Word on the street is that first-time moms are nervous about giving birth because they don’t know what to expect, and second-time moms are equally as nervous because they DO know what to expect!
After my water broke with Mazen…waiting for contractions to start with acupuncture
I am reaching the point of pregnancy where I am starting to realize that my baby is going to have to come out one way or another. It’s kind of a paralyzing feeling because there is no easy way out. I felt a heel or knee the other day – some kind of limb – from the outside and it was HUGE! (I also know that when I am *hopefully* 39.9 weeks along I will laugh that I thought the limb I felt at the end of the second trimester was “huge.”)
I would say in general I am much less nervous about labor this time around. That is partly because I know what to expect (although this birth could go in a completely different direction, I am aware.) But also because I am convinced that it will be shorter
and easier than Mazen’s birth. Of the many second-birth stories I have heard/read, very few births (if any) were longer/harder than the older siblings’. (Third babies, on the other hand, seem to be a wild card!) In fact, quite a few of the second-birth stories I’ve heard have happened in almost alarming short periods of time, from 2-3 hours from first contraction to birth, and in “I barely made it to the hospital” style. That’s not to say that there aren’t tons of second-timer stories out there to prove me wrong, but of the people I know and have talked to, many of the second births took what seems like half the time of the first (while just as intense, as it always will be.) At the very least I am hoping this belief might act as a placebo effect to work in my favor to move things along quickly!
I hoped to have a drug-free, natural birth with Mazen, and that is my plan for this baby as well.
If you read Mazen’s birth story, you’ll find that I wrote the following a week or so later:
So would I go drug free again? I don’t know. A day later I was telling people no. A week later….as I write this story….I think maybe. 3 years from now? I might have the courage to try it again. My number one goal for going drug-free was just to experience what womankind has gone through for ages. That goal has now been achieved. Maybe next time I’ll get an epidural and have one of those A Baby Story labors where the women sleep until they are 10 cm and push with a smile on their faces. But the good news is that I don’t have to choose now or even with my next pregnancy. I will have until I’m in the moment of labor to decide, and if my next labor is anything like this one, I’m guessing I just don’t even think about an epidural as an option. It felt so off limits to me – not because I wouldn’t “give in” but because I didn’t even know how to ask for one, who to call or how it all worked. If I didn’t have time to fix my pony tail, how was I to focus on getting pain relief? It was almost easier just to keep doing what I was doing.
I most definitely have some kind of amnesia about the pain because when I think back to what was hard about Mazen’s birth, I think about throwing up, or how the tub water got cold, or about the loud growling sound that came from my mouth, but I don’t really think about how it felt. I remember an intense all-consuming pain just above my pubic bone and how out of it I was, but I almost look forward to feeling that again. Isn’t that kind of odd? It has to be a hormonal reaction.
When things started to get real…
I am still terrified of long needles. And catheters. And slowing labor down. And feeling out of control of my own body. So epidurals are still a scary option for me. I’ve done natural birth before – I haven’t had an epidural before. So if we’re weighing them equally, I’d rather go down the path I have gone down before.
I did spend some time on a forum reading about 100 posts from people who had had both kinds of birth: drug free and epidural. While there were definitely people who said their epidural was a dream, an overwhelming majority of the people who had had both preferred the drug-free delivery for a variety of reasons – the epidural hurt, it didn’t work properly, they had epidural side effects like terrible headaches, they got more of a natural rush from the drug-free birth, they liked feeling their bodies in the drug-free birth, the recovery was easier, etc. Reading about these women’s experiences having had both options, I’m still not really interested in an epidural.
There are only two ways you could convince me to go into labor wanting one:
- If I just had to take a pill or snap a finger aka there was no needle, no catheter, but the pain would go away. Duh, I’d choose pain free. (I know there are people who say “I couldn’t feel the needle at all!” But there are others who say you can and it was bad, and I have to assume I’d end up with one of those experiences.)
- If you could guarantee that I would have a lovely, smiley, pain-free birth that went complication free for both me and the baby. I could tolerate a needle/numbness for that.
But obviously those two things are not possible. To me going drug free again, especially since I am really hoping for a shorter birth, is the easy choice. My whole family thinks I’m a little crazy for wanting to go natural again, Thomas included, but I just have to do what makes me feel most comfortable.
I do feel the need to state that I’m talking about healthy baby, healthy mama scenarios here. That is the most important thing for every mom approaching birth. If I need a medicated induction, pitocin, or a C-section for any reason that relates to the baby’s safety, all of my fears and choices go out the window. But as long as I have a choice, I’m planning to go into this birth with the same plan as last time: husband, doula, natural.
We have arranged for a doula again, although she’s a different one from last time. Jen wasn’t available, and I’ve become friends with our new doula, Betsy, through the gym. She was a childbirth educator for many years, and we’ll be meeting with her once or twice this summer at home so Thomas can learn a bit more about labor and delivery. (I can’t wait to make him squeeze the ice cube to simulate contraction coping!) There is a small chance she might miss our birth because her daughter is pregnant and due a few weeks after me, and if that happens we will put our trust in the wonderful nurses at Martha Jefferson.
In terms of contraction coping, one thing I want to focus on changing this time around is my attitude towards the contractions. Last time they were 90 seconds each, back to back, and I had no break in between. I did a LOT of moaning, yelling, growling – all the loud noises. I do think a certain amount of that was uncontrollable, but I would like to try to relax through them a bit more instead of tensing up so much. I think tensing led me to accidentally pushing, which led to the cervical lip swelling, which probably made my birth a little longer and harder than it could have been. This time I want to try to make my body a ragdoll and really relax into each contraction so they can do their job. (Easier said than done, right?!) But I don’t want everyone in the room to think I’m not feeling anything or not experiencing a tremendous amount of intensity. I’d like for my support team to ask me how I’m feeling on a scale of 1-10 so I can communicate in a short answer like “a 9!!!!” without needing to yell to let them know it hurts. Does that make sense? Again this might all go out the window the second I have my first strong contraction, but it’s something I have been pondering.
I’m also not planning to do any acupuncture this time (unless I am facing a medicated induction the next day), because I think that’s what caused my water to break first, which is not the ideal order of things in terms of pain and pressure! (So I have heard based on personal experiences.)