What I Wish I Had Known about Labor

If you all have been following along, you know I like to be prepared. I feel like we were pretty prepared as a couple.  After all, the books, classes, research and blogging should have made up for the bulk of my lack of experience right?

Up to a point.  Here's where I play the game "I Wish I Knew."

I wish I knew that the labor clock starts when you tell them your water broke.  My water broke at 8pm and I thought I had 24 hours from the time I was admitted before they would push a C-Section.  I would have told them my water broke shortly before I arrived at the hospital at 11pm to give myself more time to try for a vaginal delivery if I knew my baby was a size that I could actually birth.

I wish I knew that babies can go into distress based on which side of your body you lay on.  Ben's fetal heart rate dropped when I laid on my right side. I don't know how often he did that when I was pregnant but when I was admitted and they hooked me up to fetal monitoring and I moved from my left to my right side for comfort, he had a steep heartrate drop.  I would have avoided laying on my right side during the pregnancy had I known there was a risk of compromising baby's bloodflow.

I wish I had known that once I was admitted, there would likely be some reason to require being hooked up to monitoring and as a result, I would not be able to freely go to the bathroom.  I actually should have known this but the childbirth classes led me to believe that most people have a free range of motion to labor as they wish.  I packed a birth ball for goodness sake.  All for nothing. I would have made sure I went to the bathroom before going to to hospital to empty my bladder and bowels so I would be comfortable and not need to go to the bathroom and not be allowed to.  

I wish I had known that contractions compound the feeling of needing to void one's bowels but nothing will come out.  When my contractions started, I thought I just really needed to go the bathroom.  I wasn't allowed to because of the whole fetal distress monitoring but when I was finally allowed to go, I wasn't physically able to void.  It was so uncomfortable.  During the pushing period of my labor, the nurse manually excreted my bowels to make more room for the baby to pass through what was already a too narrow passageway.  I would have had an enema before going to the hospital to make sure my bowels were empty and not have to deal with any of that mess.

I wish I had known that I wouldn't be able to eat or drink at all starting from when I was admitted to hours after surgery.  I was allowed ice chips and that was it. I was dying of thirst.  I don't know what I would have done differently in this case, as I did vomit water during the end of my labor, but I just wish I had known to prepare myself mentally. 

I wish I had known how distant and violent a c-section would feel like.  Where the labor process felt animalistic and primitive down to the core, like being nothing more than an instinctual experience, the c-section felt clinical and detached.  It was almost futuristic in comparison to all the reading I had done.  The drugs made me woozy so I couldn't hold my baby comfortably for hours after birth.  It underscored my confidence as a mother.  I wouldn't have done anything differently because I was able to experience both sides of the coin but I would have liked to understand that those feelings were a natural part of c-section instead of feeling insecure in myself post birth. 

But mainly, I wish I had known that everything I had stressed about, the time I spent on my birth plan, everything that was disappointing or surprising wouldn't matter in the end.  It all feels like a past life. I became a mother.  I would have read less books about childbirth and more books about parenting. 

Because this is seriously a wild ride.

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