Before I had babies, one of my very best friends (with now 5 births under her belt) told me that when she’s having a baby, “Labor Day” is her favorite day. To be honest, I thought the woman was crazy. I mean, who loves sitting in a hospital bed, writhing in pain, trying to breathe through contractions, and then push a watermelon out of your chuckarella? After two births, I can tell you, this girl does. Yes, I’m a convert. Labor Day* is my favorite.
Now, to be clear, I had very successful births with few complications. I give a nod to all my Mamas out there who have gone through difficult labors and deliveries and therefore do not consider Labor Day their favorite. I consider myself extremely lucky. My two experiences, though very different, were both painfully beautiful.
With my first, my water broke in the middle of the night and I will never forget feeling (and, I swear, hearing) the POP of my bag rupturing on the right side of my belly. I was awake when it happened and couldn’t have been more excited. After a short visit to the hospital for false labor days earlier, I was glad to know that it was “go” time and we were definitely having this baby. When we got to the hospital, I wasn’t having contractions yet so the smile on my face threw off the nurse at the desk completely. She said that no one walks into the labor unit looking so happy. It’s 5am and I’m not going to scream my head off at you… you’re welcome, lady. The epidural was heavenly, until I needed Pitocin to further me along. I could feel my contractions from the Pitocin through the epidural so they had to up the epidural. I pushed for 2 1/2 hours and was cracking jokes with the doctor, nurse, and my husband in between each push. They wanted me to stop to rest and I told them to get back to work, no one rests until this baby is out! By the time his head was coming out, the epidural had worn out so I FELT EVERYTHING. The Boo came rip-roaring out 11 hours and 45 minutes after my water broke. He tore me up a bit, the Hubs says he could actually see my pulse rate in the blood spurts (nice visual, eh?), but I got a local for the repairs and before long I was snuggling my little man and popping my Percocet like a pro. He was perfectly healthy, I was doing just fine. A beautiful experience.
With my second, it was a bit of a longer road to get to Labor Day. In the week between my due date and my induction date, I had 3 rounds of false labor. None involved a hospital admission (never reached the magic 5:1:1 combo), but they were very painful, very exhausting, and totaled about 17 hours. So, induction it was. We got to the hospital around 7:30am, got my Cytotec at 9:05am, and began contracting and progressing like a pro. By the time I was ready for the epidural, my contractions were PAINFUL and I was just staring at the clock waiting for the anesthesiologist to arrive. He finally did and took FOREVER to do what he needed to do. While I was sitting there absolutely still for fear of being paralyzed, I had probably about 7 contractions, 2 of which my nurse called “monster contractions” and the little lady descended into the birth canal. But I couldn’t move. For fear of being paralyzed if the needle went in wrong or something. OWIE. I thought her head was hitting the bed while I was sitting there. Turns out I wasn’t far off, she was coming, so as soon as the anesthesiologist got out of the way, everyone got to work. Suddenly, the room was filled with a million people and I had no idea what was going on. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry and I thought it was just because she had come down so quickly. As it turns out, they lost her vitals and needed me to get her out quickly. I kept my eyes closed because the chaos in the room was too distracting and just listened as the nurse, my doctor, and the Neonatologist they had called in told me what they needed me to do. The epidural never really kicked in. I got some tinglies in my legs but that is about it. Unintended natural labor and birth for me! Two and a half pushes (yes, pushes, not hours not minutes, but pushes) and the little lady was out 5 hours and 40 minutes after taking the induction medication. She came out dark purple but by the time I opened my eyes and looked, she had pinked up very quickly, OPENED HER EYES, and was just staring at me and my husband from the crook of the doctor’s arm. Well, hi there, little one! She was a little bruised and her face squished from her trip, but otherwise, perfect. While all of the people hopping around the room swarmed over her to make sure the baby was OK, I received my repairs, sans anesthetic. OWIE. But, baby girl was healthy and I was fine. We snuggled the rest of the day. It was a short labor and though the last 15 minutes of it was crazy and nerve-wracking, it was a wonderful and near perfect experience, even without full pain management.
So, Happy “Labor Day” to all the Mommies that were lucky to have a beautiful birth experience. I know I will always cherish mine!
*Before you cut to the comments section to blast me about the holiday of Labor Day having nothing to do with birthing children, stop yourselves. I know that. It’s a play on words. I have much respect for American workers. They’re just not as fun to write about.