Leo just turned six weeks old on Saturday, so yes, it’s taken me a while to get around to writing up our birth story, but it’s been a busy time.
Leo was very big. His ultrasound estimates were putting him at 5 kg (11 lbs), so the doctors wanted to induce before I was full term. At 37 weeks, I went into hospital for an induction and three days later, I checked out, still pregnant. It was three days of contractions, afterward I was exhausted and disappointed.
A week later, I went in for a second induction. The first time I had been given the medication orally, which they planned to start out with the second time, but I asked for the medication in gel form to be put on my cervix. Within a few hours, I was getting nice strong contractions and my cervix had started dilating. I was in labor.
A Bad Reaction to Pain Medication
The midwife on duty wanted to give me some pain medication to help me sleep, so I could get some rest before the big show. One of the side effects was possible nausea, and I raised objections, since I was already pretty nauseous from HG, which I’d suffered from the whole pregnancy. She said not to worry about it, gave me the injection and sent me back to my room. By the time I’d gotten to my room, one floor up from the delivery area, I was dizzy. I made a quick trip to the bathroom to prepare for bed, and by the time I got in bed, the room was spinning. I vomited several times and got no rest that night. I felt miserable and don’t recommend this type of pain medication for anyone suffering from HG. Feeling the contractions would have been much more restful.
Getting the Epidural
By late morning, things had progressed enough for me to stay down in the delivery area. I was given an enema (I recommend these, they aren’t that uncomfortable and you don’t have to worry about pooping during the birth), then the anesthesiologist came in to give me the epidural. It was the same doctor that had done my epidural for Oliver’s birth, and the insertion of the catheter into my spinal column had gone really well that time, so I had no worries. I scrunched up, which is very uncomfortable when you’ve got a big belly and are having contractions, but I figured it’d be done in no time. It took 6 tries to get the catheter in. Every doctor and midwife who saw me afterward said it looked like someone had used my back as a pin cushion. I don’t think it was the anesthesiologist’s fault, my back is a mess, but in hindsight, this was the worst part of the birthing process, much more painful than the birth itself.
Because of his size, the doctor was worried about injury to Leo’s shoulders during the birth. In fact, I had been offered the choice between being induced and getting a c-section. There weren’t any openings for a non-emergency c-section for several days though, so I chose to be induced immediately. At this point in the birth however, I asked the doctor if it was too late to change my mind. He said it’s never too late.
Around 7pm, my cervix was fully dilated. At the same time, there was an emergency c-section and both gynecologists were in the operating room, so the anesthesiologist came in to my delivery room to help out. The midwife manipulated my legs to help Leo make his way through the birth canal while I pushed. Within a few minutes, the birth was over.
Saturday evening, thirty hours after I started getting contractions, Leo was born, weighing in at 4510 grams (almost 9 lbs, 15 oz).
A Scary Beginning
I looked down and saw that Leo was limp and purple. He wasn’t breathing at first and was immediately whisked off to the pediatrician. His 5 minute Apgar score was good, so there was really nothing to worry about, but all I could think about was that I wanted my baby.
He was doing well, but was put into the newborn station for observation for his first 3 days. It drove me a little crazy to be apart from him, but I was having trouble with my right leg, so I was kept busy with my own issues.
It seems while Leo was being born, his head knocked my lower vertebrae out of alignment and irritated some of the nerves in my pelvis, so for the first few days, my right leg was numb and tingly (like when your leg falls asleep), and weak. I was seen by a neurologist and got an MRI done of my leg and pelvis, which ruled out anything permanent. At six weeks postpartum, I’m getting sharp, stabbing pains in my back. My leg tires out quickly and the sole of my foot still gets numb occasionally. It doesn’t sound like it, but I am making progress.
The End of HG
I had read accounts that as soon as women suffering HG to the end had given birth, their nausea was gone. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for me. The nausea improved day by day. Two days after the birth, I was able to go without anti-nausea medication. I got a bit motion sick in the car on the way to the neurologist, but managed without the medication. By four days postpartum, the nausea was completely gone. My husband asked me how I was feeling that morning and when I answered, “Okay,” he said that it was the first time in 8 months that I hadn’t said, “Terrible.”
A Difficult Homecoming
On Tuesday after the birth, we were released, and as soon as we got home, we heard that my father-in-law was not doing well. Rainer and Oliver jumped in the car within an hour of Leo and my homecoming and made the five hour trip to my in-laws. My father-in-law passed away that evening.
It wasn’t an ideal start as a big brother for Oliver, with us bringing the baby home and then “sending him away,” but it couldn’t be helped. Once he was back, he ignored the baby. It took two weeks before he wanted to touch or kiss the baby. Now he’s a great big brother though. If Leo is crying, Oliver is very concerned and tells me to hurry up because the baby is sad. He gives the baby a kiss when he leaves for day care and when I pick him up, and at bed time. He’s very gentle and thoughtful towards Leo. I try to have one-on-one time with him as much as I can, which isn’t a lot, but as Leo gets older, he’ll be able to have mom’s attention more and more.
Interestingly, with Oliver’s birth, I had a lot of trouble remembering much of the details, but with Leo’s birth, I can remember every little thing. Perhaps it was because Oliver’s birth was more painful and traumatic (Leo’s went pretty smoothly and I didn’t even have to cry out once), or maybe because it’s my second time around.
Have you found you can remember one birth better than another?