I have to admit, I spent the weekend alternating between strong anxiety and waxing philosophic (with a sentimental bend). The two images from the weekend that I wanted to remember as being related to Felicity's birth: the leaves really started to change color, (tufts of red and yellow amongst the green of hawk ridge), and the sunflowers in my mom's garden in full bloom.
Sunday evening. The moment had arrived. I put Benjamin to bed and DH&I headed to the hospital (leaving MIL&FIL at our house). We arrived at the hospital around 7:30pm and got all checked in. They checked my cervix and I was at 2.75cm - I had progressed quite a bit since my last appointment! That was very promising for a successful induction. My midwife came in and placed a Foley bulb. Normally, the Foley just is meant to prep the cervix and help dilation, but it made me start contracting. I had really regular contractions for about two hours and we were hopeful my body would take over, but they died off and changed to just cramping around midnight and I tried to get some sleep. (As a side note, they offer/promoted the Foley as an out patient procedure. I can't imagine doing this. It was incredibly uncomfortable/awkward having it in at the hospital, and it made me bleed. Going home would have been a disaster).
In the morning I had a small breakfast, then they removed the Foley and started a pitocin IV. I was at 4cm.They started the dose really low, and came in every half hour to up it. It took a long time for anything to start. Finally I started to get some mild contractions around 11am, but still so mild and inconsistent. I say in a yoga ball and watched a movie. The contractions intensified around 1pm to the degree where it actually felt like labor (strong and regular), and then continued to worsen quickly. At 3pm I moved from the yoga ball to the bed and they checked me again. I was starting too try and figure out if I could really go "natural" because the pain was significant. I was at 6.5cm, just shy of my 7cm mental goal, so I hung on and continued without meds.
The nurses kept saying it would be soon now, and then backing off. Well, they should have been more confident. After that things really went fast. Soon I was in extremely intense contractions that felt like I couldn't continue to endure. After a really intense contraction I felt the baby move, which seemed odd, but she must have slipped the rest of the way into position because at the next contraction I felt the pressure to push. The nurse checked me, I was 9.5, just a rim, and ready to push. She called the doctor and they started to take apart the bed for labor. Those 2-3 contractions were the worst, all this pain/energy and not able to push yet (it's called transition and it's notorious). Then they said to go ahead and push as I felt the need. I pushed on my own once or twice. She was right there. The doctor said I was tearing, likely in the same place as Benjamin's birth (which was not pretty). The doctor wanted to do an episiotomy and I wasn't going to object, I just wanted to be done. I pushed 3-4 contractions (which were very close together), the first two they told me to push gently because the episiotomy, then I pushed hard for two, and Felicity came right out! They plopped her on my stomach, she started crying right away.
She was perfect. The nurses could not find anything to mark her down for, even her fingers were nice and pink, so she was given an apgar score of 10 (despite the nicu unit having been called in, they wetter wrong about the meconium). The nurse said she hadn't given a ten in years. I held her on my chest while they delayed the cord clamping, then I watched the doctor cut the cord and I scooped her up. It was an incredible experience, and surreal because how fast we went from me feeling the pressure to push to holding her in my arms (really, an hour from 6.5 cm, can I do this to holding her in my arms).
She cried for quite some time, and didn't calm until DH held her for a few minutes. Then he handed her back to me and I breastfed. DH started calling people and the room slowly cleared out. Eventually the nurse measured her - 7lbs, 13oz, 22 inches long!! Tall baby. Our baby, our love!!
I assume it is natural to compare birth experiences between children. DH claims some of the differences a perceive are due to recall, but here it is anyways.
The biggest obvious difference was that with Ben I went on my own, this time I was induced using pitocin, a drug that mimics oxytocin and is labeled as "the devil" by many women due to the intensity of contractions it can cause.
Benjamin (no meds) ----- Felicity (pitocin)
Labor was 10-20 hrs depending. Labor was 3-6 hrs, depending.
I pushed for 2+ hrs. I pushed for 15-20 minutes
No epidural/pain meds. No epidural/pain meds
I tore naturally, second degree. Episiotomy, degree unknown.
Contractions intensified slowly. Contractions intensified very quickly.
I was "trance like" and hardly knew time I was very aware of surroundings and time.
Mentally, I felt like this is what my body Mentally, I didn't trust the process, I felt
was doing and I trusted it and needed like my pain was being caused by the
to just accept/get through it. IV, could be stopped, and might not be working.
I had limited monitoring. I was more free They were constantly monitoring and
to move around. No monitors to watch. fiddling around with my cords.
When he was born, I didn't really feel it. I felt her slide out very distinctively and
and had to be told it was done. I was knew I was done. I was much more
on auto pilot to push. aware and present.
They whisked him across the room to be They plopped her on my chest still attached
Stitches & placenta delivery were extremely Stitches & placenta delivery were quick
painful. Maybe the worst part. and relatively painless (twinges).
I bled more post partum then they wanted I bled more post partum then they wanted
and had to remain on meds. and had to remain on meds.
I stayed in the hospital 2 nights with baby, I stayed in the hospital for the minimum 24 hrs,
by choice. by choice.
Three weeks after delivery I still had Three weeks after delivery and pretty much
muscle/skeletal pain and pain due feel great. No muscle/skeletal pain and
stitches. Short standing tolerance. very very occasional twinge from stitches
Normal tolerance for standing.
So... Basically what I am saying... is this birth was easier in many ways. It went faster, and contrary to my research and preconceived notions, the episiotomy has made for a MUCH easier recovery than the tear did. I am glad I listened to my doctors on that one... I think it really depends on the person. In my case, w the history of a bad tear, the episiotomy made sense. Also, a smooth induction has its strengths, so fast! I think my nurse who was managing the pitocin was great, she got it right. Despite the intensity of contractions, I never had them one after another as you hear about in the Pitocin horror stories. And it was so nice having the baby born at 4pm instead of 2am. I really think the shorter labor is why I am doing better in recovery regarding muscle/skeletal pain. It was more difficulty to "go natural" with Pitocin/induction because I was not able to get into any sort of rhythm or "trance" with the labor, somewhat because it moved fast, but also because of the IV and monitoring and mental block. Of course, this lack of focus on my part made me much more aware of the birth itself and in that way the experience was much better... well and that the hospital handed her directly to me instead of whisking her off to measure right away. Anyways,that is the comparison. Both births had their ups and downs, and induction wasn't so bad. Because it went smoothly. (The problem is, you can't know in advance if it will!!).