August 2019: My Labor Story
I took a 4 month break from writing because I was blessed with giving birth to my little boy 3 weeks earlier than expected. I honestly didn’t place any expectations on how my actual birth would go other than knowing that I wanted to greet my little one with as much calm as I could. Would I be able to stay calm or would the pain of labor take over any calmness and completely derail my intent? I did not make hard statements like, “I won’t take an epidural or I will only breastfeed.” I just said to anyone that asked if I had a birthing plan that I would try to do what I could as best I could and see what happens.
The other day, someone asked me about labor and how scary was it or if it was really bad because no one really talks about it. It’s true: not many people talk about the details of birth because it is such a personal thing. I did tell her my story to shed some light on things and granted, I went into some more details with this friend than I will on a piece of paper, but this is a summary of my birthing experience in hopes that it eases and answers some questions for those who are curious.
As it turns out, my water broke at work and I wasn’t completely sure it was my water at first or if my son had just decided to put his entire weight on my bladder. I didn’t assume anything, and being of this uncertainty, I approached everything calmly. Over the phone, the doctor told me I had to go right to the hospital and I responded that I needed to first take care of my pup (my first child) before I could go to the hospital. She agreed to this, but told me to not linger at home to do anything else.
So, after I finished up something I was in the middle of, I let my colleague know what was going on. He responded very excitedly, “What can I do for you?” to which I responded almost laughing- I just really need a diaper at this point because my pants are soaking wet. Again, I informed someone else at work I had to leave for the hospital and was told again, “Wow, you’re so calm!” Surprisingly, I honestly did feel very peaceful and calm.
My colleague helped me into an Uber and I did as the doctor requested: after taking care of my pup, I grabbed the first taxi I saw to NYU hospital. The doctor quickly confirmed my water broke but because I was not yet feeling contractions, they would have to induce me.
As a preparation for the intensity of labor, I had done prenatal pilates twice a week throughout my entire pregnancy, spoke with a friend who hypnobirthed, and I studied how people breathe when they do hypnobirthing. Epidural or not, ultimately the goal for me was to stay comfortable and calm during the most painful and difficult moments of labor while still being safe for the baby and myself. This helped me be less scared about childbirth. As I walked into the hospital, I tried to think about this approach.
However, after laboring all night with an IV of Pitocin and a balloon that is put in the cervix to induce labor, I had what they call a “failed induction.” My body would not dilate past 5cm. Therefore, I had to have a C-section. The entire night laboring was uncomfortable and at times very painful. The balloon was especially uncomfortable, but I was somehow able to breath through the surges of contractions with no epidural. I wasn’t trying to be any superhero by not taking an epidural, but because of the induction meds, they were not able to measure my progress and if they couldn’t tell me how much I was dilated, I didn’t want an epidural.
Despite the pain all night of laboring, I really did stay calm, and while the C-section was definitely not fun, they got my baby boy out safe and sound.
Labor always seems so scary because it is the unknown, but as my friend who has a number of children has reminded me multiple times: “Your body knows what to do; let it do its job. Trust it.” Once again, the universe has taught me a very large lesson in going with the flow and placing trust in yourself that you can get through the surges in labor and in life.
P.S.I typed half of this newsletter with one hand as my infant slept on top of me and the other half the next day while feeding him with one hand and typing with the other. We must all figure out how to make things work for our different lifestyles. Its my new normal and it isn’t always easy, but I am blessed.