Let me preface everything by stating that I feel like I had a stellar birth experience. I seriously *heart* everyone in the labor & delivery ward at my hospital. Most things went according to plan. Healthy boy? Check. Powering through without the epidural? Check.
From the day I announced that I was pregnant, my husband announced he would not be taking part in any of the delivery. He agreed to drop me off at the hospital and come back in three days to pick me up if I could not find a ride home on my own. This is what he told EVERYONE for 9 months!!! Sometimes he would say he’d wait for me to bring him his heir in the waiting room while smoking cigars, but then I’d remind him we were having a girl and of the hospital’s “no smoking” policy and he’d go back to his original plan of dropping me off…or calling an Uber for me. Don’t start sending me hate mail just yet. Of course this was all in jest.
Before our baby’s arrival we took a Baby Care Basics class in which we learned how to swaddle, diaper, bathe, and care for our baby. My dear husband (DH) thought this was unnecessary, but I wanted to be fully prepared. They gave us a brief rundown of what would happen in the hospital as soon as the baby was born so we would know what to expect. I don’t remember everything the lady said exactly, mainly, because I got hung up when she said our baby may come out with feathers and a cottage cheese-like substance all over her. I will get to that later, but eww, gross! DH was already weary about being in the delivery room (read above) and now he was convinced that there would be bad smells and did not want to be a part of it. I assured him there was nothing to worry about, but he told me he’d keep a “smell log” while we were at the hospital, nonetheless, to prove me wrong. Like any good marriage, we spend the majority of our time trying to prove each other wrong. The following is my account of the labor and delivery with my husband’s “smell log” mixed in. I do not remember a single smell, but then again the memory of all the pain is slipping by me more and more every day.
We arrived at the hospital around 7AM on Saturday, January 16, 2016. Contractions started the night before and progressed into the morning. We waited until they were 5 minutes apart just like the doctor told me. I was so excited when we got to the hospital; I was sure the baby would be here shortly. The nurse did a quick check to see how far a long I was. I was only 1 cm! What??? Bummer! They did not send me home though, luckily, because I was leaking amniotic fluid and the risk of infection is higher. Whew! Now it is only a matter of time.
Once I was admitted and settled into my room the nurse asked about my birth plan. I let her know that I was going to do this drug free. My dear friend Claire did it without an epidural so I figured I could too. I’m a brave girl! Plus I read a blog about how you can make childbirth easier by doing 300 squats a day. I did about 300 squats total over the last 3 years so I was basically ready. I mainly had a fear that if I did want the epidural it would not work well on me since I am a redhead and I have had trouble with analgesics in the past. It is a redhead thing, don’t laugh at me. If you don’t believe me you can look it up. It is science based I promise. Anyways, I was going to do this drug free. The nurse wrote it on the board and my husband’s only job was to keep me from asking for an epidural.
I was not in extreme pain at first (DH will tell you I don’t know how a pain scale works), but I was definitely uncomfortable and the contractions were getting worse each hour. After 4 hours, the doctor arrived to check on me. Still 1 cm!!! OH MY GOD, WE WILL BE HERE ALL WEEKEND AT THIS RATE! The doctor was probably thinking the same thing because he started me on Pitocin to speed up the process. Within minutes of receiving the Pitocin my contractions increased tenfold. “¡Ay, caramba!” It took everything I had in me to not immediately start crying. I used the breathing techniques the nurse showed me, which helped a little, but not really. I tried to get into a different position and lay on my side. As I rolled in the bed, I heard a loud “pop” and felt the rush of my water breaking. I made my husband bring me a towel and help me to the bathroom to get cleaned up. He came over to the bed with a pad of paper and pen like a goddamn reporter. This is where his “smell log” began.
“12:11PM Jan 16th 2016: Leaked on towel, smells like chicken and wild rice soup from Panera, mixed with warm cleaning products”
“12:26PM Jan 16th 2016: Wife jams towel between her legs and covers her mouth and nose, presumably to stop the smell from nauseating her”
At this point (1 hour after Pitocin) the contractions were so painful that I honestly thought I was going to pass out. I was crying like a baby and begging my husband to get the nurse. I was positive I was fully dilated and about to give birth…I just had to be with that kind of pain. Right?!?!
“1:15PM Jan 16th 2016: Wife taps out and asks for drugs. Thinks baby is coming out, only 2 cms dilated”
“1:25PM Jan 16th 2016: Doctor stifles laughter when he hears how far along wife is when she asks for epidural”
DH made sure to steal my phone during all of this and text Claire the good news (that I gave up and asked for an epidural). He is so sweet!
“2:19PM Jan 16th 2016: Moaning has subsided while desire for Subway sandwich grow. Still unsure how pain scale works.”
The epidural was the best decision I could have made. It calmed me down and I was able to rest while I became more dilated. There is no way I would have had the strength to push if I had not received the epidural.
“4:10PM Jan 16th 2016: Fully dilated. Thinks she’s done something to move birth along. Misguided”
“5:05PM Jan 16th 2016: Pushing starts. Room begins to smell of a mix of sweat and vaginal mucus. Urine is sprayed everywhere when securing catheter bag.”
They have to take you off the epidural once you are ready to deliver so you can feel when to push. Luckily the effects of the epidural linger for a bit so it is not so bad at first. If you are lucky your baby will slide right out and you won’t have to push for very long. If you are unlucky, you may have to push for several hours. I was unlucky. After pushing with every contraction for 2.5 hours, I was toast and the baby’s head was still not out. The Doc ended up using a vacuum to get her head out. I didn’t care what he used; I just wanted it to be over.
As soon as the head came out, to my husband’s surprise, the Doc told him to pull her out. It was one of the greatest moments watching my husband raise our daughter up over my legs, but also horrifically frightening. I was not expecting her to look the way she did. There was nothing cute about her. She looked like an alien and was covered in slime. Remember that cheese-like substance I mentioned in the beginning? (It is called vernix and it is completely normal; it protects the baby’s skin while in the amniotic fluid.)
They laid her on me and I cried, not from joy, but from disappointment. I was afraid I gave my baby this awful cone head because I could not push her out on my own. Babies’ heads are cone shaped at birth due to passing through the birth canal, but my daughter’s head was 100x worse because of the vacuum. You could see where the suction cup was on her head!! I was freaking out! I asked the doctor repeatedly if her head would ever be normal. He definitely laughed out loud at me and told me she’d look more normal in a few hours. I, of course, did not believe him. I was so worried and upset. One of the nurses saw that I was getting upset over this and threw a cap over her head and quickly cleaned her up for me. Her head did go down after a while and is a completely normal shape now. She also is no longer slimey, except when she drools. She is a beautiful baby and I love every piece of her. I think she is one of the cutest babies ever, but then again I am biased.
As for my husband’s “smell log,” I think we can all agree it is a bunch of BS. There were no significant or memorable smells to ward off fathers from delivery rooms. The nurses and hospital staff do a fantastic job of caring for you and cleaning up anything you may expel. Smells are definitely not something I’d recommend you concern yourself with. I’d be more worried about the alien being that will emerge from your loins. Prepare yourself for that. They don’t show you that in the movies.
I’d like to begin by blaming Mallory. She’s the instigator in this whole blog thing. She said to me, “Claire, all the other moms are doing it, why not us?”
She is the cool mom, so I’m very susceptible to her peer pressure. But, yeah, why not US?
Mother’s Day was this past weekend and it got me thinking about motherhood and the type of mom I want to be. Of course I want to be a great mom, but what does that entail? Do I need to be strict? Should I only breastfeed? Will my kid miss out if she does or doesn’t go to daycare? How do I avoid being the reason for future therapy sessions? Should I just start saving for it now?