So I was that girl that went into the hospital (twice!) thinking I was in labor only to be sent back home both times. Having a child at home, going into the hospital is no simple feat. We had to call and wake friends and family in the middle of the night to come over (bags packed to sleep over) and stay with A. My mom, who was on a trip with friends in Korea cut her vacation short to come to Chicago a week early when I told her of my contractions (despite my pleas not to come early). How could I not feel like the boy who cried wolf?
The truth is…I was terrified and it was my friend S that did it. She had her son (her 2nd also) a few weeks before I started feeling contractions. She said the contractions were mild and then, all of a sudden in a matter of minutes, they were coming so quickly and painfully. She rushed to the hospital (after a pit stop to the gas station..can you believe they were out of gas??) and was pronounced 10 cm dilated with no time for an epidural. The entire labor took 3-4 hours! Our hospital was a good 20 minutes away and I was terrified of getting there too late. I admit I’m a huge wimp and never considered laboring without the epidural. It was actually a huge fear of mine!
So…starting at 38 weeks, I started feeling contractions. They weren’t painful but they were pretty regular. There would be nights when they would be 4-5 minutes apart for 2 hours straight. Then the next day, the contractions would be more sporadic and all over the place. This went on for 2 weeks and it was extremely frustrating and confusing. Also, I felt so much pressure that I hadn’t felt with A even at 40 weeks, which made me think even more that I was close.
The first time I went to the hospital, I wasn’t dilated at all. The very next day, I had my regular doctors appointment and I was now 2-3 cm dilated. Again, confusing! I thought I dilated so quickly overnight so I would probably continue to progress quickly. I was wrong. I stayed 2-3 cm for 2 weeks until I finally begged to be induced.
On Monday, 10/24, we arrived at the hospital at 7 pm. I was still only 2-3 cm dilated. The nurse assigned to me was so sweet but new and inexperienced. She didn’t know how to turn on the contraction tracking machine and her hands would shake a lot. She had to keep paging another nurse to ask for help. It was far from comforting to be under her care. When it came time to put my IV in, it took her and another nurse 3 tries to get it in properly. My left arm, where they made the first 2 attempts was so swollen, painful and badly bruised for weeks afterward. When the newbie nurse’s shift ended at 9 pm, I think I bid her farewell a little too enthusiastically. My new nurse was much older, very experienced and had a soothing tone to her voice. I started to relax. They started me on pitocin and the contractions began shortly after. They weren’t painful for the first couple of hours but around 11 pm, I started to feel more pressure and pain. Not unbearable by any means but definitely getting more intense. I told the nurse I would want the epidural soon but not quite yet. At midnight, she came back with the anesthesiologist and I was glad. After the drugs kicked in, I was completely numb from the waist down and no longer feeling the contractions, I was able to rest. Hubbie and I both slept from midnight till around 5:30 am except for when the doctors came to check on how I was progressing. At around 5:45 am, they checked me and I was fully dilated at 10 cm. Yay! But then we had to wait for my doctor to get in. She finally arrived a little after 6. The nurses tried to put my legs on the stirrups but they just flopped down. So much for being modest. I was completely numb and couldn’t feel a thing. People always worry that they won’t know how to push if they’re numb but with both A and D, I couldn’t feel a thing but somehow managed to push them out quickly. I pushed through 3 contractions and around 8 minutes with D.
When she came out, I remember my doctor saying “woah she’s big!” as they put her on my chest. I felt so overwhelmed as I held her repeating “oh my gosh oh my gosh” over and over again. I was tearing up as I held her and examined her face.
I should explain. When A was born, she was rushed to the NICU right away. I never got to hold her or even look at her until hours later. When we finally were able to visit her in NICU, she was in an incubator with an IV and all kinds of needles poking her. It was completely heartbreaking and terrifying. I remember standing outside of her incubator and just bawling my eyes out while holding her little hands. She was born with a little pocket of air in one of her lungs but apparently it’s pretty common and usually closes up on it’s own, which is what happened with A. But they had to keep her and monitor her until it closed up. So anyway, I never got to experience that traditional first meeting with your infant when I had A.
So going back to D, it was absolutely perfect. After I had a few moments with her, the nurses took her to the side of the room to do their tests. They were like “let’s guess how much she weighs” and one of the nurses said 8 lbs and Hubbie and I laughed as in “yeah right!”. A was 7 lbs, 6 oz and I was expecting something similar. Then, they announced “8 lbs, 6 oz”! We were shocked! Then, my doctor said if I have a third and it’s a boy, it might be over 9 lbs! Yikes!
After they finished up, they brought D over to me swaddled and I was able to nurse right away for almost an hour. I was so proud of D for latching right away and it was such an amazing bonding experience. Another thing I missed out on with A.
My doctor said that most people labor similarly for all their children and she was right. My water didn’t break for both, I labored for about 8-10 hours for both, and I pushed for a short amount of time (8 mins and 22 mins) for both. I’m so thankful that I’ve had easy labors without complications and that I have 2 beautiful, healthy girls. Sorry this was such a long post. I’m seriously impressed if anyone read through this whole thing!
For those of you with children, I’d love to hear your labor story even if it’s just the cliff notes version! If you don’t have children, what do you fear most when you think about labor?