the gory details

Thanks for all of the well wishes and kind words.  It’s amazing how loved and supported one can feel in cyberspace.  Several people wanted to know a little more, so this is the more.  It’s probably way too much information for most people.  Consider yourself warned.

This is day six, and poor Thomas is jaundiced — nothing new for us.  He started home light therapy yesterday afternoon, which is annoying, but doable.  He is nursing well and pretty content in between feedings, even sleeping most of the night when he isn’t eating.  I don’t think any of my babies have latched on as consistently and well as he has at this age.  I love nursing and it’s always a great relief when the baby “gets it.”

As for me, thanks to a very competent and helpful husband/father, I am very well as well.  Matt takes the baby in between feedings at night, and we are both getting enough sleep to function — barely.  I need a little more for my head to stop hurting, but it’s coming.  He’s managing kids, meals, dishes, laundry, errands while I manage breastfeeding and resting.  (He’s appreciating what I usually do a little more.)  We’re both managing poor Mary, who is a little whinier than we like her right now.  She’s feeling displaced and wishes I could hold her all day, which is all pretty normal three-year-old-with-a-new-baby behavior.  We did have a moment yesterday evening when I was trying to take a bath and three of the kids were crying at once.  Not just a wimper, but a wail.  It wasn’t pretty.  And poor Sam has been home with the flu the last two days.  What’s great is that at 11, he just needs plenty of fluids and a remote control, and he can cope with being sick pretty independently.

Say a little prayer for me tomorrow, when Matt goes back to work.  He will still be here to help at night of course, and will stay until the school kids leave in the morning.  His mom is planning to help a lot with Mary, which I think will be the biggest need when he is gone.  And my parents will arrive Monday night.

And now for posterity, and for those who are interested in long narratives about childbirth….

We went to the hospital last Wednesday at noon.  Three days before my due date, and no real reason to induce, other than my history of very fast labors which has always made me worry that I might give birth in a car or at home by myself or something.  These last two babies have been a little harder to induce, because their heads were not engaged in my pelvis.  Usually, when women at the end of pregnancy are walking around two or three centimeters dilated, the baby’s head is pushing down on the cervix, helping move things along.  But, when you’ve had this many babies, your uterus is a little stretched out (I told you these were the gory details) and doesn’t push the baby down as well.  So, not only was I not dilated, but when the baby isn’t engaged, the doctor can’t break your water (dangerous because the cord could come down ahead of the head, resulting in an emergency c-section).  I know some people are against interventions during childbirth, but the breaking your water intervention is my favorite one, as it always results in me having the baby.

So I started out on pitocin, not dilated, no water breakage in the foreseeable future.  This is the boring part.  The part where a chick flick is in order (does it not seem fair to make your husband watch a chick flick when you’re in the hospital having a baby?).  I chose The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, which was good enough to watch, but not good enough to worry about rewinding every time someone came in to check on me.  Matt opted for X-Files reruns on his iPod (what did we do before those?).

Some of you will be very interested to hear that I had my first epidural, which we had the anesthesiologist place early on, knowing that by the time I was in pain, there wouldn’t be time.  More on the epidural later. 

After several more boring hours, my OB decided I had progressed enough to break my water.  Not long after, the nurse became a little concerned that the baby’s heart rate was dropping more than she’d like with each contraction.  This resulted in a cycle of watching and waiting.  They would turn the pitocin all the way off, slowing labor way down, then turn it back up slowly to see how baby tolerated it.  They had me change positions several times, to see if that helped.  This went on all evening.  Ultimately, with the water broken, I continued to progress, the baby was never in grave danger, and I was complete by 9 pm or so.

Then came the pushing, which took much, much longer than ever before because I couldn’t feel a blessed thing.  I wasn’t in pain, of course, but I found it very frustrating to try to engage muscles that were completely numb.  Still, after pushing through several contractions, we had a baby.  It turned out he was wearing his umbilical cord like a little shawl around his shoulders, which would have created some compression with each contraction, causing his heart rate to drop.  We were all a little surprised that he weighed only seven pounds, but he was otherwise perfect in every way.  And we were grateful.

For those who are interested, I have a final word about the epidural.  While I concede that not having pain is almost always a good thing, if I was having another baby (which I’m not) I would go back to natural childbirth.  [Keep in mind that my labor usually goes very fast, and I’m only in real pain for about twenty minutes or so.  Also keep in mind that I’m a pretty calm sort, not prone to “freaking out” in these situations.]  The epidural made my legs so numb that I couldn’t even adjust myself in the bed.  The nurse had to literally roll me over.  At first it was kind of funny,  but I disliked feeling powerless to control my own body.  It also made me feel a little sleepy, and certainly less alert.  In the past, the natural pain of childbirth has compelled the pushing, often feeling like the baby was nearly pushing itself out.  This time, I had no desire or inclination to push, and as mentioned, couldn’t figure out how to do it very well.  And because I wasn’t in pain, the actual moment of birth wasn’t nearly as euphoric as what I have experienced before.  Both physically and emotionally, natural childbirth for me is completely empowering, and I missed that feeling.  Finally, my legs were still pretty shaky the next morning, which I also disliked.  I didn’t dare get up on my own, or take a shower until later in the day.  This made me feel powerless as well.  I am not the type who passes judgment on doctors, hospitals, the childbirth industry, or any other woman’s choices regarding childbirth.  But I know most women appreciate learning from one another’s experiences, and this was my experience.  I guess my point is that I think some women might enjoy natural childbirth, and should consider giving it a try.

If you’re still actually reading this, did I leave anything out?  I’ll post some more pictures soon.  Thanks again, everyone, for your support.


11 thoughts on “the gory details


    I am one of those people who love hearing all the details, so thanks for taking the time to post this. I am so glad that you and Thomas are safe and that Matt has been able to take several days off. As you ask, I will remember you in my prayers the next few days. The first few days “Daddy” goes back to work have always been a struggle for me.

    I was interested by your comments at the end on natural childbirth vs. the epidural. From what I’ve read, epidurals often work better (in terms of not being too strong) than yours apparently did, so that’s disappointing that the too-strong epidural was your experience.

    I am also a person with very fast labors and I have never had an epidural (I never planned to have one–but I don’t know that it would have been an option either–things go really, really fast). I appreciated your comments though, because they validated what I have supposed myself. Even when you feel pretty good about your own choices (as I have felt) it is always interesting to think about that grass on the other side. “Is it greener? My friends say it is greener. But do they know? They haven’t tried _my_ grass. I think my grass is nice and green! But maybe I don’t know any better, I’ve never tried their grass . . .” etc.

  2. Sarah R.

    I’m so glad everyone is doing well. I remember when Samuel did the light therapy, and people asked us why we were “scanning” the baby!
    As for your epidural, I’m sorry it wasn’t completely satisfying! I guess it’s good to know what you like! It sucks to feel liked you missed out on something. I’ll probably never go with out, because then I’d know what I was missing with the first three! I think my body was made for epidurals. I can always walk right after, and I’ve never had a problem with the pushing. I can’t really feel anything, but I just do what I see them do on “A Baby Story,” and usually a baby comes out! Of course, my last epidural was a little strong considering the baby just fell out with no one there. Oh well! Hopefully things go well with Matt back at work.

  3. danielle

    I love all the details…I read it twice! And I think it is especially helpful maybe for someone who has never gone through it. I especially appreciated the part about the epidural. I had an epidural and it was such a smooth experience. I wasn’t tired at all, my legs felt fine, but I did feel a little bit sleepy. Anyway, obviously I was so happy when she was born, but it did feel a little…I don’t know, anticlimactic isn’t the word…just different than I had thought. And hearing how this was for you totally describes it. Avery’s whole birth took less than 6 hours from the time that they turned on the pitocin (I had to be induced due to preeclampsia) to the time she was in my arms, so hearing that you have fast births and liked doing it natural really makes me feel like I want to try it next time. Who knows how things will all shake out though. Anyway, geez enough about me!

    Glad you are feeling well. And bless that husband of yours!

  4. Marla

    So glad you’re doing well and little Thomas is well and healthy. I loved all the details. Tell Matt he’s a saint. And I’m sure R and R will fix anything that went wrong upon arrival.

  5. anne

    Glad for the deets. Thanks. I feel like I have been lame–have hardly talked to you. I’m up to my eyeballs in New Beginnings, so after tomorrow night things will be more calm around here.

    Anyway, interesting about the epidural. That sounds like the one I had with Blaine. I hated not being able to move my legs, etc. The one I had with Rog was picture perfect–I could even feel the contractions and could feel to push. It was like I had just enough pain to know what I was doing, but not so much that I couldn’t cope (because I AM the freak out type).

    I think you should write a post now about what a miracle Thomas is. Because, really, he is.

  6. Nana

    Loved this Liz, see you soon. Glad Matt and Vicki have been so great, our turn next week, good planning on your part! We are so grateful for yet another miraculous grandchild. We are all blessed! Hope Sam gets better soon, poor guy. Love to all. And I’m so glad YOUR blog lets me comment easily.

  7. Robin

    I hadn’t realized that all your other births were natural–I guess that goes along with your quick labors. My experience with epidurals has been great up to the actual pushing part, and since my labors go on for ten or twelve hours, I think I would have gone insane without them. However, on the one that I had naturally, the pushing time was like five minutes and I was up and walking around as soon as they finished stitcking me up, whereas with the epidurals my pushing time was a half hour with one, and an hour and a half with the other, and I wasn’t able to get out of bed reliably on my own for at least two or three hours. Of course, the one I had naturally was only a four-hour labor, which made a big difference in my ability to endure it!

    Anyway, hope you are able to get through the first few weeks at home. We would love to have Mary come over on one of the days that Lily doesn’t have preschool to give you some time off. I know it’s so hard with a clingy older sibling. We can’t wait to see your new little guy!

  8. kira

    I had an epidural, but because they broke my water before I got it I was already into full on labor and it wasn’t working like it was supposed to. I was in so much pain that by the time the baby was born I could hardly focus on being happy I was so exhausted…even though it was like 45 minutes. Funny how it is different with everyone. I’d rather deal with numb legs and feel like I can enjoy my new baby. Guess I don’t deal with pain very well! :) Next baby I’ll be demanding to have my epidural in plenty of time to make sure it is working properly!! I still cringe when I think about how painful it was!

  9. Jen H.

    I think every woman should try natural childbirth once. I’m working on Amy, you should join me in the encouragement! ;) Congrats though. It’s all so exciting! In 9 weeks, I get to share my birth story and I can’t wait! Your baby is seriously so cute.

  10. liz Post author

    No one will probably read this now, but I just wanted to thank everyone for sharing their thoughts and their stories. I think this is quite an interesting discussion about childbirth, pain, and epidurals. It’s so important to know that everyone is different, and what’s right for one person isn’t the same for another. Really great comments. Thanks.


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