16 February 2010

How to have a baby in just 45 minutes

Occasionally people have seen fit to tell me how lucky I am to have fast labors. And it is true that I have absolutely no desire to go through one of those 50 hour pitocin-fests culminating in C-section in which one of our local hospitals seems to specialize, and I have nothing but deep sadness and righteous anger for those who are subjected to such torture. For the interested, however, here is a look at precipitous labor.

My first labor was, as my beloved and ever more useless Bradley book would call it, a textbook labor. It started definitively with hard contractions that gradually increased and lasted 13.5 hours. My four babies since then have combined for about half that time: 2.25 hours, 2.5 hours (41 wk med-free induction via water breakage), a little over an hour (ditto), and most recently and terrifyingly, a little under an hour. These times do not include "false" starts.

If I were to think of that first run as a standard stomach bug, the others would be food poisoning. Over faster, but considerably more characterized by panic and violence, and subject to the relevant repercussions, kwim? This last one was Mexican restaurant food poisoning, the most exquisite I've ever enjoyed. If I had a choice . . . hey, why isn't "gin martini" among my options?

There seems to be some perception that a baby in a hurry just pops out much to everyone's surprise, and then a good laugh is had by all. Maybe that happens to some people--goodness knows there are unlikely-sounding descriptors applied to "birth experiences"--but you might tick off someone who has fast labors by assuming/implying this. When I've been there, the moments of truth are monstrous as whales, and that business at the end is still very much a matter of loathsome will.

Once there's a baby in your belly, there's just no good way of getting the dear thing out.

"For as the swift monster drags you deeper and deeper into the frantic shoal, you bid adieu to circumspect life and only exist in a delirious throb."


Untamed Shrew said...

You're right--there's no good way to get the dear thing out. But I'm still envious of those who never have to be induced or get IV abx. With this last one it took 18-ish hours just to get me to 3cm, at which point my merciful OB ruptured me, turned off the Pit, and Juliet was born one hour later. Far worse than not having pain meds was not having sleep.

Monique said...


When I first heard of what you had been thru my heart sank. Our bodies are simply not made to have a baby ripped out in just 45 min. A slow, long and progressive labor is far more natural and what the human body is designed to do.

I’ve never had an unusually rapid delivery, but I can imagine how terrifying it must have been. Once you realized you weren’t going to make it to the hospital and that you were going to have to deliver on the side of the road, in your car, for crying out loud!!

With my fifth delivery, I had a very traumatic labor that even now is still difficult for me to talk about. There was a point when I genuinely thought I was going to die. I kept repeating the Lord’s Prayer over and over because I wanted those words to be my last. When I hear of other woman with similar experiences, it makes me shudder.

And to know that you, dear sister, are willing to suffer through this AGAIN.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Rebekah said...

Joy, that must have been some serious non-sleepage, because I cannot begin to imagine anything worse than labor pain. :P

Monique, you're so pious. The two times I thought I was going to die, my last words would have been, "I'm going to die." Sigh.

But--yes, terrifying is the word. And we didn't proceed to the hospital just out of habit or for a really expensive 24 hour vacation. Hearing other people tell how their subsequent labors have been free of certain problems typical of the first time around is when I get jealous.

The memories, as you say, are not pleasant to revisit, and the fear for the future is what my husband has been busy trying to talk me out of for the last 6 weeks. Or actually, the last 7 years.

Untamed Shrew said...

I can handle the labor--even 3 to baby in 60 minutes. The birth has me thinking I'm going to expire, and my words are, "God save me!" How Monique keeps her head in the midst of terror is beyond me.

Gauntlets said...

Oh, friends. How terrible. Oh, now I'm feeling so very sad.

I hate dying. I'm really glad none of us has.

Marie said...

Not that you really want to give thought to this, Rebekah, but what about next time...? You've got me thinking, as my first was 43 hours, second, 12 hours, and #3 was 3-10 in one hour (thankfully, had just made it to the hospital, and had that crazy transition hour starting in the reception area). But, yeah, what about next time? Will your DH "train", will you plan to just have a home birth (not like the midwife will make it there anyway!), or do you think this was a fluke? If this is too depressing to think about, you can write a blog about it in another 2 years, or so=)

Melrose said...

Rebekah, thank you so much for writing this. You are not alone...not even close. Less problems the second time around? That makes me jealous too...for me it's only been harder and more dangerous. For the past 6 weeks I have been sitting here agonizing over my recent birth and my dear husband has been doing the same thing as yours, trying to talk me down from the limb hanging me over the cliff of fear and terror...

I almost died twice this time. My labor was 6 hrs but transition and pushing were about 10 min total. His head was sideways and he was looking up with his hand next to his head. As I tried to push him out I began screaming and sobbing. I could feel the way he was coming, could feel myself ripping, could see the terror in my husband's eyes as he watched our baby attempting to present where there was no place to come out. My heart felt like it would explode and like you my last words would have been "Im dying."

But, amazingly, he suddenly righted himself and came out in a rush. I sat shaking and stunned as I clutched my newborn to my chest. An hour later as I spoke on the phone in the comfort of my bed, the bleeding began. 7 hrs, one ER, two ambulance rides later I was in surgery for 3 hrs then had 2 blood transfusions to save my life.

When I tell the story I feel like Im talking about someone else. How can a young healthy woman who knows all the "right" positions and noises to make and labors calmly (until she knows she's near death)have such horrible problems?

Next time...ohhhh next time (cue crying). Lord have mercy.

Marie- I have several friends and two sisters who have had labors under an hour. They have all (except one of my sisters) gone on to have long labors on the subsequent children. One friend had a labor under 3 hrs and her next was 36, crazy! So though it can happen again, it certainly could be longer again too.

Bikermom said...

It took me three additional babies to get over my fourth labor as far as the constant fear in the mere thought of going through labor. Polly calls my labor and delivery strategy the Agnus Dei method. "Lord Have Mercy, Christ have Mercy, Lord have mercy" to the tune of your favorite liturgical setting and by the time I get through that in my head, that contraction is over. It has helped the last two and even the back labor of number seven it saw me through till my wonderful doctor was able to turn him and relieve my terror. A Crucifix helps but decided the little nurse on the help button on the bed was Jesus as the image was close at hand. Not trying to be pious but it certainly helped me through two deliveries. I am thinking I should probably pray more about all this NOW as I think I am naively thinking number nine shouldn't be a problem and frankly haven't given it too much thought but I prayed for nine months before Ingrid and she honestly came quite smoothly minus the back labor which seems to plague me. Martin, now 11, stayed sunny side up through delivery and wanting to and feeling like I was going to die set me up for years of shivering at the thought.

Dakotapam said...

With the twins I was laboring for a long time, for me...7 am until 3:30 pm...but then went from trnasisition to abby A in under 10 minutes...five of which were taken up by pushing my bed to the OR for delivery...rolled in at 4:00 Elizabeth born at 4:04...and that time was taken up by moving from bed to table, announcing imminent death and begging for relief... I need to look on Wikipedia to find out who figured out nitrous oxide was good for pain relief...I'll write him a thank you note:)

Baby B was positioned just like Merose's baby...but also had a prolapsed cord...she was pushied back in and and then vaccumed out...good thing I don't remember that!

Far better was my nice slow labor and dleivery of the 11 pound baby...I'll take that any day truly...

I declared that there would not be a next time in the OR...but I've said that before:)

The Mama said...

Pam- pushed back in and then out? oh, dear. That sounds appallingly horrible!
Melrose- everytime I talk to you or read about this last one's birth, I just get such a chill.
Birth is truly an act of faith- why else would we keep doing it?

Untamed Shrew said...

Good grief, Mel, you've got me in tears! I'm in awe. ((hugs))

Rebekah said...

Marie, I do have some thoughts on that under construction. For now I'll just say that until now our determination was always that although I'm a good candidate for homebirth, our location is not (from both personal and legal perspectives). But when your options are homebirth or carbirth, the location question gets complicated again. :(

And, everyone . . . Kyrie Eleison. That's all I got.

Melrose said...

Yes, Lord have Mercy indeed:

and 2 Corinthians 11: 21-33

Beth said...

Oh, I definitely KWYM as far as repercussions... My last was an hour long labor of a 7 pounder that just "shot out" of me. It was the worst recovery I've had. Several weeks of pain and tears.

But my 9 pounder that took 13 hours? I was feeling normal again in 2 days!

I too have had progressively faster labors, and yes, it worries me for the next one...

Katy said...

I remember after my first (one of those horrible induced-because-the-baby-didn't-come-"on time" events that tore me up terribly), I felt like I could talk about it forever, to anyone who would listen, and that embarrassed me (who wants to talk about THAT?!)

But now I know everyone else who has gone through a birth(once or again and again) likes to talk about it, too, whether it was "wonderful" (?!) or much like the horrors described here.

My mother-in-law knows someone who describes her births as "the baby just swims out." I can't say mine are that easy, but the contractions are definitely more work than the pushing. The worst pain was with #1 when the doc pulled my placenta out so he could repair the induction damage/stop my bleeding. T afterbirth pains with #3--the most recent--were HORRIBLE. Almost made me want to stop nursing.

So what do you guys answer when the nurse asks, in a monotone voice, right as you transition "How would you describe your pain, from 1-10?" So far I've said 6 or 7. Hopefully I will never experience a 10 (flaying or scalping?)

Our youngest, a month old on Sunday, took 3 hours (after a month of labor). He was 42 weeks and 1 day. We were sorta-kinda unsure about the actual due date, and gave ourselves some "cushion," declining the 8-week ultrasound. I am so glad we did, because I do not want another induced labor, unless it is necessary.

Does anyone know why this "41 weeks and time's up" trend started? It seems to be peculiar to American obstretics.

Also, is there any way to treat beta strep? I'm 3 for 3 and IV and baby monitors are supremely annoying (not that I ever have enough time to get the required dose...)

Praise God for mommies and babies who survive a birth!

The Mama said...

About group B Strep- you can google about garlic, kefir, and hibiclens. The best tact is to treat prenatally so you get a clean screen result.

Anonymous said...

After 13 births I can attest that no two births have even been remotely alike. All of mine have been home births except for the first - 36 years ago I didn't think about a home birth for the first. This birth was probably the worst experience. Bad enough that I didn't want to go to the hospital for birth anymore. The other hospital birth was the next to the last was at a hospital too after 36+ hours of labor - I was exhausted but after arriving at the hospital nothing was wrong and he was born within 1 1/2 hrs. complication free (should have stayed home). This labor began with an interesting twist our water bed heater caught on fire. We had to drain the bed, & take it outside - I tried unsuccessfully to labor in my daughters bedroom for over 24 hrs. and we finally decided to just go to the furniture store and buy a new bed which was delivered that day. Sure is fun trying out beds in a furniture store while going through contractions. : ) So thus all the drama prolonged the labor and I got really tired.
My easiest birth was # 7. We lived in Wyoming and it snowed in the Big Horn Mts. which the midwife had to travel over to get to our house. My husband delivered Bekah, because the midwife didn't get there in time and it was the BEST delivery! I had a medical dr. and lay midwives for all the other births. We never planned to have them without help. But the Lord helped us when we needed his help.

I have learned to not dwell on past births but to look at each one as a new journey and a new experience one that the Lord will help me through. I also have LEARNED to trust in the Lord during labor, pray and listening to hymns really helps. I have learned to LEAN on the blessing that the Lord has given to me for my support during this time of labor - my dear husband. I could never have had 13 children it he had not been there supporting and helping me each step of the way.

As the mother of George Washington once said "“Remember that God is our only sure trust. To Him, I commend you . . . neglect not the duty of . . . prayer.”

Try not to worry about the up coming births. Remember each day has enough troubles of its own. God will help you. Trust in Him. Debbie S.

Rebekah said...

Katy, I hate the pain scale too. Makes no sense.

Reb. Mary said...

I like the pain scale when they have those little faces on it. So you can point to the writhing fire-breathing dragon and they can get the subtle hint to either step a little livelier or back out of the room slowly. All this talk has got me really looking forward to May :P

lisa said...

Our L&D rooms don't have the pain scale posted on the walls. Instead, they have a sign that says "Are you in pain?" posted on the wall across from the bed. Last time around I made my husband tear it off the wall. That made me feel better.

Ewe said...

My 1st labor was a 2 hour car drive but the first time they checked me at the hospital I was 9 1/2. #1 was born not even an hour after I arrived at the hospital. The midwife told me that my labor was a lot worse than the typical labor because my body didn't have time to adjust at each stage. I believed her even though I had nothing to compare it to.
We rushed to the hospital with #2 being afraid that it would be a fast labor like #1. 12 HOURS later he was born.
I was induced with #3. I went from 5 to complete in 20 minutes. The midwife did not make it for the birth, the tub was not started to be filled with water for waterbirth. My water broke and he came out all at once. I held him for just a few minutes because then I got all shaky and cold. It took about a 1/2 hour under warm blankets to feel well enough to get out of bed. The best description I had was that my body was in shock to deliver that quickly. As bad as that felt, I was so thankful that he was out of me before the deadline for induction was up and they would have tried more drugs. All kinds of people stopped me at the hospital on the way out to tell me they never had a birth that fast before. The midwife recommended that I always am induced because she doesn't think I'll make it to the hospital if I'm not induced. I disagree and think that the induction caused the quick delivery.
Since #3 is almost 2 years now, I can laugh about his quick delivery. If I do get pregnant again, I'll have a problem deciding when to go to the hospital. The hospital is 1 hour away.

Dakotapam said...

Rachel...both of my inductions ended in birth far too precipitous and uncomfortable for my taste... sadly, both were probably medically necessary. Owen was 41 weeks and failed a non stress test, and the twns were twins...I'm just thankful that malpractice insurance has not interfered any farther into that territory...and truly..had I been pregnant ONE MORE DAY I may have been delivering in the psych ward...

I pray for no more inductions...

Jody S. said...

Yes, Google Hibiclens. It worked for me. Just, please, dilute it as directions say. I do not ever want to test positive for that again!

Also, while this may not help some, it may help others. It did help me. www.spinningbabies.com

I go to a practice that has both ob/gyns and cnms. One CNM has fast births...too fast to get to the hospital. The last two she just planned a homebirth--even though law says no. I think, at least, have a homebirth kit on hand. . . even if a trip to the hospital will follow. Hey, be prepared :) Depending on your ob, maybe discuss your options? Afterall, I don't think you'll get in trouble for being ready and trained if your baby comes quickly.