5 Misconceptions I Had About Labor

*Note: If you’re currently pregnant and you feel feelings of immense frustration and terror when moms share their birth stories, click away from here and go to your happy place on Pinterest or something. While I don’t consider my experience to have been all that bad or scary, I know it can 100% sound that way to a super hormonal first time mom. So go grab yourself some chocolate and we can swap stories later.

*Additional note: Don’t worry. This will not be in graphic detail. Keep eating your lunch.

Baby Elliott (2 t’s, y’all) has arrived! He showed up rather surprisingly on September 24th, 2014 at 12:16am, weighing in at 8lbs 1oz. He is perfection.

Getting him here though… Wowza. I had this whole birth plan laid out and ready to go but wound up throwing the entire thing out the window from the moment Elliott let me know he was on his way. Here’s my plan versus what actually happened:

Beginning of Labor

My Plan: Labor peacefully at home, handling the contractions like a boss.

What Actually Happened: My water broke while watching TV; struggled to handle the contractions in any kind of boss-like capacity.

This moment was 1 of 2 times where I felt like I was in a movie. Nothing was going on, we were watching TV, everything was calm, then – POP. And I didn’t even get a chance to acknowledge what was happening before I was doubled over in pain yelling at Will that this was it. So much for laboring at home concentrating on those cleansing breaths I had learned in birthing class. It was “GET ME TO THE HOSPITAL” and “THIS HURTS” time in a mere 5 seconds.

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Out for a walk with MONSTER HANDS about 45 minutes before I went into labor.

Getting to the Hospital

My Plan: Calmly and casually walk out the door with hospital bag in tow. Easily catch every green light.

What Actually Happened: Chaos, panic, red lights.

And this moment was 2 of 2 times where I felt like I was in a movie.

The second my water broke, our apartment went from a place of peace and relaxation to a lot of yelling (me) and running around (Will). We of course hit nearly every red light on the way to the hospital which, now that we’re no longer in that moment, was comical. My face was pressed up against my window as I endured contraction after contraction, and poor Will was trying to not completely drive over the people in front of him while at the same time remind me to breathe in and out.

Admission into the Hospital

My Plan: Go straight to Labor & Delivery.

What Actually Happened: UMMMMMMM, whoever thought it was a brilliant idea to have laboring ladies fill out paperwork upon arrival was insane. Why don’t doctors have you fill out this stuff ahead of time? Shouldn’t they be hyper-aware of how hard it is to read, initial, sign and date a bunch of medical papers during contractions? SHOULDN’T THEY? Sorry. I’m still bitter.

Anyway, after I filled out a bunch of paperwork, I was finally admitted and moved to Labor & Delivery. Will unpacked all of the items necessary to get me through labor while the nurses got me situated on the world’s most uncomfortable bed.

Labor

My Plan: Au naturale. No medical interventions unless absolutely necessary.

What Actually Happened: An absolutely necessary epidural.

From the beginning of my pregnancy, I was totally against getting an epidural only because to me, getting a needle inserted into my spine was much scarier and more painful than labor itself. (HA.) So Will and I, with the help of our birthing class teacher, readied ourselves for natural labor. We learned all of the labor exercises, bought an exercise ball, stocked up on high protein snacks. Will even made me an 8.5 hour playlist so I could distract myself from the pain by belting out Beatles tunes and swaying to the soothing goodness of Bon Iver. We were prepared.

But my contractions were so quickly terribly painful and I couldn’t catch a break. According to books I had read on labor, the first part of labor is gradual and allows for 5 minute breaks in between contractions. The contractions look like small hills on the computer screen, thus appearing easily conquerable. Then, when you’re close to the end of active labor, the contractions are around 2 minutes apart and look like mountains. Here’s what one site has to say about this last part of labor:

This is the most intense part of labor. Contractions are usually very strong, coming every two and a half to three minutes or so and lasting a minute or more, and you may start shaking and shivering…. You may feel nauseated or even vomit now.

Sounds dreadful. And it was – because the above description was me after just 3 hours of labor, yet I was nowhere close to the finish line. By the time the doctor came in to meet me for the first time (my original doctor was out of town), I was best friends with the room’s trashcan. Will and I tried everything to lessen the intensity, but I didn’t know how much more I could take. During a brief pause in which I wasn’t on the brink of screaming, the doctor asked me if I knew how long an average first time labor lasted. I managed to squeak out, “12 to 16 hours” before diving back inside the trashcan. He nodded silently and waited for me to come back up for air to ask for an epidural.

Life was much easier after that.

Elliott’s Arrival

My Plan: Have him then hold him.

What Actually Happened: Elliott was a meconium baby, meaning he performed his first bathroom incident while he was still in my stomach. Or in plain English – he pooped. It wasn’t a huge concern, but sometimes babies can inhale the mess along with the amniotic fluid, and that can pose some problems. To be safe, NICU was called into my room and were on standby in case Elliott needed additional and immediate assistance. Thankfully there were no complications due to the meconium, but to be on the safe side, the NICU staff took him to the other side of the room to clean him out. After he was good to go there, they went ahead and weighed him, measured him, etc. He was probably with the staff for 15 minutes but it felt like an hour. Will stood by his side the whole time though and was the first to hold him. Though I was disappointed I couldn’t snuggle Elliott as soon as I would’ve liked, it was a sweet and special moment for Will that both of us will always treasure.

Meet Elliott William Kooi.
Meet Elliott William Kooi.

Altogether, I labored for a good 13 hours – plenty of time to reflect on the entire crazy, weirdly wonderful experience. My takeaways were these:

– Contractions are indescribably painful which is why I am thankful 100 times over for God’s wisdom in making it so that I don’t remember the pain at all, otherwise Elliott would be an only child.

– No matter how perfect you make your birth plan, chances are you won’t be needing it because babies and bodies are unpredictable.

– Labor goes faster when you have a solid support system helping you through it. Big love to my husband, mother-in-law and best friend for keeping me entertained, refreshing my ice chips and holding that green bag for me while I puked. You all deserve gold medals.

– The epidural was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, though it did give me great insight into what it’s like to be a 90 year old woman.

– I’ve never appreciated a single sip of water as much as I did when I was finally allowed to have one after Elliott was born. Rag water isn’t very satisfying.

– That first glimpse of Elliott, even though he looked like a chubby-cheeked discolored alien, was the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen in my life. “Love at first sight” is a real thing.

So that’s my story. It only took me 3 weeks to get this thing written which means you can probably expect the next post to be written in, oh, 2 months from now?

In looooooove.
In looooooove.

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