Just over a week ago, I had my second baby. Coming up to the time of delivery, I am going to be completely honest in saying that I was scared. You would think that having gone through the process once would put me at ease, but instead the second labor and delivery scared me to death. See, my first labor and delivery were rough. It was long and hard and it scared me to think that I would have to do it again. But here is why I really didn’t need to be afraid.
Before I go into my birth stories, I just want to say that what I found out was that every labor and delivery is different. Just because my first labor was long and recovery was long, it didn’t mean my second labor and delivery would be the same. So if you had a disastrous first labor, it doesn’t mean subsequent ones will be just as bad. Read more about the huge differences between my first and second labor and delivery.
My first labor and delivery took 40 hours from start to finish. Yup, 40 hours. I kept joking during my second pregnancy that if I even cut the time in half, I would only be in labor for a full day. Part of the problem was that when I was towards the end of the third trimester, I had influenza. I was still so weak, even weeks later, that my entire labor and delivery process was affected.
I went into labor at 3am, went into the hospital that morning to be monitored, was told I was progressing but not very fast, so they sent me home. I labored at home for a while and was admitted that night and was able to sleep a little bit throughout the night.
The next morning, I spent most of the morning walking the labor and delivery floor trying to get my contractions to increase and intensify. I was definitely in labor, but things were moving so slowly. It was okay though because I had a plan for an all natural water birth and so far even though labor was long, nothing was changing my plan.
Then my water broke sometime around noon. Unfortunately there was meconium in the fluid, so a water birth was out of the question. I was still pretty set on my natural birth though. That was, until labor intensified and my poor, exhausted body couldn’t take it anymore.
At one point, I was laboring in the shower and when it came time to go back to the bed, I couldn’t even walk. My husband and a nurse had to basically carry me there. At that point, I threw in the towel and asked for an epidural. I was able to take a small nap after I got the epidural, but unfortunately I had one completely dead leg and could barely feel to know when to push. They had to tell me when I was having a contraction.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t and still don’t feel like I “failed” because the birth I had wasn’t the kind of birth I had envisioned. But it was enough to scare me when I became pregnant for the second time.
Here I am going home with my first. Look at how tired I look despite it being three days after I gave birth.
Coming up to my second labor and delivery, I was nervous. I tried very hard to not venture into “scared” territory, but thinking back on how much time I spent in labor and how exhausted I was, it was hard not to be scared sometimes. Not only was the first labor and delivery hard, but the recovery was long. It took me the full 6 weeks to recover and most of that was spent on the couch because I was uncomfortable and tired.
Speaking to other moms, I just couldn’t relate to some of their experiences. One told me she went to Target with her husband the day she was released from the hospital. I could hardly hobble inside from the car, I certainly wasn’t going to go out in public after my first delivery!
I was dreading the recovery period because this time around, I would have to try to go through an uncomfortable recovery while dealing with the needs of a newborn and a toddler. But really, I didn’t need to worry.
My second labor started as a surprise a week before my due date. My first was born two days after her due date, so I was fully expecting my second to come around the same time. But besides the fact that I also went into labor at 3am with this baby, nothing else was the same.
Right away, my contractions were consistent. The last time around, my contractions were all over the board when they started. They would be consistent for a while before becoming inconsistent. Talk about annoying! But this time, they were really consistent.
Even with my contractions 5 minutes apart and lasting a minute each, I still took my daughter to school that morning (around 8am) and carried her inside because I knew she would be a big sister the next time I saw her. When I went inside, everyone questioned whether I was really in labor because I was acting so normal.
At about 11, my contractions were intense and when I called my midwife, I told her I was coming in. I was at the point where my contractions HURT. In my first labor, it took over a day to get to that point. Here it had only taken 8 hours.
By the time we got to the hospital, I was in a lot of pain. I even told my husband on the way over that I was leaning towards an epidural because the contractions were coming fast and furious. Once we were admitted and settled in our room, Andrew made sure to tell the nurse right away that I wanted an epidural because he could see how fast this labor was moving.
The nurse hooked me up to an iv because I needed fluids before I was able to get an epidural. At this point, the contractions were so strong that I didn’t mind that it took three pokes to get an iv started. (And a week and a half later, I still have bruises from it!) The midwives also came in to check how far along I was and I was shocked to learn I had already dilated to 6! My first labor it took almost a whole day just to get to 3 centimeters.
I got the epidural around noon or so. After a little while, I told the nurse that I was feeling a lot of pressure, so she got the midwives to come in and take a look. They lifted the blanket and discovered that baby’s head was already basically crowning.
As I got to the pushing phase, one of the midwives made a remark that I had the perfect epidural: I could feel enough to know when to push, but was numb enough to not be in pain. It was so empowering to be able to go through the delivery being able to talk and joke with everyone around.
I felt great after the second labor and delivery. I mean, I obviously felt like I had just given birth to a shockingly big baby, but I felt great otherwise. I was so tired after the first one that I could hardly form coherent sentences. My mom and sister even commented when they visited the next day that I was so with it this time. They then did a really unnecessary impression of how out of it I was after my first delivery.
But really, 11 days later as I write this, I still feel great. In fact, my biggest problem is that I tend to overdo it and need to slow down and take a little break every now and again. I have been able to have family over for Thanksgiving with a fairly clean house less than a week after having a baby.
Here I am two days after birth. Sure I’m tired, but I don’t look like I got hit by a bus in this one.
All of this was to say that you shouldn’t be scared of the second labor and delivery or any subsequent ones. I wasted mental energy on worrying when I should’ve been focusing on preparing for birth instead. However it happens, it will happen. Just know that it will be different each time.
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