioner. When I showed up having lost over half my amniotic fluid, the OB on call wanted to do a c-section right away. I really don’t know the severity of the situation, and whether she was right in recommending a c-section or if she was just so used to doing them. I should add at 36 weeks pregnant there was some additional risk with Bebop technically being premature. I’ve reflected quite a bit on the situation and I’m not sure if I was right to push for a natural birth or if they were right in wanting a c-section. I was very lucky to have no further complications or interventions. The scariest part of the whole experience was the lack of trust.
I Picked the Wrong Provider
The nurse practitioner that I saw was wonderful, but she didn’t deliver babies. I had the option to cycle through some of the other providers, but most of them also were never on call. I still don’t quite understand the set up. It was a huge practice with close to 20 providers for routine care. Only about 10 cycled through on call in labor and delivery regularly, with the specialists being called in when needed. As a patient, you didn’t get a choice who delivered. I probably could have pushed to only see the providers who would cycle through on call, but I didn’t. It would have been much better to meet the doctors ahead of time.
I Had Misplaced Expectations
During our childbirth classes, the instructor (who was the head nurse of labor and delivery) said SOME nurses liked to coach patients. They would try to match coaching nurses with patients who wanted a natural birth. I placed a lot of faith in this happening, but no such nurses were on call when Bebop was born. I cycled through 3 different shifts while in the hospital and was treated about the same throughout the day. The nurses would come in and check the monitors and leave. Jared and I were alone in a dark room for 10 hours while I was in labor. The nurse didn’t even believe me when I told her I felt like it was time to push. My understanding is that is normal and routine care, but it’s not what I expected. I had never bothered to ask what to expect.
I Didn’t Ask the Right Questions
I was so focused on having a natural, drug free delivery, that I never considered the possibility of needing intervention. I hadn’t thought about what I would do or what it would be like to have an induction. I completely objected to them. I didn’t even know all the extra things that come with having an epidural, because I never talked to the doctor about them. I was completely unprepared.
In the end, I had a beautiful, healthy baby boy weighing in at 6lbs 12oz. Bebop did not have any complications from an early birth. He didn’t even have to go to the NICU. The only characteristic of a premie that I remember is his sucking reflex was not fully developed. It was a challenge to get him interested in eating for the first few days.
I tell this story to remember and never again let myself be in such a position of fear because of my lack of preparation. If you are preparing for a natural birth, please consider all the things that could go wrong. Don’t ignore them and assume you will have an uncomplicated delivery. Don’t repeat my mistake.
This is the third post in a series of thoughts and reflections as I prepare for the birth of our third baby. You can find links to the rest of the series on the introduction post, Becoming a Family of Five.
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