I am so thankful for my three beautiful gifts from the Lord. They bring so much joy to our family along with the many frustrations ;). I’ll never forget the time that each of them were placed in my arms for the first time. I wanted to share a brief overview of each of my birth experiences as they were each very different.
Our first born is our sweet Caroline Grace. She was born in February a couple days after my 27th birthday. I didn’t really have strong opinions about how I wanted the birthing process to go other than I would rather not have a C-section if at all possible. I am a nurse, so I had a little experience with labor and delivery in nursing school. I got to be in on a couple births which were so amazing to witness! The births I witnessed in school were done with epidurals and went pretty smoothly, so I was thinking this might be a good route to take. I ended up being induced with Caroline for a couple reasons. Honestly, the reasons were not a medical necessity and I probably would not have chosen to be induced if I could go back and do it again. I had already started having contractions on and off with her and was dilated 3 and 1/2 centimeters, but I was not in active labor at this point. My OB offered to let me be induced on my due date if she had not come yet. I agreed because I was at that super uncomfortable end-of-pregnancy stage of “let’s get this baby out!”, and this would guarantee that this doctor would be the one delivering my baby which I wanted because he was the one I saw the most and I liked him best out of the doctors in the OB group.
I went for induction late morning on a Friday. I got my epidural and my doctor broke my water. The next several hours my husband and I waited with anticipation. Other than a longish wait, things were progressing smoothly–slow and steady until late evening; my epidural began wearing off and the pain was getting super intense! One of my best friends was visiting at this point and I couldn’t engage in the conversation anymore because the pain was getting so bad. The anesthesiologist came back and upped my dosage and the pain died back down. Shortly after this it was time to start pushing. The only thing was that my epidural was stronger now, and I could not feel a thing. I had wanted to still be able to feel when to push but it just didn’t work out that way. I started pushing around 1:00am and Caroline made her debut at 1:20am. I pushed really hard since I could not feel anything and I really wanted her out ASAP! My husband was such a great encourager during this process. When they put her on my chest and we saw each other for the first time, I thought she was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen! The miracle of life is so amazing! What an awesome God we have! They scooped her up from me kind of quickly because she was not crying and breathing well at first. The respiratory team came in and quickly got her crying and breathing, and she did not have anymore problems after that. While Caroline was getting cleaned up and after the placenta was out, I realized I was out of breath and getting stitched up. Apparently I had a fairly severe laceration (3rd degree out of 4 degrees). The recovery process of this tear was what I was not expecting. It was extremely difficult to get up and down for several weeks. When I coughed or sneezed or even laughed, I felt like my bottom was going to rip open. It was pretty painful the first couple weeks and quite discouraging, but after those first two weeks, I started to be able to move around better. Praise the Lord!
With baby number two, Weston Mark, things unraveled quite differently. With this one I knew I didn’t want to be induced. It was getting close to my due date and I was already 4 cm dilated at my latest doctor visit, but my contractions were not consistent yet. I carried him very low; I was constantly feeling pressure “down there” during my third trimester often feeling like he was going to fall out any time.
A couple days before Weston’s due date, my mom and I went on a long walk and my husband and I went on a date to an Italian restaurant that night where I ordered eggplant parmesan to try and get things going. I started having a few stronger contractions on the drive home but they died down once I got home and ready for bed. The next day when I got up and moving around, the contractions started coming back, but I didn’t feel like they were that bad yet. I ate lunch and ran an errand with my mom and sisters and the contractions started to get a bit more painful. I wasn’t sure if I should go in yet because they were not happening on a consistent every 5 minute basis. My mom encouraged me to go ahead and go in, so my husband, one of my sisters, and I got my bag and headed in.
When I got there and got checked, I was already 7 and 1/2 centimeters dilated! They got me in a room and I began to get excited that we would be having a baby very soon! In the back of my mind I thought it would be cool to have an all natural birth, but I hadn’t really planned on it. When the nurses said, “Are you sure you want to get the epidural? You are almost there..”, I thought well, I am feeling the pain, and it hurts, but it hasn’t been that bad, maybe I should skip the epidural this time. So I committed to going through all natural. Ummm….Wow! What was I thinking?! My nurse was really great at helping me through this experience and the labor went fairly quickly, BUT the pain was out of this world!! I was sitting in the bed at first, but the pain started to intensify and my nurse encouraged me to get up and move around to help with this.
I started off rocking in the rocking chair, then I sat on the birthing ball all the while things were progressively getting more intense. I had a moment while sitting on the birthing ball of “what have I done? why did I agree to this? I don’t know if I can handle it!”. The contractions were very intense and getting closer together. I decided to get in a warm bath to help with pain and help things progress. I was only in the bath a few minutes when I started feeling like I needed to poop! The nurse heard me say this and immediately called the doctor, it was time. The nurse asked me if I wanted a water birth and I was like “No!”. I quickly got out of the tub and back in the bed as my OB was walking in the door. When he checked me I was completely dilated and ready to go, but my water was still not broken. My doctor broke my water and I felt the urge to push right away. I felt so much pressure and I didn’t feel like I could do it, but my body just knew what to do and made me start pushing. The pain was crazy, but it only took 3 pushes and he was out! However, after his head was out, his shoulder got stuck on my pelvic bone, so the doctor had to do some kind of maneuver to help him get “unstuck”. I felt so much relief when he was out. When he came out and they put him on my chest, I thought he was so precious and looked just like my husband! He had some facial swelling, but he was just perfect. Now, he was bigger than his big sister Caroline was and did more damage on his way out. Unfortunately I suffered a fourth degree laceration (this means you rip front to back) with him and had to be stitched up in the OR! OUCH! This of course was a painful recovery too! It was a very emotional time and I wondered if I would ever be somewhat normal down there again! Thankfully my doctor did an excellent job fixing me up and with time I healed up very well. After this experience though, I was nervous about giving birth again. I wasn’t sure if my body could handle another severe laceration.
So then comes number three, Libby Joy! Even though she was my third, I was most nervous about giving birth to her for fear of tearing again. Leading up to her birth, I spoke with all the OB’s in the group about how to prevent tearing again. We had to come up with a plan because I could not go through that again! I also did a LOT of praying; after praying I would get a sense of peace from Him that it would be okay. A big part of my plan was doing these perineal stretches with olive oil toward the end of my pregnancy to help things get stretched out down there.
We went to the hospital on a Friday during a date night with my husband. We knew she would be coming soon, so my husband and I were trying to squeeze in one more date before her arrival. Well, my contractions started getting a bit intense at dinner, so we had the server box up our meals to-go so that we could go to the hospital.
When we got to the hospital, the contractions had died down a bit so I was sure they were going to send me home. But, when they checked me, I was 4 and 1/2 centimeters dilated and apparently I was still having contractions I just couldn’t feel them. They checked me in to a room and here we were again. This time I knew more of how I wanted things to play out.
First, my husband and I walked the halls trying to get labor to progress faster. My OB came in and checked me a couple hours later and I was 6 centimeters dilated. I was a little disappointed because I was hoping to progress faster than that. I had him go ahead and break my water and I walked around a little more. I decided to get in a warm bath again this time since that helped last time. It seemed to help me again because the contractions started feeling more intense. At this time, I decided to go ahead and ask for the epidural. My OB and I discussed that getting the epidural would be a good idea so that I could take things slow and not push baby out too fast and cause more tearing. My epidural was at just the right strength this time, because it took the edge off, but I could still feel a little bit. Less than 2 hours after I got my epidural, I started feeling pressure like it might be time to push. I told my nurse and after checking me, she immediately called my OB because it was time! I literally pushed one time and she was out! I could not believe it. Better yet, I only had a second degree tear which was a much easier recovery! The Lord answered my prayers and I could not have asked for a better birth experience! She was absolutely beautiful. Our hearts were so full.
I wanted to share some links on how to prevent tearing during delivery so you don’t have to experience what I did! There are different ideas about ways to prevent. You just have to decide what you are most comfortable doing.
Giving birth is not an easy thing but there is nothing like meeting that sweet new life for the first time. It melted my heart every time to see my husband with each of our children for the first time. I am excited to be an Aunt for the first time in a couple months! I can’t wait for this fun experience where I don’t have to do the birthing part ;).