I want to share my third birth story. It was an entirely different experience from my first two births, just proving further that these things can’t really be predicted or fully planned for!
My water broke at 2:35 am, while I was sleeping. I thought I was peeing myself but I had just gone to the bathroom 45 minutes prior so I quickly realized what was happening and I jumped up to get to the bathroom. It wasn’t a huge gush, but I was pretty sure it was my water. I told Chaz, but contractions didn’t seem to be starting so I put a towel down on my bed and got back in to rest and wait.
Painless contractions started and were about 10 minutes apart. I was tracking them on my phone. I decided to call my mom to come over (the girls were asleep so we needed someone here) around 3am, as I was worried things would progress quickly like they did last time. We began to prep to leave for the hospital. Bags were packed, but last minute items needed to be added, and we both took quick showers which was nice. I believe I had 14 contractions over the course of the next 2.5 hours, continuing as mom arrived and Chaz drove us to the hospital. The last few contractions I had were getting crampy- to the point where I was breathing through them with eyes closed- but they weren’t severe.
Once we got to the hospital, I was able to walk to my room without needing wheelchair transport. But after arriving to my room (and skipping triage for the third time!), contractions seemed to stop. I was checked and was between 4-5 cm dilated. They said I was in “early labor” and that they’d probably need to give me Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) to get things going again. I was a little nervous because I had never had Pitocin before, and I know it causes strong contractions.
They took my blood work, gave me a Covid test and started my IV fluids. They swabbed my vagina to confirm that my water really broke (checking for amniotic fluid.) When the nurse did the swab, it hurt SO bad. I knew where the swab was supposed to go, but it felt like she was stabbing my urethra and I called out in pain. She had warned me that it would hurt and I knew I’ve been swollen so I didn’t think anything was wrong, per se. Afterwards, I actually felt dizzy and asked for juice, and felt better after a few minutes. A little while later, I needed to use the bathroom, so they unhooked me and let me walk there with Chaz. It hurt SO bad to pee- like excruciating, which was alarming, and there was also blood. Right after I peed with that horrible pain, I got that vasovagal response again and got really lightheaded. But this time I was upright on the toilet with nowhere to go, and I felt so dizzy that I was sure I was about to pass out. Chaz came in to hold me so I wouldn’t fall off the toilet, and the nurses came back in and were concerned. It was the most awful gross feeling, but I came back from it and was able to get back into bed and drink more juice. I felt weak but okay. I told them about the pain and bleeding, but they didn’t seem concerned and figured the blood was from being in labor (and maybe it was.)
Blood work came back okay, though platelets had gone back to 114k which I was disappointed about. It didn’t prevent me from getting an epidural, though, which was the concern. The anesthesiologist was available, thankfully, and we got that done right as they were starting the Pitocin- which was a huge relief. I began contractions again but only progressed to 6 cm or so (I wish I could give a time frame here, but when in labor the passage of time is distorted in my experience).
They put me on my side with a huge peanut shaped yoga-looking ball between my knees which was actually quite comfy, despite my legs being numb and tingly. I was able to rest and may have even slept a bit, which was great (again, no clue how much time passed). Then I think they pumped up my Pitocin and I really started to notice when I was contracting. Still, no pain for a while. Almost suddenly, at around 11am, I had a contraction that was quite painful on my left side (the side that was down) that required me to vocalize through it, and Chaz called for the nurse to come check me. It felt like my vagina was opening or stretching, while the actual discomfort was in my left side, and I guessed that I could be in transition or even further. It’s interesting, because despite being very numb, I had these instincts that said “It’s time,” and to get onto my back. The nurses must have been busy, because they didn’t come for 7-10 min and the nurse who came wasn’t mine. I said, “Something’s happening, I think I need to be checked,” and she sent someone right in- I was 10 cm!! They got me on my back (which I could not do on my own) and I didn’t have another bad contraction after that; the change in positioning resolved the pain on my left side.
The doc came in, suggested we put music on (“We got tunes?”), and they got me right into stirrups. My legs were completely numb- definitely a thorough epidural- so I couldn’t help at all. Once another contraction started, I was instructed to pull myself forward by grabbing my legs, hold my breath and push. I ignored the breath holding at first, because I have read reasoning to the contrary, and my first 2 sets of pushes were still productive. But then they were all repeating for me to hold my breath, so I obeyed. The second two pushes were even more productive, and he was out! I couldn’t believe how fast and pretty effortless it was to get him out, but I think my body did 90% of the work and they didn’t force me to push before he was ready to be born (like they had in the other hospital with Ollie)! His face, hands and feet were purple, and he started crying right away. The doc placed him on my chest as he quoted the song that was playing- Satellite, by Dave Matthews Band- “He looked up, looked down and all around.” I think the baby did open his eyes for a few seconds, too! The nurse put a hat on him and gave me a blanket to keep him warm.
I had a 2nd degree tear again, but only needed a few stitches. It didn’t bleed too much because the doc said I probably tore along the scar from before and scar tissue has little to no blood flow. I didn’t feel a thing as the placenta was born, nor when he stitched me up.
Delayed cord clamping is standard procedure in the hospital- usually a few minutes is their policy. I noticed the doc asking my husband to cut the cord pretty quickly after birth and I didn’t say anything because I was just so overwhelmed with happy tears at the moment, and figured I just didn’t even have a concept of how much time had actually passed. But later, Chaz told me that the doc noticed there was “nothing in the cord.” In hindsight, I saw him cut it and it was pretty white, so it seems like the cord drained quickly. The placenta came out a few minutes after he was born and I barely noticed as I was so busy staring at my baby boy. It took FOREVER for the numbness to wear off completely, which was annoying! It was hours and hours it seemed, and well after I had been moved to my postpartum room. In order to transfer to the new room, they had to help me into the wheelchair and then into the new bed. It’s still crazy to me that about 9 hours passed from my water breaking until birth, but it didn’t seem that long at all.
Charles Peter Spofford
Born 7/8/21 at 11:25am
Immediately postpartum, I was so weak and for a while I was still numb. Once I had feeling, the pain wasn’t terrible but I was sore in my epidural area, and so weak. I had soreness and cramps in my perineum and just felt exhausted physically. My bleeding improved throughout the next day, but was still fairly heavy 4 days in (as to be expected). I would say that bleeding subsided within 2 weeks or so, but I still had some here and there, especially on days when I had more activity.
I would say that this was probably my most pleasant birth experience, though Maryn’s was exhilarating and I don’t regret avoiding the epidural for that one. It was nice to not feel panicked getting to the hospital, being able to walk to my room, being able to relax, get an epidural before severe pain set in and deliver with just a few pushes. No ring of fire, no complications. Who could ask for more?!
I am forever grateful for my health and the health of my babies. I have put a lot of work and dedication to my health over the years, but I also acknowledge the luck and the privilege involved in all of it. I believe that this will be my last birth and my last child, so I really tried to soak it all in.
Please feel free to reach out to me with questions! I have so much to say on this topic and am never short on opinions, but my mind is wide open and I know everyone’s experience and preferences are different.