Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

Choose a Topic:

Aug '10


Today Carissa is thirteen days old. If she were Wesley, yesterday would have been the day we were allowed to bring her home from the hospital.

Our birth experience this time was vastly different from Wesley’s. Both labors were about the same length (eight hours), and I delivered both babies without pain medication like I planned.

My labor with Wesley wasn’t too bad, but I had a hard recovery. This was because I had high blood pressure during labor, and to prevent seizures I was given an IV with magnesium sulfate. “Mag” (as the nurses call it) is rough stuff. It’s a smooth muscle relaxer that has lousy side effects. I was bleeding too heavily, my uterus wasn’t contracting, my speech slurred, I couldn’t sit up in bed without passing out… I was basically totally out of it. When they handed Wes to me after he was born I was too exhausted to hold him or even care much. A few hours later, John and I were dealing with the surprise news that Wes has Down syndrome. It’s not a big deal now, three years later, but at the time we were devastated. With all this together, I remember lying flat on my back in bed and wondering if I was going to get through it. You’re supposed to be on the mag for 24 hours following delivery, but because I was handling it so poorly my OB took me off it after just 12. And once I was off it, what a change! Things got better from there. I could start to enjoy being a new mom.

With Carissa, it was a little bit the opposite. The labor was the hardest physical work I’ve even done (and hope to ever do), but once she was out things were OK. I didn’t have high blood pressure with her, which was a relief. With both babies my back hurt during labor; the difference was that with Wesley, it was manageable, but the back labor with Carissa was indescribably painful. It overwhelmed everything. I had prepared for labor and delivery with breathing techniques that helped me through Wesley’s birth. Breathing and relaxing takes a giant bite out of the discomfort of uterine contractions. But it does nothing for back pain.

I often wondered during those eight hours how I was going to get through it. I was so tired, and tired of the pain. The nurses reminded me to stay in the moment, focus on each contraction, and then relax, and don’t worry about what’s coming next. (Which is good advice.) I often thought how much easier it would be with some pain medication. But I knew what I wanted deep down, so I pressed through it. I was so grateful John was there. And I quickly saw that switching from an OB to the midwives (which I had done around 33 weeks) was a brilliant decision. My midwife stayed with me for nearly all my labor. AND she helped with pain management by pressing on my hips and legs during contractions to help quell the back pain. She showed John how to do this, but (and though I love him) John didn’t have the same knack for it as she did. But John was indispensable; he kept telling me what a good job I was doing, and even though I didn’t believe him, it kept me going.

After a while it became clear that the baby’s head was presenting at a weird angle. It was drawing out the labor and probably also causing that ridiculous back pain. Again, I was grateful for the midwife and supportive nurses who instead of offering intervention like forceps or a vacuum suggested different positions to help with things. They did suggest breaking my water but left it completely up to me whether I chose to or not. We discussed the pros and cons and in the end I decided to do it, and I don’t regret it.

At what felt like long, long last I was ready for pushing. I have heard (and seen videos) of women giving birth where the baby just kind of falls out without them having to push or bear down, and maybe someday that will be my privilege, but so far that hasn’t been the case. I think that pushing is about the hardest part of baby delivery. You are so ready to be done. It is such hard effort to push and make your pushes effective.

But at the same time, it is the best part. This time, perhaps because I wasn’t doped out on magnesium sulfate, I could fully appreciate my baby being born. John would tell me what a good job I was doing, and that I was almost there, almost done, that he could see the top of the head, and just a little bit more.

The very best part of the whole day was the moment the baby slipped all the way out and the midwife placed her on my tummy. All the pain, all the struggle, was gone. In their place was total relief. And awe. To finally see the little person that had been growing inside my belly for the last 40 weeks… Sometimes I didn’t think there really was a baby in there, yet here she was. I was amazed by how calm she was, lying on my tummy. Her eyes were open and she was alert but relaxed, as if being born and taking her first breaths of air was no big deal. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

The hardest part was over. The better part was beginning. Without the mag or any other drugs in my system I was alert and able to watch the nurses bathe and measure her. I got to pick out the little bow for her hair. Sometime during my labor dinner had been brought in, and now I got to eat. Talk about a welcome meal. Two hours after she was born I was able to stand and walk.

My mom and dad happened to arrive in town an hour or two before Carissa was born, and my mom came by to visit. We moved to my recovery room, and 24 hours later, we checked out of the hospital.

Wes was born with a long list of medical risks, and he came home from the hospital with an oxygen tank and sleep apnea monitor. The only thing we had to watch with Carissa was her bilyrubin numbers (for jaundice). I took her to the hospital three times to be tested, but eventually the numbers came down on their own without needing light therapy.

Carissa is doing well, and so are we.

1 Comment »

One Response to “Carissa”

  1. tara72 Says:

    aw she’s so cute!!! and wow, you did really well with your labor and delivery. I’m impressed. I’ll ask you in another few weeks if you’d do it like that again. :)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.