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Birth Experiences: Act One, Sleeping Through Labor

Editor’s Note: At TodaysMama, we believe that all births are momentous, and that each mother should have the chance to write her own story. As part of our ongoing series, Birth Experiences, you can expect to read more tales on birth. A positive take on an epic event – be it homebirth, hospital, adoption and everything in between.

-Erin Oltmanns, Managing Editor

Act One: Sleeping through Labor

“Compared to this [procedure], child birth will be easy,” said the doctor to a 19-year-old me. Little did he know how many times I would reflect on his words? Was it true?

Yes, I am one of those people who have spent a lot of time in a hospital. Some may think having accidents and bungled physiology is dramatic, but it had become a routine part of my life. Things taken out, things screwed back together, peep holes to check out what was still inside–all normal for me. When it came time to decide where I would deliver a baby, it was an easy choice– the hospital was my “home away from home”, a place of order and healing.

I was Due Date +1, trying to convince myself that pregnancy could NOT last forever. At my doctor’s appointment, I was given mental freedom with the words, “I’ve scheduled an induction for next Monday.” Seven more days and time for The Grand Finale. Two hours later the contractions started.

We ate dinner, watched Jeopardy, I took a shower and packed the last few things in a bag and off to the hospital we went. We arrived by midnight, fearing rejection; having false contractions would be a rookie mistake. This was one audition I did not want to fail.

The nurse checked us in and confirmed that my contractions were real–the show must go on! With a fetal monitor on and starting at 1.5 cm, I curled up in the heated hospital blankets and took a nap while the contractions did their magic. By 4 a.m., I was dilated to 4 cm.

The contractions became more noticeable and I casually asked the nurse, “When do you get an epidural?” The nurse said it was up to me. The pain wasn’t miserable, but it seemed the thing to do. We moved to a delivery room and called our parents. This baby would need an audience once she made her debut.

The anesthesiologist granted my wish for a “little” epidural. I wanted to be able to contribute to the delivery and not stop it from progressing. The drugs took the edge off the pain but I could still feel contractions.

Status: 5 a.m. = 5 cm Time for more sleeping.

Status: 6 a.m. = 10 cm Show time!

The nurses hurried to get the room ready. My doctor was there before 7 a.m. With everyone in place, we danced through the well-choreographed procedures, nurses on each knee to coach through pushing. Enter doctor center stage.

Push #1 “Good try, just a little harder next time,”

Push #2 “Whoa! How about just a half push this time?”

Push #2 ½ “Okay, she’s almost here, just a little cut to prevent tearing.”

Push #3 “You have a baby girl!”

“That’s it?” I thought. What happened to the drama I’d seen at the prenatal class? What about all the horror stories? Did I really just have a baby? We were at the end of the show, but where was the action?

The doctor noted, “You’re the kind of person who should have 8 kids!”

“Really?” I laughed.

While I was excited to be a mom, the birth felt a little anti-climatic. Since the process was relatively pain-free, I didn’t think I’d “earned” my daughter. Carrying her for 9 months was work, but I didn’t experience many of the traditional side effects of pregnancy nor the theatrical labor anticipated. For the record, my doctor of years’ past was right—child birth was easy! For all the pain my body had endured over my life, I was rewarded with taking home a healthy little girl and having a wonderful, peaceful hospital birth.

Stay tuned for Act 2: Creating Drama of My Own

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