I think it’s important to document this, because soon I will forget it, and not enough people really share these stories.
As you know, I had a condition. I had too much amniotic fluid, which meant I was measuring as a woman carrying twins or triplets might be measuring, and my child was living in a spacious pool. This condition also made it so that I was contracting for literally almost two months, maybe more. The last two months the contractions were most intense. So every night, for two months, after cleaning up, I thought I was going into labor.
And to confirm I was indeed having contractions, when I fell in the parking lot that day while chasing down a shopping cart and I went into Labor and Delivery at the hospital for monitoring, they shared I was contracting on the monitor. But my cervix wasn’t dilated, so the baby wasn’t coming out, I was just contracting. The two month+ contractions weren’t in my mind. They were real.
In addition to the condition, I had Instagram, which is a social media platform that was feeding me lots of helpful labor and newborn content. One of the popular trends is natural laboring, where you labor at home as much as possible before going in. You do pelvic exercises, you stretch, you are calm and creating the most natural, soothing environment to birth your beautiful baby, without medical interventions. And several posts on Instagram told me that epidurals numb the pain and slow down the process, so you need pitocin to apply pressure to the baby, and it’s all a vicious cycle. I pride myself on valuing science, but in this case it all made sense, so I bought into this, knowing that if I needed to have a C-Section I would obviously listen to my doctor’s advice after pushing back a little.
I was scheduled for induction a little after 39 weeks. I wanted to be induced sooner, because being very pregnant with a toddler is hard, but between the pitocin shortage and the holiday, the hospital wasn’t scheduling anything before 39 weeks.
My water burst a little after 38 weeks.
On Saturday morning I made a whimsical Instagram reel, which had ample room for improvement, but I didn’t have the time to edit it and thought it was good enough. Also dancing for the reel caused another contraction, so I needed to stop production. Saturday afternoon I took my daughter to her language class, then we cleaned the house and had company who left around 8:30pm. At 9:30pm, as David was putting our daughter to bed, I was in the bathroom to pee and then crawl into bed, because I was so tired, when my water BURST! It BURST! I thought my doctor was joking when he said it would pop like a balloon, but it truly did that! Water gushed out, luckily into the toilet. I shrieked from surprise, and then I called David from the toilet to tell him what had happened.
Then I called the Ob’s office, and the answering service person, who may or may not have been a nurse, listened to me describe what happened, and she said, “Your water broke all right, congratulations!” Then she asked if I was having contractions, and actually, at the time, I wasn’t. She said someone would call me back. I took a shower, called my sister and asked her to get ready, ran around and added some things to the hospital bag. David told our daughter someone was coming and she would have to be brave (she doesn’t like sleeping alone). And then we waited for two hours for the hospital to call me back while I “labored at home” and my contractions started. So here’s the thing: as I stood around talking to my sister, more water gushed out, and I had to run to the toilet. Then as I was sitting on the medicine ball, to labor at home, more water gushed out. We were just cleaning up fluid for an hour. Doing all the exercises and stretches were completely out of the question.
I called the doctor’s office back, because no one had called us back, and within 15 minutes my doctor called me sleepily and said she was on the way to meet me at the hospital. And I asked, “Oh should I go?” and she was pretty shocked I wasn’t already on the way because I needed to be checked. At the hospital, the nurse asked if the doctor wanted them to see if I had “ruptured” and my doctor said, “There’s no need – she’s OBVIOUSLY ruptured.” This made me laugh for some reason.
Anyway, I was dilated and my contractions were only 5 minutes apart, and they asked if I wanted my epidural. At this point, all the Instagram propaganda starts speaking for me, and I am debating declining or postponing an epidural. David looks at me like I am crazy, and the doctor and nurse look at each other as well. I’ve been working through contractions for months though, and I think I can do it. I can do the natural birth. Ten minutes later I feel a real contraction that leaves me breathless, and I ask how soon I can get the epidural. They tell me an hour! I tell them that is “perfect” but really I want it immediately.
Soon after the epidural, my doctor tells me my cervix is not dilated enough, and they need to put me on low dose pitocin for the rest of the night. My Instagram brain is crushed. I ask if the pitocin bothers the baby, and the nurse explains that it does not. It just helps the cervix dilate. This isn’t want Instagram told me, but I have the sense to not say that out loud, and I accept the pitocin. BUT I do not turn the epidural up. So I was in so much pain I did not sleep from 2:30am – 8am. I was fully dilated by 9am and when they came in excited to start pushing, I was exhausted. “Second baby? This will be 20 minutes!” It was two hours, I turned the epidural all the way up and used the whole bag, I threw up multiple times, and for the final push they used a vacuum. I was physically spent and mentally preparing for a C-section, but I also did not want to have labored AND done the C-section. He came out blue with the cord around his neck twice and he did not cry, so David and I almost started crying, and then we heard him cry. David shared he knew we were close to him coming out because the room fills up with nurses ready to take the baby. It’s amazing.
The nurse shared I had a Level 3 tear, and I said, “That’s not so bad!” and she said 4 is the worst. I feel labor pain every time I pass gas or poop. That’s a level 3 tear. The doctor said it was good my water broke early, because he would have been too big for a vaginal birth on the induction date, but I think we wouldn’t have known until we were trying to push him out.
Some important takeaways:
- It’s okay to get an epidural and pitocin.
- Don’t take medical advice from Instagram.
This post is really more for me to remember. Ice packs and witch hazel were so helpful the first few days.
Also we are all in love. Raising a kid is so much more work and love than birthing one, but as we groan when our moms call us to talk or check in, it’s important to remember that we probably permanently destroyed their bodies, so the least we can do is talk to them.