As you may have gleaned from reading all three parts of Sadie’s birth story, it turned out that after all the initial concerns we had when I was admitted to the hospital, my labor and delivery turned out almost exactly as I’d hoped. The only things that did not follow my original “plan” (I sort of cringe at that word now, at least as it pertains to all things childbirth) were:
- I did not “Go into labor”…I had been in a state of pre-labor for weeks. As in, effacement and dilation were in full swing for quite some time. When I would tell people how dilated I was, many would say things like, “Wow, I labored for nine hours before I was that dilated!” I tried a couple of herbal supplements, and though I have no idea if any of my progress can be attributed to them, it didn’t seem to hurt. I started taking evening primrose oil and raspberry leaf at 36 weeks. I didn’t take much of the evening primrose (2 capsules orally…I tried the, um, other way and wasn’t a fan at all) because I’d effaced pretty easily on my own. I started drinking raspberry leaf tea, and then once I hit “full term” at 37 weeks, incorporated capsules as well.
The pre-labor portion of things was a little bit rough in the sense that I had about a billion Braxton-Hicks contractions a day (sometimes it felt like my whole day was one long BH) and Sadie was sitting so low on my pelvis that bending over was REALLY uncomfortable. I had my bloody show about 17 times it seemed, so I was constantly in a state of high alert, which was frustrating. That said, going into active labor with 60% of the work of dilation already done was a huge help.
But I did miss out on the experience of labor beginning spontaneously. Though it was done with a non-medicinal method, my water still had to be broken before my body would get the hint. Still, I feel very fortunate that given our circumstances, the intervention needed was minimal.
Perhaps NEXT time my water will break in line at Starbucks?
- I didn’t labor at home. I had hoped that I’d be able to get through the earlier stages of our labor at home. I pictured us relaxing, watching TV, breathing through contractions, etc. Instead, and quite abruptly, the whole process took place in one hospital room. To be completely honest, though, the whole thing progressed really quickly. The intensity of those contractions combined with my existing dilation would likely have sent me to the hospital within an hour anyway.
I am so, so thankful that I was able to have the delivery I hoped for. It was much more intense and yes, painful, than I expected. All of the breathing techniques and coping strategies we’d learned more or less went out the window in the first two hours. It was hard, but I did it.
As I write this, I think of all the mamas out there who were NOT able to have the birth they wanted. Please know that I am not unaware or insensitive to this—the truth is, whether it’s a natural vaginal delivery or an emergency cesarean, EVERY single birth is an absolute miracle, and EVERY mother essentially walks through fire in one way or another to bring her baby into this world.
As far as recovery goes, the first few hours were a little scary…though not at all abnormal. I felt a little pain, but it was easily managed by ibuprofen. I had a very small tear that I didn’t really notice…all in all, my body responded really well to labor this time around. HOWEVER: The bleeding. OH MY HEAVENS, the bleeding. They tell you it’s going to happen, and it’s frightening, but normal. Fine, whatever. But when it happens to you, you are pretty sure you are going to die. Or at least I did. At one point, I paged our nurse, called her into the bathroom with me and revealed to her that I was clearly hemorrhaging. She very politely and gracefully disagreed, and within a few hours, things seemed a little more manageable. Going home, I remained quite dependent on those delightful mesh underwear (my favorite nurse sent me home with quite the supply) and the maxi pads the size of my arm. Childbirth is so glamorous, you guys.
Now, seven weeks later (how?!) I have made a full recovery and feel back to normal, other than the stretch marks, loose skin, and fifteen remaining pounds. I’d gained 40 altogether, so you can imagine my astonishment to find that I hadn’t delivered a 30-lb baby. I’ve started exercising again, thanks to my husband and mom who watch the little princess for me a few times a week. I know losing baby weight is a process, especially when one is breastfeeding (that will be a whole different post, BTW) so I’m trying to be patient and take it slowly. In the meantime, I’m having my “ I JUST HAD A BABY SO BACK OFF” sign made as we speak.
So anyway, now that the horrors of labor and recovery have faded, the question I’ve been asked most is, “Would you do it again?” with the “it” being a natural labor/delivery. The short answer? Yes, I would. But the thing is, I have no idea what my next pregnancy will be like, or what circumstances will surround delivery. Giving birth to Sadie is the single greatest accomplishment of my life thus far—am I proud of it? Hell yeah. Would I have been just as proud if she’d been delivered with an epidural, cesarean, or by stork? You bet. So while I will certainly attempt another delivery like this one, I know not to plan for it. If/when God blesses us with another child that child will be blessing enough — however he or she gets here.
That is likely a way off, though. In the meantime, this one was worth every moment and then some.