After! I love you, Peter!As many of you know from one of my previous posts, I had been preparing to have a natural childbirth. While everything didn't go exactly as I had planned, I'm very happy about the way my labor turned out. It was the most intense physical experience of my life, and I still don't know how to describe the emotional impact, 6 weeks later. In order to maintain authenticity, you may find this post graphic at times - you've been forewarned!
I started having contractions the morning of my due date, which I spoke about in my 40 week update. The whole weekend before I was feeling a little off, especially Sunday night. Contractions began around 1am Monday, April 14th, but didn't get too intense until late afternoon. I tried to sleep and eat but in retrospect, I didn't take care of myself the way I should have.
We went to the hospital around midnight. It was a wild night - the day had been hot, almost 75 degrees, and when we got to the hospital, they informed us that their air conditioning had broken down earlier that day, so the air was thick. The hospital was also pretty busy that night, whether it was due to the full moon & lunar eclipse that night, who knows! ;)
I was 4cm dilated at my first exam. Then my contractions became much more intense. I tried my relaxation and breathing techniques with my wonderful husband coaching me, but I was so exhausted that I kept falling asleep in between contractions. Startled awake, I couldn't focus enough to get control of my body. At my second exam a few hours later, I had only progressed to 5cm. Around 7am, the pain and lack of control was so unbearable that I asked for an epidural.
As the anethesiologist entered the room, I began to cry. I never cry in front of strangers, but I felt so disappointed in myself. I knew intellectually that all I had to do was get control over my body, but I could not physically do it. I didn't know how I was going to make it through the pushing stage if I was so exhausted already.
Within 10 minutes of getting the epidural, all of my disappoint vanished and I knew in my bones that I had made the right decision. I smiled again for the first time in several hours, and I could actually have a conversation. That morning, I slept for three blissful hours. I finally had a chance to recharge my batteries.
In the early afternoon, I had another exam and was told that I was 10cm dilated. I couldn't feel the contractions or my legs, so I just took their word for it! (By the way, not being able to feel my legs was completely freaky.) The doctor came in shortly after and asked me to try pushing. Well, I had no feeling, so my pushing was for nothing. I had to wait almost 3 hours for my epidural to wear off before I could push!
When it was time to push, I felt that pain coming back and I started to get anxious. I didn't want to feel pain anymore! Looking back, I'm grateful that I was able to feel enough to instinctively push. But because my labor at that point had been over 25 hours (with contractions starting over 39 hours prior), I don't think anyone expected that this phase of labor would go so quickly for me. My husband kept bugging the nurse to come in, and she was slowly making her way. I was thinking, "this baby is coming, where is everyone?!" It only took about 10 minutes, and the doctor almost didn't make it! He rushed in and quickly put on his gloves, and my little man was born just a few minutes later. I'm definitely lucky in this respect - some women push for a couple hours.
After Peter was born, I was in complete shock. My body was in so much pain after being numb for several hours, and I had a strange feeling because my belly was gone. And sorry if this is TMI, but the stitches were the most difficult part for me emotionally - I had so much anxiety in those few minutes and couldn't truly enjoy holding my son.
Soon after Peter arrived, a lactation consultant arrived to assist me with my first breastfeeding session, but I was so in shock that I just couldn't handle it. So we were transferred upstairs to the Maternity ward (where it was even hotter!). My husband went across the street to the Whole Foods and got me a huge plate of mac n cheese, my first meal in over 24 hours. It was so delicious and I was so ravenous that I basically inhaled it!
We had a great nurse that was very helpful with recovery & nursing advice throughout the night, but it was anything but easy. I'll do another post on that later. Essentially, it was the craziest experience of my life and much more intense that I could have possibly prepared for, but looking back, I wouldn't do anything different. I'm so grateful that I was able to forgive myself so quickly for getting the epidural, because I truly believe it allowed me to have a significantly better birthing experience.
I hope my story is helpful and not fear inducing to those of you that are still pregnant. It's such an intense experience that you can't prepare for or understand until you go through it. I finally see that. Despite it all, I definitely would do it again! I love my little man! Becoming a mom has enabled me to roll with the punches better.
I love connecting with other mamas! Please share your labor stories with me! Also, coming up I'll have posts on Peter's first week home, my nursing experience, and more updates on my baby! For more photos of little Peter, be sure to follow me on Instagram!
xo kristen genevieve