As a newly minted mom of 2 for just three weeks now, I have already had so many new experiences that were different from when my first was born. One of the biggest differences was my labor and delivery, since I was induced with my son, and I went into labor naturally this time with my daughter. I was induced at 39 weeks with my son due to a heart arrhythmia (he was fine after delivery), and my daughter was born at 38 weeks 5 days, but funnily enough they were both exactly 7 pounds!
For the first time moms out there, or second time+ moms who may also be expecting a different delivery, here are some insights I've gained between my different deliveries.
I feel very lucky that I had a great experience with my induction. While some studies show that there's an increased risk of C section with induction, my OB was adamant that I deliver vaginally since that was a major factor in solving my son’s heart arrhythmia. The great thing about inductions is that once you go to the hospital, you're not leaving til you have a baby. It's also a much calmer experience because it's a lot of waiting around since you're laboring to get fully dilated. My husband and I ordered lunch early so I could get a last meal in, watched 2 movies, a bunch of Netflix, and set up our birth announcement. Pitocin is a real pain (literally--it makes your contractions hurt a lot!), but since I'm no martyr I got an epidural as soon as it became too much to handle. I wanted to tough it out as long as I could, but that only lasted til I was about 3 cm, ha! Even though I was 1 cm dilated before the induction, it took me about 24 hours to get to 10 cm. My labor nurse recommended that I get a push epi (an extra dosage before I started pushing), so even though I could still feel a contraction coming, it wasn’t that painful, and my son was born after about an hour of pushing. However, it took awhile for the epidural to wear off, and it felt like my legs had fallen asleep. I was also super swollen after delivery since I had been hooked up to an IV for so long. But in the end, everything thankfully went smoothly; we got there on a Thursday, I delivered on Friday, and we left the hospital on Saturday with our beautiful baby boy.
As a type A planner, one of the mentally hardest things about going into labor naturally is not knowing when the time would come. The induction was great because I had a hard date of going in and when to expect the baby. This time I had a sneaking suspicion that I would go early, but since I was induced with my first, I didn’t have a time frame to base my past experience on. To be safe, I made sure to stay busy up until 38 weeks, but kept my plans to a minimum the week of 39 weeks. Good thing I did, too! I went out for my last girl’s night on a Saturday, and late that evening into Sunday morning I started getting some contractions. I felt like a first time mom in a lot of ways because I didn’t know what to expect--I googled “what do contractions feel like” a dozen times since my pitocin ones weren’t “real” and I got an epidural for most so I didn’t really have to feel them. For me, in early labor they felt like bad period cramps that came and went. Since the pain wasn’t that bad, I waited all day Sunday for them to become more regular, and I also tried to do a self exam for dilation and thought I had reached 5 cm (turns out I was measuring my pelvic opening, not my cervix--oops!). We went in Sunday night but got sent home since I wasn’t in active labor, and then again Monday morning, even though I had been contracting all night and I was timing them to be 5 minutes apart and had eaten and drank something to make sure they weren’t a fluke. I think the most frustrating thing was being told that I wasn’t in labor--but what they really mean is that I wasn’t in ACTIVE labor. I was still in labor, because I was contracting regularly and they started to hurt a lot more, and most importantly I was dilating--but that was considered early labor (up to 3-4 cm). Honestly, do not minimize a woman’s pain and tell her she’s not in labor. Specifics count!
The second time we got sent home I was feeling so defeated. My husband and I went for a walk because we were told the baby wasn’t engaged yet--she needed to get her head “locked” in position for active labor to start. Getting this information from the midwife who saw me was so much more helpful in what to expect. Once the baby’s head is engaged, while doing a cervical check, the midwife wouldn’t be able to push her head out. She also said when you’re in true (i.e. active) labor, your world becomes much smaller and you don’t have time to think about other things because the time spent between contractions is you recovering from one, and preparing for the next one. I thought this information was much more helpful than the 5-1-1 rule. Towards the end of our 30 minute walk, my contractions became much more painful and closer together. We think we can pinpoint the time she became engaged because there was a longer wait time between contractions, and then all of a sudden they became much more painful and started to become closer to 4 minutes apart.
The first time we had walked to the hospital (about 5 blocks away from us), but this time we needed to call an uber. I couldn’t even walk to the front desk once we got there, and luckily there was someone waiting with a wheelchair. After getting checked at triage, it was confirmed that I was 5 cm dilated--and all I could think was why it was taking so long for me to get an epidural. My second thought was why I had to wait til it got to this point to get one--wasn’t the point of getting an epidural so I wouldn’t have to feel this much pain?! I could then see why it’s “too late” to get an epidural for some women who want one. Luckily the anesthesiologist was waiting for us when we got to the delivery room, and I had immediate relief. However, I didn’t get a push epi this time, and boy did I feel a lot more! Even though I only pushed for about 20 minutes, I actually felt like I wanted to give up at one point because she wasn’t coming out and I was so drained. I thought the contraction was there to do most of the work! When she finally came out, it had only been 3 hours from the time we checked in. The second time around was definitely faster!