My sweet girl hits the 4 month mark today. I thought time moved faster as you got older, time moves even faster after you have children. It's been the most joyous whirlwind. And I know it's just getting started.
While I was pregnant, I googled and googled everything before giving birth - on parenting, on labor and delivery, etc., etc., etc. Wanting to know what was in store for me, I read and watched everything I could get my hands on. A couple friends were so generous to share with me some tips prior to going into labor, so after giving birth and experiencing the first few months as a parent myself, I thought I'd share what I have learned.
In this first post I'm talking about the birth.
(Let's all acknowledge that when talking about childbirth it gets real TMI real quick - there's no way around it.)
Now that that's over.
For the delivery:
I have to say. I got really worked up over what ended up to be a very smooth, chill process. We think going into labor and giving birth is going to involve screaming, cussing, and utter chaos. As this may be the case for some, it was the exact opposite for us. I ended up choosing to deliver in a small town hospital. It wasn't the most glam of places, I didn't have mood lighting or anything, but I'm so extremely happy I ended going the route I did. There was only one other woman in labor so all the nurses on call were relaxed, accommodating, personable, and overly generous. I say this because giving birth really wasn't as scary as I thought it was going to be.
On to what I learned:
Do your own research. I labored for about 23 hours before I started pushing. Most of that time, I was experiencing back labor. I didn't read much about back labor before giving birth, so I wasn't aware that the epidural couldn't take away the pressure the back labor was causing and the pressure was greater than any pain I was feeling. We can sometimes get ourselves worked up over the "what ifs" but it's good to be informed so we're then able to best handle what comes our way.
Go in with an open mind. I read a lot about birth plans during my pregnancy. These days, those things can get pretty detailed. Going in, it's good to have a plan for things like having immediate skin-skin, but realize everything might not go according to plan.
And that's okay. Rest assured your baby will enter the world the way your baby was meant to. If you planned an intervention-free vaginal birth and end up getting an emergency C-section, it's okay. What matters is that your baby and you are happy and healthy.
Tell your husband how he can best be there for you. If you took child birthing classes, this is something you've probably already figured out. Everyone is different when managing pain. Some people like to talk and be distracted, others prefer to be left in silence, a few like to pace. I like to be left alone, so I can focus. During my pre-delivery reading, I read how most women best managed their pain by walking around during contractions. I was the opposite. I laid in bed and focused on my breathing every time a contraction came. In retrospect, I can't even imagine moving around with that kind of pain. In terms of the dynamic between my husband and me - all I wanted was for Tim to be present - offer a hand if I wanted one, get ice chips if I needed. Let your husband know how you best deal with pain and what he can do for you.
Remember to thank your husband. We ladies go through so, so much during labor and childbirth, but we have to remember that it's incredibly difficult to watch someone you love in pain. A "thank you" or an "I appreciate you getting those ice chips for me" can go a long way.
Think about pictures. This might be an obvious one, but it was something that I totally forgot about. Tim got a picture of me holding Ella, the nurses got a few of Tim giving Ella her first bath, but I didn't even think about getting one with the 3 of us. Come on, this is the last Kodak moment you want to forget.
You're stronger than you think you are. This is the biggest and most important thing I learned. Waiting to give birth to your first is probably one of the scariest things ever simply because we don't know what exactly is in store for us. But when it comes time, you'll rise to the challenge and realize you're stronger than you ever thought you were.
You don't need to prove anything by going au naturel. Epidural, no epidural. There's quite the debate surrounding this issue. I did a lot of research in deciding whether I should get an epidural or not. I read a lot of stories where many women had great experiences in getting epidurals. I ended up deciding 2 things. 1) I wanted to get half way (5-6 cm dilated) without getting the epidural because I wanted to try to limit how long I was on pain meds for and 2) If I needed rest, I'll get it. Looking back, I'd say this is a circumstantial issue. We went to the hospital around 6PM after I had been laboring for 16 hours or so. I had been eating consistently throughout the day to make sure I'd have energy, so I had a decent amount of energy when I was admitted around 7:00PM or so. As the contractions got more intense though, I was getting more and more tired. I needed to be rested to push, so I decided I'd get the epidural around 10/11PM. I went into active labor close 3AM and Ella was born after about a half hour of pushing. Be informed, do your research, ask questions, but if you want to get the epidural there is nothing wrong with that decision.
It's going to be okay. I cannot begin to list everything I read about labor. As someone who was petrified to go into labor, I can tell you it will be okay. Do what you can to prepare and then don't worry.
Thank you to those who were so kind to share their experiences with me! You were the ladies who gave me a little sense of peace. I hope I'm able to do the same for others.