Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Labor and Delivery: the Fragrant Elephant Experience

Pinoy food triggered my labor -- or so Fragrant Mother would have you believe. On The Day Of, we did indeed travel to Quincy to eat at JnJ Turo-Turo, where I polished off lechon kawali and pinakbet, and my contractions did start when we were walking back to the train station.

But this was after we went for my scheduled OB/GYN visit. It was two days after my due date, and I was still only 1 cm dilated. My OB ruptured my membranes, which she said had a 50% chance of getting my labor started. Then she scheduled me for an induction in a week, which calmed my deadline-focused mind.

So Fragrant Husband went into the office, and Mama and I hopped on a train because she really wanted to eat fried tilapia. Afterwards, as I felt contractions and began wondering if this was really it, she mentioned that she'd seen some women go into labor a few hours after their membranes ruptured.

Labor Pain = Hell

I took a nap as soon as we got home, only to be woken up by painful contractions. I ran a bath, which helped a bit. Husband texted to check in. "Laboring in bath tub," I replied. He hopped in the car to come home...except it was Friday evening and he got stuck in rush hour traffic. Meanwhile, my contractions were becoming unbearable. I had us go to the hospital almost as soon as he arrived.

In triage, they found me 3-4 cm dilated, meaning I could be admitted into the labor and delivery (L&D) room. The very awesome nurse asked me if I wanted to labor in the tub for a while, and I said, "NO PLEASE GIVE ME AN EPIDURAL IMMEDIATELY." I had previously watched a video of an epidural being administered and decided that it was more terrifying than labor pains. Now that I was going through actual labor, it was clear that a needle followed by a catheter in my spine was the right choice for me.

I was right. My mood improved instantly and I no longer had the urge to elbow my husband in the face for making encouraging comments. And I could drift off to sleep while in labor! Epidural heck yeah!!!

The "Smoothie Labor"

Per her contract, Mama gave me a hard time about choosing pain medication. "You won't even take Tylenol PM," she observed. "What happened? I thought you were tough."


It turns out that there's a saying in the Philippines: "By the time you get to active labor, you'll have paid back your mom" (or something like that). Since the epidural completely took the edge off the pain, I had what my mom called a "smoothie labor" -- easy and chill.


Another reason that my mom disapproved of the epidural was that it apparently prolonged labor. "Not true," said the nurse. "It prolongs labor slightly. It's really the pushing that takes more time with an epidural."

Boy, was she right -- I pushed for two hours, starting at four in the morning. My left leg was so heavy that another nurse had to prop it up. I couldn't feel anything down there, so when the nurses would say, "Push like that! There! There!" I had zero idea what they were talking about.

The attending OB came in and was so concerned about my lack of progress in the first hour that she started talking about assisted delivery or worse...a C-section. That was the one thing I wanted to avoid. The prospect of major abdominal surgery, combined with a standing mirror that they brought in so I could see what was happening, galvanized me into doing a better job of pushing my baby out.

Towards the end, I hazily remember stirrups being set up and a crowd of people suddenly around the doctor. The mirror was gone by then, because I hadn't wanted to see my episiotomy. I was audibly complaining by this time as I pushed in time with the contractions.

And then BAM! a burst of amniotic fluid arced through the air. Mama, a former L&D nurse, leapt nimbly aside, but the OB had to sit there and get drenched. I got a slimy, screaming infant on my belly. The L&D team wiped him off, slipped a cap on him, and I was officially a mom!

Nine months later, we finally meet.


That is all.


This post brought to you by pizza and lentil soup.

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