Friday, February 7, 2014

Chief's Birth Story: Lessons Learned

Let me start by saying that we were able to deliver Chief safely, with no major health complications for her or me.  That means that the birth was successful, as far as we're concerned.

However, I recognize that things may have gone a bit smoother if we had been on our game a bit more.  If we'd had a doula, she could have helped keep us on track to better manage labor and respond to the doctor's suggestions.  At the same time, the fact that labor started with my water breaking sort of changes things; a clock started the moment that happened, and the longer time went on, the more everyone worried about infection.  Also, it's very possible that even if we had done things differently, we would have ended up with the same result- a very long labor and a very big tear.

In any case, here are things we maybe would do differently if we could do it all over again:

We probably went to the hospital too early.  The doctor had said to call after contractions were 5 minutes apart for 2 hours; we waited 4 hours.  Contractions were becoming more intense and I threw up, which meant I'd hit the physical signals that labor was progressing, but mentally and emotionally I was still in early labor.  I'm pretty sure that the car ride to the hospital is what caused my contractions to slow back down, stalling progress.

I should have eaten more, both at home and once we got to the hospital.  We had planned to bring a lunchbox full of Gatorade and snacks "for Mr. Geek," so he could sneak them to me when no one was looking- they won't let you eat once you get to the hospital in case you need to have surgery.  I didn't necessarily have an appetite at all once labor started, but I should have tried to eat more than just that tiny cup of yogurt early Saturday morning.  Throughout the pregnancy, I had been drinking a high-protein Ensure shake every morning for breakfast when morning sickness made solid food unappealing; I should have sipped on one in addition to the water I was chugging.  Spoonfulls of peanut butter, string cheese, crackers...any of these would have been a good idea.  More food would definitely have meant more throwing up, but in the meantime, it would have kept me fueled up longer, which may have prevented my need for an epidural.

I should have said no to the pitocin, or at least asked them to wait another hour or so.  I realize I was basically not progressing at all, and Mr. Geek was probably right when he said that they may have decided to just go for the c-section if we went much longer without progress, but the super intense contractions caused by the pitocin are what ultimately sent me into I-can't-do-this territory so quickly.

I shouldn't have asked for the epidural.  This is the big one.  Our team of nurses was incredible- when I told them I wanted to do this drug-free at the very beginning, they truly took that to heart and never once mentioned the epidural.  Once I got to the "I just want to die!" stage, I was kind of hoping that, like the pitocin, someone was going to say, "You know, you can have an epidural if you want..." and then if I'd accepted, I could just blame it on them for offering, instead of my own weakness.  But they never did suggest it- I had to ask for it, it had to be my idea.  At midnight, when my exam revealed that I was at 8cm, I should have changed my mind and not asked for the epidural.  I know my reasoning was that I felt like I was going to hyperventilate or pass out, but it was at least 2 hours after I said that to Mr. Geek before I even received the epidural, and I didn't do either.  Although I could still feel the contractions with the epidural, I couldn't necessarily feel Chief's progress.  Had I retained all sensation, I could have pushed more effectively and perhaps prevented myself from tearing quite so bad.

However, it took 4 more hours for me to reach 10cm after I asked for the epidural at midnight.  I was finally able to sleep, if only for a couple of hours, and I believe that rest is what finally opened me up all the way.  Without the epidural, it may have taken even longer to reach that point- which would mean fighting the urge to push for several more hours.  While I lasted about 2 more hours without passing out or hyperventilating, I may not have been able to last 5 or 6.  I'm willing to bet they would have insisted on surgery if I had passed out before it was time to push.  (But then again, maybe they wouldn't have...)  I do believe I made the right decision in asking for the epidural, but that doesn't prevent me from feeling somewhat like a failure.  Every time I think about it, I have to remind myself that Chief got here safely, and that's all that matters.

Would you have done anything differently with your first birth experience?  Did lessons from your first labor help you improve the experience the next time around?

Much love,
The Geeks


  1. I love your perspective, you did so good. I don't regret the epidural for myself at all, but everyone is different! So many people have said they wouldn't have gotten it in retrospect. You've inspired me to blog my birth story on my little blog I do sometimes lol.

    1. I'd love to read your story! And I'm still not sure how I feel about the epidural. Part of me feels guilty for caving in, but the more Mr. Geek and I talk about it, the more I think it was the right decision. It's just been hard for me to accept, since I worked so hard to avoid it.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I find it so interesting (and emotional) reading about your experience - giving birth is something i'm extremely nervous about, and i'm not even expecting yet! Really enjoying seeing your posts again, welcome back after the well deserved rest!

    1. Thank you so much! Nerves are healthy, but it's actually not scary, especially if you do your homework. So glad you're reading along- I hope I can keep you entertained!