My 38-Hour Induced Labor Story | Epidural Birth Story
Here is a not-so-positive 38-hour induced labor story. This is how we welcomed my firstborn, Anders, into the world.
My son Anders was born two years ago, but before my third child arrives, I wanted to share the birth stories of my first two children since I had them before I started this blog. Check out my daughter Lydia’s birth story after this!
Deciding to Get Induced
My pregnancy with Anders went well, but during the final few weeks of the pregnancy, I started to experience excruciating back pain and contractions on and off. I wasn’t sure if this was normal or not, since it was my first pregnancy.
As a first-time mom, I had dreams of having a short, natural birth, but I didn’t have the experience or preparation under my belt to give me confidence in my decisions. My doctor told me he was worried that my baby was measuring large and encouraged me to get induced. Because of the pain at the end of my pregnancy and my lack of knowledge, I agreed to be induced.
At 39 weeks and a few days, I arrived at the hospital at midnight on Sunday night/Monday morning to get induced. The doctor on call told me that I was already three centimeters dilated and having mild contractions. She said it would probably be a fast induction! I was super pleased and excited to meet my baby soon!
The Start of the Induction
Around three in the morning, the nurses officially began my induction. Later that morning, they checked me, and I had barely progressed. My own doctor eventually showed up and said he would try to break my water to get the labor moving. He explained that when the water breaks, the contractions usually become much more intense, so it might be a good idea to get the epidural beforehand.
As previously mentioned, I imagined going into labor naturally and attempting to go without the epidural. But at this point, nothing had gone according to my plans. I decided to get the epidural before I really had bad pain. Also, while researching and watching labor vlogs to prepare for birth, I learned that Pitocin used during inductions can make contractions unnaturally painful.
My experience getting the epidural was EXCRUCIATING. Since I was barely feeling any pain from the contractions, I felt every sting of the epidural. My husband even teared up seeing me in as much pain as I was. The first time the anesthesiologist tried to insert it, I flinched so bad that it didn’t work. He got it the second time, but I had clenched my teeth so hard that my jaw hurt for a couple days.
I had never heard a mom say that getting the epidural hurt, so I wanted to mention that it is a possibility! You usually hear about the relief it brings. My experience traumatized me to the point of never getting the epidural again (I have now gone on to have two births without the epidural).
The First Mention of C-Section
After the epidural was in place, I relaxed in bed until the doctor came to break my water. He tugged at the bag of amniotic fluid for minutes, but he couldn’t get it to break. He said this never happens. That’s when he started to mention C-section, and the panic and fear set in.
I don’t remember seeing my doctor much for the rest of the day. I was stuck in bed with the epidural, and labor wasn’t even progressing. My back became so uncomfortable. The nurses tried giving me a peanut ball and had me change positions often to do everything we could to help labor progress. Another thing that moms usually fail to mention is how the hospital forces you to have a heartbeat monitor on the baby the whole time. Every time the monitor slips even slightly out of place, nurses have to come in and fix it. I felt like it was a crime to flip over because a nurse would rush in looking annoyed about having to fix the monitor.
I Regret This
By Monday evening, I still hadn’t processed any more. That night, I felt so discouraged that I began to cry. I did not want a C-section. I wanted to experience a vaginal birth the way God designed it. Also, my small-town hospital would not allow me to have a VBAC in any future pregnancies.
Tuesday morning, my doctor returned to attempt to break my water again. He said we would have a baby today by 7:00 P.M. that day no matter what. This basically meant that if I didn’t progress enough, I would have a C-section that day. I felt really frustrated and helpless. I wanted to ask if I could just go home and start over another day. If I knew what this would be like, I would have never agreed to get induced.
At this point, I was going on about 30 hours of labor. I had gone even longer without food. After a miserable night of munching on ice chips and laying in a stiff hospital bed, I was running pretty low on hope.
My Labor Finally Progresses!
Thankfully, my doctor was able to break my water! It was a tough bag of water!
After breaking my water, I started to dilate quickly. It still took several hours to fully dilate, but I felt excited and renewed again.
Eventually, I reached 9-10 centimeters, but the baby still hadn’t descended enough for me to push. It took awhile for him to come down into the correct position.
Around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, the nurses surrounded me and suggested we try some practice pushes. They asked if it was okay for some students to come in and observe. I agreed, but the room ended up feeling quite crowded. I wish that I had fewer people in the room when I was giving birth because it was a stressful and vulnerable experience. Also, “practice pushes” are actually just real pushes without the doctor present, but I didn’t know that. Looking back, I was pretty naive about giving birth at a hospital.
When you don’t feel the natural urges to push, pushing is really hard. I pushed for about an hour and a half, and I still heard talk about C-sections. I told the nurses that I was determined to have this baby vaginally, so I pushed as hard as I could.
Eventually, the nurses told me that my baby was almost out. They asked me to try to hold him in while they get the doctor. Overall, the whole labor and delivery felt ridiculous, even though this is a common birthing experience for women.
The doctor was apparently taking his sweet time. The main nurse told the nurse next to her that if he didn’t come, she would deliver the baby. The baby was nearly out, so she assumed that I was in a lot of pain, but I couldn’t really feel it. I mean, I wasn’t comfortable, but the most pain I felt was just an intense pressure right at the end.
Finally, the doctor showed up right at the last minute. I got an episiotomy…and I may have pooped a little. I mean, I was stuck in bed for two days, so what do you expect?
After 38 hours of labor, Anders was born and laid on my chest. My first thoughts were, wow! He is so heavy! You kind of forget how much weight you’re really carrying around in that pregnancy bump.
After giving birth, I felt dazed. I couldn’t connect my arms to my brain to tell them to hold onto my baby. I have no recollection of my husband cutting the umbilical cord. The nurses kept saying, “Here’s your baby, Avery. Here’s your baby.” After a moment, I started to come to. I put my arms around him and started soaking him in.
Physical and mental relief flooded my body after giving birth. I looked forward to having the peaceful skin-to-skin hour that my hospital promoted. It was actually not peaceful at all considering the doctor was stitching me up for most of the hour. Nothing like holding your precious baby for the first time with the sting of Lidocaine down below and your bloody legs spread apart in stirrups for everyone to see.
After Giving Birth
While I was giving birth, I had numerous family members and friends in the waiting room. I felt cared for having all these people waiting excitedly in the waiting room to meet our newborn baby. But after such a long and arduous labor, I was EXHAUSTED.
We eventually invited our parents into the room and then hosted the rest of our family and friends that night. As the epidural wore off, a terrible tailbone pain set in. As my friends and family passed my son around, I remained glued to the uncomfortable hospital bed. I was definitely excited to have them all there, but I wish I had asked them to come the next day, so I could enjoy it as well.
I loved my baby boy so much, and giving birth to him was such an honor and blessing. However, as difficult as the labor and delivery was, the recovery was probably harder. After he was born, we stayed in the hospital four more days (for a total of 6 days in the hospital).
I Just Wanted to Go Home
When Anders was born, he wasn’t using half of his body as much as the other half, so we struggled to breastfeed. He was weak and didn’t have great muscle tone. But I didn’t realize how unusual this was until I had my second baby.
The nurses continually pressured me to keep trying to breastfeed even though it wasn’t working. He lost a lot of weight in the hospital. There was clearly an issue with Anders’ latch, but the nurses were never there long enough to notice. I was exhausted, and I felt like I was on my own.
Because of my excruciating tailbone pain, I could barely walk. I couldn’t lift my baby out of the bassinet. I couldn’t even stand long enough to shower until two days after giving birth. All I wanted to do was go home and take care of my baby in the comfort of our own bed. As a first-time mom, I had difficulty finding my voice and feeling confident in the decisions I wanted to make for my baby.
Having a baby is one of the best things you can experience as a woman, so I think I tried to convince myself that my experience giving birth was wonderful. Months later, I realized that I felt a lot of hurt about my delivery and hospital stay, and I would even say it was traumatic.
We’ll Never Know
Anders had developmental issues that we dealt with for the first year of his life. After seeing a chiropractor and physical therapist, we eventually came up with the theory that he was in a weird position in the womb. This may have caused my bad back pain at the end of the pregnancy as well as the tailbone pain that lasted three months after he was born. This may have also resulted in him having weaker muscle tone in one side of his body and the developmental delays he experienced in the first year.
I also wonder if all the induction techniques and antibiotics I took for Group B Strep contributed to our challenges. Sometimes, I look back and grieve the decisions I wished I made at the end of my pregnancy. I wish I would have been more educated, prepared, and self-assured, so I could have cared better for my baby, but that’s just not what happened. We will never know if it would have gone differently if I had made different decisions, so I try to come to peace with that.
Thankfully, Anders shows no signs of any of those developmental issues, and today, he is thriving. I am continually in awe of my firstborn, and even though I had a traumatic birth story experience, I would do it over and over again! Reading my story, you may think this sounds pretty typical, and sadly, it is! I wanted the natural experience of giving birth on my own body’s timing with as few interventions as possible, but it felt like medications, inductions, and C-sections were more of the norm for my doctor.
With my second baby, I switched to a midwife and had a totally different experience. My daughter’s birth story was definitely a redeeming experience, so check out Lydia’s birth story! I actually had my second baby less than a year later (Irish twins!)!
*Update: I did end up getting induced with my third baby. That experience was way more positive. I advocated for myself and my baby so much more and used as few intervention techniques as possible. It is possible to get induced without so much trauma.*
Now, I hope my 38-hour induced labor story doesn’t scare you, but gives you the honesty you were looking for about an induced and medicated labor experience. Some women have fabulous induced labor experiences, but overall, I think giving birth as naturally as possible is easier to heal from, both physically and mentally, for both mom and baby.