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10 Things I Wish I Could Change About Eli's Birth

In the first few days after giving birth, I told everyone that though it hurt (oh dear God in heaven, it hurt) that I had a pretty easy labor. I mean, it was only 16 hours long, I only pushed for a little over an hour and I had this perfect little boy. He’s still our perfect little boy, but as time has passed, I’ve started to reflect more on my labor experience and there are a few things that keep sticking.

I don’t know if my expectations were too high because our hospital was supposed to be “Baby Friendly” and as evidence based and up to date on birthing as possible, but there are things that I think about now that I wish I could do over. These are the top 10 things I wish I could change about Eli’s birth.

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  • 1. Not walking during active labor 1 of 10
    1. Not walking during active labor
    (Sidenote: yes, this is the most attractive picture that has ever been taken of me. Thanks for commemorating this moment, honey.) When I got into active labor, all I wanted to do was lay in a tiny ball and cry. And I think that my compromise of laying in bed and keeping my legs crossed probably slowed my labor. Keeping myself in bed and tense did very little to help the pain and probably intensified it.
  • 2. Going home at 3am 2 of 10
    2. Going home at 3am
    The day before I had Eli, I had been having contractions for a solid 10 or so hours. They were largely not painful, but I could tell they were picking up throughout the day. And when I got to bed that night, it was like someone flipped and switch and the contractions got real. We waited until they were 1 minute long and 3 minutes apart before heading to the hospital. Because I was already 3cm dilated, my OB didn't want me to wait too long. But when we got there, I was still 3cm, and 2 hours later after constant contractions 2-3 minutes apart, I was still 3cm (I was effacing, but still). And so they send me home. Within an hour and a half, the contractions had amped up and we went back to the hospital...where they were out of rooms. So for 2.5 hours, I sat in a folding chair in the hallway, in active labor. I don't know if they would've let us stay if we asked (they acknowledged that I was in labor), but next time I'll ask.
  • 3. Not making a fuss in that hallway 3 of 10
    3. Not making a fuss in that hallway
    The 2.5 hours in the hallway were probably the worst pain I've ever experienced. And I had no ability to cope with the pain, I had no ball to bounce on, no spaces to walk and even making noise felt awkward, though eventually I did, not voluntarily. I wish I had been more insistent, because we later found out there WERE rooms, there just weren't nurses and if we had been more emphatic, we could've at least gotten to go to the triage room so I could labor in private.
  • 4. Getting the epidural as soon as I got a room 4 of 10
    4. Getting the epidural as soon as I got a room
    When we returned to the hospital at 5am, I told my husband I wanted the epidural. I had previously decided I wanted to avoid it, but the combination of being sent home and coming back and then the hallway laboring were too much. But once I got into a room and a bed, it did get a little more manageable. But by that point the anesthesiologist was there and I wanted pain relief. I don't regret the epidural, but I do wonder from time to time if I could've avoided it.
    Photo from RaveDave on Wikimedia Commons
  • 5. Getting an epidural bolus *before* a cervix check 5 of 10
    5. Getting an epidural bolus *before* a cervix check
    My epidural started to wear off after my water was broken and the contractions were getting more and more intense, so the anesthesiologist gave me a bolus of a different med that made me completely numb from the waist down. And while it gave me instantaneous pain relief, we found out 15 minutes later I was fully dilated and effaced and ready to push. I couldn't even hold my legs on my own because they were like dead fish that I had NO control over. And so the first 30 minutes of pushing was like a giant exercise in futility. If I had held off on the bolus, which wore off and then I was able to push efficiently, I might not have had to push as long as I did.
    Photo by MorgueFile
  • 6. Not keeping the name a secret longer 6 of 10
    6. Not keeping the name a secret longer
    This one is pretty inconsequential, but it felt a little like some of the fun was taken out of the announcement because our families both knew the baby's name before he was born. Next time we may tell them what we've narrowed the names down to, but the final declaration will be made after he or she is born.
  • 7. Not asking more about my internal injuries 7 of 10
    7. Not asking more about my internal injuries
    Once Eli was out, I was just so excited to have the baby that we didn't really ask a lot about the damage. They told me I had internal tearing and just a grade 1 external tear and we kind of said, oh, okay and let them carry on with the stitches. Once the epidural wore off and things got real, we discovered that those internal tears had been kind of a big deal since my urethra was involved and for several days I was essentially incontinent. Had we known, it might have made the subsequent days and weeks a little less scary and stressful.
    Image from WikimediaCommons
  • 8. Letting them take Eli for a bath during shift change 8 of 10
    8. Letting them take Eli for a bath during shift change
    After our 2 hours of skin-to-skin, they took Eli for his first bath while they got me cleaned up and ready to move to the postpartum wing. However, we didn't pay much attention to the clock and so he went during shift change. It was almost an hour and a half before I saw him again and it was just awful. My husband texted me (he was with him most of the time) to keep me updated, but still, the wait was excruciating.
  • 9. Not being more insistent about breastfeeding right away 9 of 10
    9. Not being more insistent about breastfeeding right away
    When Eli first came out, he was a little lethargic, but was getting better. We had 2 hours of skin to skin time, during which he made zero attempts at breastfeeding. Our nurse, who was a certified LC tried to help, but she couldn't elicit a root or a suck reflex, and so we didn't push it. She assured us he had 24 hours before it became an issue, so we relaxed and just enjoyed our time with him. And we maintained that sense of calm until we hit the 24 hour mark and he still had no inclination to eat and had to be supplemented by an LC. I don't know if being more insistent and less relaxed might have changed our outcome, but I know that next time, I'll try to be calm, but I won't be so laid back that I don't address a potential problem.
  • 10. Not staying a second night in the hospital 10 of 10
    10. Not staying a second night in the hospital
    Eli was born at 4:01, and typically if babies are born after 4pm, baby and mom stay 2 nights. Because it was so close, they let us decide. I was ambivalent, but my husband really wanted to go home, mostly because there weren't any LCs around the next day and so the extra night in the hospital would've been largely useless. But after that first night home, I realized how nice it would've been to have someone else deal with breakfast and trash and all the other stuff at home, so we could get a little more rest. Next time I'll stay as long as they'll let me (since our insurance covers it!).

What, if anything, would you change about your labor and delivery experiences?

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