The "Ready or Not" tag on this blog has perhaps never been more appropriate than today - my son's 4-month birthday - when I will divulge to you the answers to some frequently asked questions about my labor. The hair-raising nature of the blog is entirely dependent on your level of squeamishness. If you find blood, poop, or vaginas to be gross and/or offensive then let's face it - you probably stopped following my blog in the second trimester any way. For the rest of you, here we go, ready or not...
When/Where Did You Go Into Labor?
I didn't, I chose to be induced. At eight days past my original due date, I was still only 2 cm dilated and having no labor symptoms whatsoever. And not knowing when the baby would come wasn't exciting for me, it was torture. I don't do surprises; they completely stress me out. I had frequent panic attacks that last week. I almost hugged Dr. Fu at my 41-week appointment when she said I was a good candidate for inducement. With a fixed date on the calendar, Cam and I were able to enjoy a nice dinner and celebrate our last night as a childless couple. I felt like someone lifted an elephant off my chest. I know elective inducement is not without controversy, but I also know without a doubt it was the right decision for us.
Did You Have An Epidural?
No. I'm not opposed to them for any particular reason. I was open to one if I felt like I couldn't handle it anymore, but that moment never came thanks to Cam and my nurse, Alicia. Labor wasn't painful so much as really, really intense cramping and pressure in my lower back. Like the absolute worst menstrual cramps I've ever had. Alicia and Cam were both great at coaching me through the contractions and finding positions to relieve the pressure. Twenty hours of labor goes by quickly when you focus on just a few minutes at a time.
That's not to say I had no pain relief at all. My progress stalled around midnight after several hours of active labor; I was stuck at 9 cm and completely exhausted. So I asked for an injection of Stadol - an analgesic pain reliever added to my IV. It doesn't remove the feeling like an epidural, it just took the edge off for an hour or two so I could get some rest.
Did you poop?
Yes, and it wasn't a huge deal. Dr. Fu informed me calmly that I appeared to be passing a stool and asked me to focus my pushing on my rectum for a moment. Then it was scooped up and disposed of with minimal fuss, and I went back to pushing vaginally. Not that they feel incredibly different...
Here's what's more concerning to me than the poop itself: I was apparently so constipated that it took a Pitocin drip and 20 hours of labor to have a bowel movement. Think on that for a second.
What About An Episiotomy?
Yeah, but you know what? That also turned out not to be a huge deal. I was so focused on pushing that I didn't really care when Dr. Fu told me. I braced myself slightly, but honestly didn't feel a thing (Cam says ample amounts of a numbing medication were applied). Everything ended up healing just fine.
Did Your Husband Faint?
Nope, he was a rock star. I guarantee all this was much harder on him than it was on me, but he sat by my side and held my hand all night. I'm not even sure he went to the bathroom. So much happened that I wasn't really aware of, like the cord being wrapped around Owen's neck. Did you know that's actually really common? About 25-40% of babies are born with their cord around the neck, but since the baby is still getting its oxygen from the cord during labor and not the trachea, it looks more alarming than it really is. Cam says Dr. Fu just calmly unwrapped it; I didn't even find out until Owen was about 12 weeks old. More alarming than that - for Cam at least - was that Owen's arm was apparently "chicken-winged" behind his back when he came out.
Is He A Good Baby?
That's probably the most frequent thing I hear and honestly, what kind of question is that? How can you wake up to this beautiful face smiling at you every morning and think he's anything but perfect?
Thank you again for following along throughout my pregnancy. If you have questions about West Valley or pregnancy in general (or future blog ideas), don't hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.