One Born Every Minute
My Laboring Lessons Learned
It took me many years after the birth of my two children to get some perspective (and a sense of humor) on the experiences. I found myself dumbfounded during and long after the birth of my first child that despite the amount of expert material on labor and childbirth I had read, studied and committed to memory, nothing prepared me for the actual experience. Perhaps it’s nature’s grand conspiracy to ensure the continuation of the human race. Maybe if woman were given full disclosure of the pain they were to endure, they’d decide they could live without the experience. Hence, I was left with only vague descriptions of “what to expect.” Let me say it clearly from the outset, it is called “labor” for good reason. But, God bless women, they will endure the pain. And endure I did, but it would have been “nice” if I had understood I was going to need to manage that pain and that there were options.
I learned so much with the birth of my first child that the second time around I actually enjoyed the experience. Imagine that – enjoying the most important and monumental moment of your life; what a wonderful concept. I share below the actual questions I asked myself (with clenched teeth!) during my first birthing experience, and the answers I prepared in advance of the birth of my second child. I call these My Laboring Lessons Learned . . .
How come no one ever told me how “intense” laboring is??? I know for centuries women have been walking through labor, but could someone have told me I was having a grand delusion that I would bravely walk and breathe my way through labor – I was in the best shape of my life, I thought I’d just keep breathing and walking and birth this baby, no drugs needed. I think I made maybe six laps around the floor, each time getting slower and slower, having to stop and then get moving again – my bravado quickly evaporated along with my “expectation” that I was going to do this “drug-free”. I begrudgingly let go of my “plan” and starting calling for the anesthesiologist and telling my husband “get me the drugs NOW!!!” This was not for me, there had to be a better way.
Labor second time around – I told my husband, his first priority was getting me hooked up with a skilled anesthesiologist immediately upon arrival and becoming his best friend.
How come know one ever told me that getting drugs administered while in labor is not like ordering fast food – you don’t place your order and get it under 5 minutes. It can be more than an hour before the anesthesiologist appears. As I described above, by the time I caved on the “no drugs” philosophy, I needed them badly – you can imagine my response when I was told the anesthesiologist would be by in about an hour, not good; in fact, very, very bad.
Stay ahead of the pain and place your order early. Second time around, I stated my desire clearly and plainly – “put my epidural order in an hour before I can have it”. Every so often I checked to make sure I was not in danger of a shift change, which can delay “service” an additional hour. It’s never good to keep a woman waiting, let alone a woman whose labor pains are steadily increasing exponentially.
How come no one ever told me that you may not feel like a “party” when your pain is not being “managed” and the big beautiful family who are taking turns visiting to pass the time while laboring are subject to seeing my head do a 360. My husband was so excited he called all the family on our way to the hospital at 6am – he had no idea we had a bit of time to spare (literally all day).
I got a pain management plan and was a gracious laboring woman. Also, based on our experience of 12+ hours in labor with our first child, the next time my husband waited to call everyone until we got settled in the hospital. I was genuinely happy to visit with everyone!
How come no one ever told me what would happen when laboring and delivering in a teaching hospital? After four different residents “checked me” within the first 60 minutes upon my arrival to see how I was progressing – I asked one of the nurses what was going on, and she so sweetly replied, “you’re in a teaching hospital dear”.
I understand the purpose of a teaching hospital, however, just not for me. I made sure I was delivering in a non-teaching hospital on second go-around, as I’m not a big fan of the never-ending parade of new faces and hands.
How come no one ever told me about the possibility an OB might decide it’s “prudent” to let the epidural wear off? Once I had the epidural, I wanted to keep the epidural, is that too much to ask? Apparently, my doc didn’t feel I’d have the wherewithal to push out the baby if I didn’t have 100% feeling because the baby had to be delivered sunny side up, and, consequently, let the epidural wear off completely. I really could have lived without feeling every millimeter the baby moved as she progressed through the birth canal.
I got a new OB and at my first visit to confirm pregnancy, I made him promise he would never let the epidural wear off.
Well, in the end I came full circle – natural childbirth (be careful what you wish for), a good “war story”, and the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen. Almost four years later (oh, yes, that’s how long it took me to get some “perspective” on the experience), I was blessed with an oh so “civilized” and “managed” second childbirth (I loved having the benefit of the first experience), a dreamy labor and delivery, and a beautiful baby boy. My babies are now 15 and 11.
Tune in to the second season of the unscripted series "One Born Every Minute." Premieres Tuesday, November 29 at 10 pm et/pt on Lifetime.