Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fifth time's a charm

When one does a hard thing, such as running a marathon or climbing Mt. Everest, one prepares for the worst and forms contingency plans around the worst happening. When one proceeds to run the marathon again or retackle Mt. Everest (presumably off the proceeds of the book one wrote about doing it the first time), the valuable experience gained the first time around informs the second venture, but the contingency plan is not discarded. One still must assume the worst.

Forget the third person here. In my previous four labors, I followed a recognizable pattern: labor started, it got progressively harder, and then I had a baby. I assumed this pattern would repeat itself, and if there were any deviations, it would be because something had gone wrong. But the pattern didn't repeat itself this time. And it didn't get worse.

It got easier. Not easier as in, "I know what to expect, so I can knuckle through it." Easier as in for three hours after the midwives arrived, I laid in bed and read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and enjoyed it. Easier as in I would have thought that labor had stalled out entirely except that I kept dilating. Easier as in twenty minutes before baby was born, I was standing around with my hands on my hips saying, "I know something has to happen here sometime." (The midwife was still laughing about that the next day.)

I laid in bed. I looked at the tomatoes in the garden. I ate breakfast and lunch. I quick-stepped up and down the stairs in an effort to get up a contraction that the student midwife could monitor. Low-key doesn't even begin to describe it. There was no hard labor. There were almost no painful contractions. I was in no hurry, but once Jack went down for his nap and the girls went for a walk with Grandma we decided to have the midwife strip the bag of waters so that we could have the baby before Jack woke up. And then I braced for the transition that never really came (I think maybe my legs felt a bit shaky) and the three-minute contractions that didn't show up. Sure, there were a few hard contractions that let me know things were moving, but nothing like in the past. And then I was bored with waiting around and decided to push (in the absence of any pushing contractions), and baby finally shook a leg and made her appearance.

Was it orgasmic? No. She got a little stuck and they had to give her shoulder a nudge, and nothing could be further from orgasmic than having a body wedged in your birth canal. That was pretty uncomfortable. And then there she was, and eventually she stopped yelling long enough to nurse. Then the afterbirth pains hit, and they were definitely the worse than any contraction I'd had that day.

I've tried in the past to be honest about my labors (pretty painful) and I guess this is the flip side of the coin -- sometimes it isn't that bad? Maybe it makes a difference that this was my fifth jaunt around the block? I do want to say that I don't think I could have had such an easy labor if I wasn't at home, where I was completely comfortable, and with midwives I trusted who never pushed me to rush things along. I would take this almost-fourteen-hour labor over any of my previous, including the less-than-two-hours I spent on #3.

So there you have it, and if all you mothers out there never speak to me again, I'll understand.


Kate said...

My second labor was not really very painful. I tell people it was hard work - but honestly, I didn't actually realize it was real labor. (This turned out to be not a good thing, as it was 7 weeks premature). When I got to the hospital, the nurse who checked me in didn't believe I was in labor. I made conversation, I was able to get around - until I got shaky and got that 'pushy' feeling the whole thing was surreal.

My mother claims that, once she got doctors that would leave her alone, her labors were also not very painful. I know that she was canning tomatoes while in labor with one of my brothers.

So yeah, that's the flip side of being honest about labor and birth - that, honestly, excruciating pain and intense drama (as depicted in media so often) is just not not the experience of all women or all labors.

Rebekka said...


bearing said...

Lucky you! How did you know for sure when it was time to call the midwives?

Emily J. said...

I love labor stories - Congratulations on an easy one!

With my fourth, I sat up to go to the bathroom, my water broke, and the baby came out. Wish they were all that way. I always feel a little guilty about it, but only a little.

Jordana said...

None of my labors have been quite that easy, but my fifth (which was an induction with pitocin) was pain free until transition and pushing -- and transition and pushing only lasted 17 minutes total.

I'm guessing I won't get that lucky again with number 6, should this baby ever decide to come out.

Anonymous said...

I only had four, but you struck a nerve for me about the afterpains. That was the worst part for me! Truly agonizing. As for labor, it wasn't fun, but it wasn't the worst pain of my life, either. However, I always had pretty short labors.

mrsdarwin said...


The midwives had told me to call whenever I had three real contractions, regardless of how far apart they were, because of how quickly some of my other babies had arrived. As it was, I fudged that for a while, because I just didn't feel like my contractions were strong enough in the middle of the night. Finally I managed three contractions about eight minutes apart and called them around 6:30 am. Then things seemed to stop entirely, and I thought I'd called for nothing, but when they checked me I'd dilated to 4 cm.

Amber said...

Wow, that's great! I'm glad you got to experience an easy one. I've known they are possible (my last was particularly easy) but I've always felt like a freak when saying that. I'm so glad that this one went so smoothly!

eulogos said...

With my fourth I only had a few painful contractions, and with my ninth, only one...the one time I thought I would try getting in bed and lying down-I quickly got up and didn't get back in bed until after the baby was born.
I had to ask the midwife to check me because I could tell she didn't really believe I was in labor-I was 7 cms and the bag of waters was bulging.
I actually apologized to her for my labor's being so easy, saying, "I don't act differently than anyone else when I have hard contractions, but I think it just doesn't take much to dilate me at this point. "

I might point out that between #4 and #9 there were some which were more difficult.
Susan Peterson

eulogos said...

Oh, and by the way, my fourth just had her second this evening around 6 PM.
I can hardly wait to see her!
Susan Peterson