(Nothing glamorous or blogger worthy here – just real life low quality pics on the best day of our lives! After a long 24 hours of labor & delivery we finally have our first born son!)
I would say I will try and keep this short and sweet but let’s be honest that wasn’t really how my first pregnancy birthing story went down. Going into labor as a first time mom you really have absolutely no idea what to expect and due to Covid there were not a lot of traditional ways you could prepare for it. With that being said, I have so many questions written down from you guys so let’s dive right in! Our due date for little man was August 27, 2020 and after my 39 week checkup we set up August 25, 2020 to get induced at 7:30 am. At my 39 week appt I was 1.90 cm dilated and 100% effaced and his head was super low in the birthing canal. With all of that being known everyone thought he would show up and be here in no time!
On Monday August 24th I woke up and decided to run a few errands before going by the grocery store and then home to finish packing and preparing for an exciting morning ahead. While I was on the phone with a friend walking around TJ Maxx (if you know me, this wouldn’t shock you one bit) I started having contractions. I’ve had contractions before about 10 minutes apart for an hour and a half and then they subsided and went away so I didn’t think much of it to be honest. I guess with it being so close to the induction I just didn’t think too much of it but after about 30 minutes walking around I figured I should go ahead and checkout because I was probably scaring other customers thinking I might be going into labor. I told my friend it’s fine I’m sure they’re not real – I wasn’t really paying attention but after checking out and driving home (luckily it’s only 5 minutes away from my house) I started timing them and they were 5 minutes apart. I decided to skip the grocery store and I figured Robert and I could run by there or Walgreens later if we needed to (of course never did – insert hand on head face). My contractions started around 12 and never let up so I ended up calling the doctor around 1:30 due to the 5-1-1 rule they tell you ( when contractions come every 5 minutes, each lasting a full minute, and have been that way for an hour.) They told me the doctor would be back around 2 so I could come in and get checked if I would like. That sounded like the best plan because once they close around 5 due to Covid if I were to go into labor after hours we would have to go in through the ER because it is the only part of the hospital open after hours. So we packed up and went in around 2:45 and the doctor on call gave me a cervical check and I was still 1.90 cm dilated so nothing had changed so she sent me home and said if they get closer together and more intense or if my water breaks give us a call back but if not we’ll see you tomorrow morning for induction.
So we went home, grabbed a little bit of food, but I was still having contractions so I didn’t really want to eat too much. By about 7:30 pm that night my contractions never subsided and honestly they were super painful. Every time they hit I would keel over and sometimes cry a little because they hurt that bad. I kind of felt like a pansy because just a few hours ago I was sent home, but I had a lot of momma friends telling me to call and go back again because labor can come on quick and things happen fast sometimes. So I did call back and the doctor told me to go ahead and come back in since they hadn’t subsided and have become more intense. We had to go through the ER this time and see the triage nurses to confirm that I was in active labor. We went in around 8:30 and I was 4.5 cm dilated so they omitted us and sent us up to a room in Labor & Delivery. I had a few questions about the hospital and birthing during Covid – I delivered at Lexington Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina so I can only speak for my experience here but overall it wasn’t too strict compared to most. Granted were at the later end of this pandemic so things are a lot less strict now than just a month or two ago. My husband was obviously allowed in with me and we had heard he wouldn’t be able to leave once we were omitted but that turned out to not be true. The nurses said as long as he kept his band on he could come and go as he pleased even outside of the hospital for food runs, etc. but he didn’t end up leaving at all while we were there. We were also allowed two visitors from the hours of 8am – 12pm each day but considering we had baby boy at 8:06 pm that really only left us with one full day the next day at the hospital and then we were discharged the next day around 11 am. They say usually if it’s a vaginal birth it’s a two night stay at the hospital if it’s cesarean section it’ll be around three nights (all depending on any other complications that may occur as well.) We had a long vaginal delivery but overall it went great – mom and baby were healthy after so we only stayed two nights. I did have a few recorded high blood pressure levels during and then a few after labor but the doctor just told the nurses to watch it for a few and if it didn’t go down by morning they would give me medicine for it but it did – I mean let’s be honest I just went through 24 hours of labor and 2.5 hours of pushing.
Once you’re in Labor & Delivery you’re not allowed to eat or really drink anything until after you give birth (this honestly was one of the hardest parts for me being in labor for 24 hours and pushing my heart out for 2.5 at the end with basically no fuel or energy.) You’re allowed ice chips or a popsicle and I asked if they had any candy (I was going to pack some hard candy like jolly ranchers etc. but as stated earlier didn’t have time to go get any before going into labor) so they brought me a few dum dum lollipops which helped. They do this because I promise you if you have anything in your stomach towards the end of delivery it will more than likely come back up – I vomited twice but it was really just water and a little stomach acid. There were a few things that could have gone a little differently that could have prevented the long labor which I will point out a little later on – it wasn’t anything on our end but their end that the LND (labor & delivery) nurses pointed out.
Once I got up to our Labor & Delivery room they asked if I wanted an epidural and I said YES PLEASE. I had a lot of DM’s and questions on this topic asking if it is it painful etc. so I will try and go as in depth as possible. With that being said before you can get the epidural they must test your blood platelets to make sure you have enough to coagulate since they are sticking a needle in your spine. Then they must also have the on call doctor there in the area and the anesthesiologist (who actually performs the epidural.) For some reason my blood test took a little longer than normal and then the doctor showed up about 5 minutes later but then the nurse came in and told me she’s so sorry but she just found out the anesthesiologist just went into a C-section so I would have to wait on him. She said he doesn’t have to stay for the whole c-section but she just wanted to let me know it would be a little longer – overall I waited about an hour and a half to get the epidural which was kind of unexpected and sucked but it is what it is. They make you sit on the edge of the bed and curl over as much as possible into the nurse while she rubbed my arms (Mrs. Cindy was absolutely amazing!) The anesthesiologist was fairly quick too and they talk you through it – honestly they only part you really feel is a small pinch needle in your back for the numbing medicine which you also feel go into your body but once they numb you up good you don’t actually feel them put the epidural in. I did have a contraction in the middle of it which really sucked too because you’re trying to breathe and stay still but the nurse and doctors are so use to it they’ll talk you through it. Once it’s in they tape you up very good so it won’t come out – like top of your back to bottom which sucks trying to get off after the fact but it’s worth it to keep that epidural in the whole time. After receiving the epidural around 11 pm we were good to go, it kicked in fairly quickly I’d say in about 15 minutes and I didn’t feel a thing all night or the next day! I would highly recommend it – considering I had 2-3 minute contractions all night beautifully they said and the next day – I couldn’t imagine feeling all of those for that long – I didn’t feel a thing after until the end stages of pushing. Also, I want to point out that if you get an epidural they also put a catheter in since you are completely numb from the epidural down. It is crazy that the epidural triggers all nerves below where it is placed in the body but not any above it.
The next morning at 7 am the same doctor came in and said I was 8 cm dilated and she went ahead and broke my water for me – I didn’t feel a thing due to the epidural. She was on call from 8-8 the previous day so she ended up leaving after breaking my water and we all assumed she thought after breaking my water he would come right out in about an hour or so (all signs pointed to it so I don’t blame her.) However, that was not the case and by the time the new doctor and nurses for the next day shift became acclimated with their patients for the day and came in and checked they said I was actually only 6 -7 cm dilated around 8:30 am. They chose to wait it out another hour or so since she had just broke my water to see if I would dilate more on my own (rule of thumb is 1 cm. per hour) but by 11:30 am I was still only 7 cm dilated so they decided to start Pitocin. The head nurse was a little aggravated the on call doctor that morning didn’t do it at 7 am but she figured she thought he would just come out on his own fairly quickly. I want to state to that I have had a LEEP procedure done before back in college which is where they find precancerous cells on your cervix and have to burn them off. Sometimes this can leave scar tissue and cause issues during pregnancy but mine was a very small section that was removed and all of the nurses and doctors said they felt no scar tissue and overall my body was doing great with the labor. This could have been a reason the end dilation took longer but theres really no way to tell. After Pitocin was administered I went from 7cm to 10 in about 3 hours and it really seemed to work. Once I was fully dilated the nurse came in to try and check baby out and unfortunately he was not face down. Do not get this confused with head down – he was head down very low in the canal but they say once baby’s pass below the pelvic bones they usually turn face down and this helps them better slide out. We had to wait about an hour and I had to roll on both of my sides in some crazy leg up positions to try and make sure baby boy did this or else they would have contemplated a C- section. By this time it was about 4:30 and I was beyond exhausted with no food or drink since 8 pm the night before but it was time to start pushing!
The on call doctor came in to double check behind the lead nurse and give us the okay to start pushing! Once we got the okay she would tell me when a contraction was coming and she told me to take a deep breath in and then hold it in tight and push out as hard as I could for 10 seconds. After the second time doing it she was like well he has hair! So crazy that she could feel and tell that and he was technically right there but it took 2.5 hours to actually push him out! We tried multiple positions of pushing – at one point they put a bar on top of the bed and I literally was squatting on top of the bed pushing him out which was hard because my legs were still partially numb from the epidural. The last hour I did not have an epidural so I could feel the contractions coming on before they could see them on the monitors. This allowed me to utilize the contractions better to help me push him out. The best method I found useful was putting my hands behind my thighs and pulling them as close to my face as possible – taking a deep breath in and push out pushing your chin as close to your chest as possible and holding it for at least 10 seconds. We did this 3 times per contraction back to back no rest until the contraction is over. It was the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done for that long and with no real energy in my body and I literally felt like at times my eyes were going to pop out of their sockets. Sorry this may seem graphic but hey thats labor for ya.
The nurse earlier on did feel so bad for me and asked the doctor if they should use a vacuum to help pull the baby out but the doctor had me push twice and was like no she’s got this. Which I commend him for but at the same time as exhausted as I was it was a little disheartening considering you’re the only one in the room working their ASS off to push this baby out (excuse my language.) Towards the end of pushing the doctor also mentioned an episiotomy which is when they make an incision between the vaginal opening and the anus to help baby’s head come out. The majority of women (up to 9 in every 10) will tear to some extent during childbirth and you have to get stitches to repair the tear so the episiotomy is no different – instead of tearing they just cut you. I ended up pushing my ass off and did not have to get an episiotomy but I did have a very slight second degree tear. Robert said it was about the size of the top part of your pinky and the doctor only had to do 3 stitches so overall that is really good and I’m lucky that’s all that happened. I also had a very small hemorrhoid which are sore, swollen veins that are found in your rectum. They are common after a vaginal delivery due to all of the pushing and straining. Symptoms include pain, rectal itching, bleeding after having a bowel movement, or a swollen area around the anus. But like I said mine was quite small and between that and the stitches I did have to nurse these things postpartum recovery. I will link some of the things that helped me recover at the bottom of this post.
Lastly, I want to talk about after baby has arrived! Time starts to fly by super fast after this and you’re in a state of disbelief and euphoria. Holding my baby for the first time and hearing his cry after carrying him for 9 months was the most surreal thing I’ve ever experienced. They quickly take them and clean them up, weigh and measure them for you while you lay there and get cleaned up (this being a nice term). It’s actually kind of crazy all of the fluid and things that come out of you along with baby. Robert cut the umbilical chord and I literally watched the doctor pull that and the placenta out of me and put it in a pail to be sent off for testing. He then quickly stitched me up and they had to basically “scrape” from the outside and push all of the unwanted extra fluid/blood etc. from your stomach so that it falls out. Yes it is just about as disgusting as it sounds. What I was not aware of is that afterwards they leave you on Pitocin for 2 hours so you continue contractions so they make sure your uterus contracts back down – this prevents bleeding and hemorrhaging. However, after all of that labor and delivery – finding out I had to go through more contractions for 2 hours with no epidural (hence you feel everything) after I did my job and pushed baby – I was not a happy camper to say the least. I was at least able to eat and drink right away which felt amazing. During those two hours of contractions my nurse also had to come back in every 15 minutes and scrape my stomach down (they call it massaging but it is far from a massage it wasn’t pleasant to say the least.) After all of that you are then transferred to your comfy postpartum room that you will be in for the next few nights. The next few days are a lot of nurses, lactation specialists, pediatricians, doctors, etc… popping in constantly to check on you and baby. Check your vitals, check your feeding, take blood, administer medicine etc. They taught me how to nurse my wounds for recovery and due to the epidural and catheter it took me a few times before I could go to the bathroom again. They gave me two Percocet the first night due to the long labor pains and they say that more intense meds help you relax more so they would probably help my bladder back to normal quicker. After that I just received Motrin and a stool softener which I highly recommend continuing once you get home just to help for comfort.
I hope a little bit of light into my birthing experience can help you in someway. Although, everyone’s experience is different and you never know what will happen until you’re there in the moment I hope this can put your mind at ease on a few topics. After reading it back I know this may all seem very scary and disturbing but honestly it wasn’t that bad at all even despite the long labor and delivery, holding my baby boy after made it totally worth it. I would do it 100 times again if I had to just to have him here with us. If there is anything I missed or if you have any other questions about my birthing experience please feel free to leave them in the comments below or DM me on instagram @ashleybeary
These are all of the items that I used postpartum for recovery – The hospital will provide you with everything you need but I preferred most of these once I got home for more comfort.