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If you're considering having an epidural-assisted birth, here's a little insight from someone who has had three of them.
This is the story of the birth of my third baby.
At my final prenatal appointment, I was 3 centimeters dilated and requested my doctor sweep my membranes to hopefully jump-start the labor process. She did the sweep at 11:30 a.m. that day; I had a scheduled induction the next morning at 6 a.m. As it turns out, I never made it to my induction appointment.
By that evening, I was spotting and cramping a little. I was bummed about the lack of contractions, so to keep myself busy I vacuumed, obsessively cleaned and finished packing for the hospital. After putting my two kids to bed and coming downstairs to chill with my husband at 9 p.m., the cramping seemed to be getting stronger and more regular. This is when I started timing them with a random app I had downloaded the day before. (My doctor had instructed me to come into labor delivery when contractions were consistently 2-5 minutes apart.)
Take a look:
Um, it might be time to go to the hospital.
Well, the app says it is.
OK, yeah. We're leaving.
Of course, when we actually arrived at the hospital, the contractions started getting further apart.
A little after 10 p.m. I had my husband call his mother to hold down the fort at our house while the kiddos slept. We left for the short drive to our hospital at 10:30 p.m. After walking in through the ER entrance, I requested to be taken to labor delivery. (The receptionist asked, "Are you having contractions?" Um, yes!)
I was wheeled up and my cervix checked in at 6 centimeters, which surprised my nurse because evidently I should have looked like I was in more pain. My poker face fooled everyone, I guess.
Getting the IV started was probably the most traumatic part for me because ... needles. (Yet the epidural itself was no big deal? This makes zero sense, I know.) Anyway, I had my epidural started at 12:20 a.m. After the initial poke from the numbing injection, I felt mostly pressure from the epidural placement itself. Once it started working, the epidural made the contractions feel like they were slowly easing up until I couldn't feel them at all. My legs felt heavy, too, but I could still move them.
The on-call OB-gyn broke my water shortly afterward, which just felt like a lot of pressure. A catheter was used at some point to empty my bladder, which only felt like pressure, too. By 12:45, I was 7 centimeters dilated.
Because the epidural also made me feel sleepy, I drifted off for a while until I woke up to vomit because my blood pressure was very low. (Apparently, this is also a common side effect.) The nurse ended up giving me ephedrine through my IV, which brought my blood pressure back up while also making me feel a bit jittery.
At 2:05, I was at 8-9 centimeters, and I was fully dilated by 3:20. Five pushes (lots of pressure!) and an episiotomy later, baby girl was born at 3:33 a.m.!
This post was originally published in April of 2016
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.