Leading up to the birth of my daughter, I experienced an increasing amount of anxiety. Not only was I getting Progesterone shots weekly; but Coronavirus was ramping up and I was convinced she was going to come early, just like my son. All of these unknowns were not helpful in reducing my anxiousness. I packed our bags 4 weeks early, had her room set up, and was anxiously awaiting her arrival. I was experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions daily, and it felt like her head was wedged into my pelvis.
The night before she was born, we sent our son to stay with his grandparents because we had a feeling she was coming any day now. As the night progressed and my husband and I laid in bed watching Jersey Shore, it was increasingly harder for me to lay in bed. My back was cramping non-stop and I couldn’t get comfortable. We called the Labor and Delivery department, and as expected, they did not think I should come in yet.
Prior to going into labor, the doctor had said to head to the hospital if my contractions were 7-8 minutes apart. She also stated I would be in labor half the amount of time I was with my son, which equaled out to about 6 hours total. Now, the Labor and Delivery nurse over the phone was saying to wait until my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. As you can imagine, this was EXTREMELY confusing. The drive to the hospital was 35 minutes, what if I waited too long?!
I decided I must be overreacting and I would wait until they got closer. The night continued to progress and the contractions got worse. Now they were 5 minutes apart and becoming unbearable. We called Labor and Delivery again. This time they put the decision more on us. Saying if I wanted to come I could, but my contractions were still not close enough together. Again, not helpful. So this time I decided I would go. Tylenol wasn’t going to fix this pain.
We loaded up the car and made the trek to the hospital. For some perspective, this was March 16, 2020; 3 days after the country was put into mandatory quarantine. And here we were, headed into the hospital, the worst place to be during this time. When we arrived we were greeted at the door by 2 nurses in masks and gloves next to a sign that indicated that if you were experiencing any of the CoronaVirus symptoms to please remain outside and call them. They handed us a questionnaire and informed my husband he must go park his car elsewhere. For about 7 minutes I had to stand next to the nurses waiting for him to return with all of our luggage (notorious over packer right here!).
Once my husband returned, we walked to the registrar. Even though I had registered online 3 months prior, the woman stated “oh, you may as well have not done that, it’s useless”. So, we sat there for another 6 minutes waiting for them to take down my insurance information. From this point, we were escorted by security to the elevator and went up to the labor and delivery floor. Once the elevator doors opened, we were greeted by more security & escorted to the front desk.
Since my water had not broken and my contractions remained 5 minutes apart, I was brought to the triage area for monitoring. I was dilated 3 cm. We waited another 2 hours, I had progressed ½ a cm. The nurse informed us that typically, they would have sent us home and we could return when my contractions were closer together. However, given this new quarantine and the length of our drive, they agreed to allow me to stay. I agreed to have Pitocin, should I not dilate any further, and we were admitted to a room. Two hours later, I had dilated another ½ cm.
At this point, the contractions were continuing to become more painful and I was experiencing back labor again. I was given Pitocin and started the process of the Epidural. My last Epidural seemed to go much smoother. This time, my husband was sitting in front of me (they make them sit in case they faint), holding my hands, as I did breathing exercises trying not to faint. I continued to feel faint throughout the process and once the Anesthesiologist finished, I vomited.
The nurse reassured me this was a normal reaction and that I should be fine moving forward. My husband went to sleep (it was about 4AM at this point) and I laid awake wondering if other women in labor have the ability to sleep during these moments. As expected from my last epidural, they would come in every 15-20 minutes to switch me onto the other side. At about 5:30AM the doctor came in and said I had only dilated another ½ cm. She said if they break my water, it could speed up my labor. I agreed.
This was a weird process. You sort of feel the pressure of them breaking your water, but you also feel nothing. It is really hard to explain. But this did, in fact, speed up my labor. Thirty minutes later the doctor returned saying I was dilated 9 ½ cm. We woke my husband up (yes he slept through ALL of this) to let him know I would start pushing soon. I pushed for 30 minutes and she was out.
This time around, she wasn’t swept away into the NICU with a bunch of nurses. She was placed on my chest and laid there for about an hour. It was a pretty incredible experience. I think after having my son I was in denial that the “golden hour” was really all it was cracked up to be, but it was definitely a special moment.
We then transitioned to our recovery room and stayed there for the night. We ordered Wood Ranch BBQ (it’s a family favorite) and watched terrible movies that were available on the TV. She slept THE ENTIRE TIME. The nurses kept saying babies don’t usually do that so we were lucky to have a peaceful night. The next morning the doctor and pediatrician came by to let us know that we could stay an extra night if we felt we needed to, or we could go home given the current pandemic.
This was a no-brainer to me. I am heading home. My husband was weary at my confidence. But ultimately, I gave birth so I get to make the decision and we are going home. This second trip home from the hospital felt way less stressful and chaotic. It was comfortable and we were seasoned pros.
I like to believe that if this was outside of a pandemic, my second birth experience would have been a great way to round out having children. Unfortunately, the anxiety surrounding keeping a newborn safe continues to fester in the back of my mind as we all move cautiously through this crazy time in our lives.