For Expectant Mommies Mommy Anecdotes What's the Difference?

The 2011 Labor & Delivery Story

So here it is.  If you haven’t read my previous Labor & Delivery Story, I would suggest you do to get a perspective of where this is all coming from.

EVERYONE was telling me to expect that:

  • Labor the 2nd time around would be much faster and much easier  (ie movement from 0-10cm dilation would go by so quickly that, while painful, would be bearable.  There may not even be time for an epidural!)
  • With second pregnancies, you may not even make it to your due date.
  • The baby may be bigger than your first, but not by a whole lot.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  NEVER BELIEVE IT! (Am I making this phrase popular or what.) Okay so maybe that’s an exaggeration.  You be the judge.

A much faster, easier labor?

At my March 11 check-up, I had already progressed to 2cm.  Given that I went from 0-9cm with Sam in a span of 9 hours, I figured, hey I’m having a baby tonight! And, while I could feel the contractions, I wasn’t in an unbearable state of pain.  So it was looking up.

You may not even make it to your due date!

March 16, Wednesday.  Three days overdue, I went back for another check-up.  But oh!  The good news, said Meg, was that I had progressed to 3cm since Friday!  (uhhhhhmmmmm….).  This was frustrating.  Why was it so slow?

In any case, Meg decided to strip my membranes and try and speed up my labor.  So again, anytime between tonight and Sunday.  Come in if your contractions are steadily 5 minutes apart for an hour, were the last things she said to my husband.

True enough, the contractions did progress.  They were regularly 7 minutes apart.  By Thursday at 2AM, they were 5 minutes apart, for an hour.  I woke up my husband asking if we should go to the hospital as Meg advised.  We debated this for a while because I was still fairly lucid, albeit uncomfortable.  We remembered what the midwives said about being in real labor before, so we were wondering if we really should go in already or just wait. They might just send us home, and I really really didn’t want that!

Against both our better judgment, we did go in to get checked.  “You’re still at 3cm“, Susan said with a sympathetic smile.  WHAT?!

They didn’t send us home, but we opted to leave anyway because given how slow everything was moving, it could still take days.  More than that, we were anxious about Sam, since she woke up as we were leaving and started to cry when she saw me going out the door.

For the rest of Thursday, I wasn’t in any pain I couldn’t handle, however it was highly uncomfortable to do much.  We tried all sorts of distractions and finally at 10PM, just as it was Michael Douglas’ turn to entertain us with Wall Street, the pain intensified.

At 2AM Friday, March 18 — I was huffing and puffing through it, and even Stephanie the midwife on the phone heard the difference in my voice.  Let’s go have a baby! She said. Hurray, finally.  My husband was trying to be nice during the car ride saying possibly that I was 6 or 7cm already, given I was huffing and puffing this way when I hit 9cm before with Sam.

My Mommyology Anesthesiologist Look-Alike
Why do we meet such men under such circumstances?

Again I am checked and Stephanie looks bewildered.  The contractions are regular and more intense versus yesterday, but (wait for it) – I had only progressed to 4cm!  We were all surprised, but nonetheless, Stephanie requests for my epidural and I am happily distracted by my Ben Affleck look-alike sound-alike anesthesiologist.

After two tries, they get the epidural in, but I can still feel some pain on my left side.  I’ve heard of this happening as well with a couple of friends, and the epidural is again adjusted, however in my case, they were worried about my scoliosis and wanted to try other methods first.  The pain anyway wasn’t unbearable, I just couldn’t sleep through it.

Three hours later with little progress since Ben, Stephanie orders Pitocin, again to speed up labor.  The shifts change and another set of nurses take over.  Jenny is now the midwife on-call.

My Mommyology Pitocin
It does work! And fast!

After an hour of Pitocin the pain on the left gets quite unbearable that I need ice chips and the already bruised arm of my husband by my side.  Jenny checks — we’re almost 10cm and it looks like this baby will come any minute.  FINALLY!  But with us this close, would I still want my epidural adjusted, they ask.  Doing so will prolong the process.  We decide against it — I am at that point when I just really want my baby in my arms.

The 2nd baby may be bigger than your first, but not by a whole lot.

At 1030AM, Jenny comes back in and asks me to start pushing.  I can still feel something, which she says is good so I know that I need to push through it.  In twenty minutes and after a terrible surge of pain that actually causes me to scream involuntarily (like they sometimes do in the movies — apparently it is not so much an exaggeration), Jamie is finally FINALLY out.  Apparently she had her hand up by her face too, so it was harder to get her out in one push.

She weighed 8 lbs,  3 ounces.  That’s at least 2lbs heavier than Sam.  It makes sense, Jenny says later, bigger baby takes longer.  But because you could still feel it, you did get her out in record time.


Each baby is different, and apparently so is each labor and delivery story.  For one reason or the other, I am always one of those cases that are against the standard what-to-expect pattern.  Now why is that?

There were no jokes about pain tolerance this time around.  My husband went home as well with more scratches and bruises because I had forgotten to cut my nails.  Oops.

I was completely sore for about 3 days, but started to function quite normally after that.  Unlike my last recovery, where they prescribed Ibuprofen for about a week after I gave birth, they had stopped all my medications right before I left the hospital.  Again I wanted to protest, but now in hindsight it did speed up my recovery.  And while the pain of those last 5 minutes is still fresh in my head, somehow the memory of it is also slowly fading away into something that doesn’t seem so terrible (it might also be a case of sleep deprivation).

So, thank you Midwives, for turning me into a tougher cookie in the course of three years and two babies.  And you are right, no one is pregnant forever.

For Expectant Mommies Mommy Anecdotes

The 2008 Labor & Delivery Story

In an attempt to maintain a steady stream of posts while on “maternity leave”, I have written some tidbits in advance.  Here is one of them (written March 7, 2011).

There has to be a written account of my labor & delivery with Sam somewhere in time.  So here it is.


(There is a reason I tell this part).  A phrase in my lengthy birth plan read, “I believe I have a high pain threshold.  However when asked, I would like to seek alternative pain relievers prior to consenting to an epidural.”

My Mommyology Labor Story
Truth: Looking at this picture makes me squeamish.

When my husband read this, he took it to mean that I wanted to give birth naturally.  Truth be told, I am not, and never was, that brave.  I did want some medical help, however I was also more afraid of the thought that a needle would be stuck into my spine.  More so, some of my mommy batchmates who had just given birth a month before me at the same hospital, told me that the epidural didn’t work for them (one had to be pricked 4 times and it still didn’t work!).  In short, I had epidural nightmares.

Yet no matter how much I explained myself, he continued to “challenge” me into delivering normally.  I think he never believed I had a high tolerance for pain to begin with.


My Mommyology Turkey
Garfield looks like he's going into labor too.

Friday the 28th: It was the day after our first Thanksgiving meal with friends when I started feeling contractions.  I was anxious from the beginning that I wouldn’t know what to expect, but looking back, I obviously could not sleep that night.  I called the Midwife hotline at 2AM to say that my contractions were 5 minutes apart.  They said to wait it until it  progressed further.  In the meantime, I was advised to eat and drink and build my strength.

We sat it out at home until 3PM that day, when I said I felt I should get myself checked and that the pain was getting worse.  In my head I was thinking, 12 hours since it started, and they’re getting a little bit more intense, then this is it!  I CAN handle the pain!  So off to the hospital we went, and Kathy the midwife on call admitted us. 

Side story:  There are 6 Midwives in the practice, and I met all of them during my pre-natal visits EXCEPT Kathy.  So you can imagine my anxiety increase because she was the one person I didn’t get to know, and she was potentially delivering my baby that day!

Kathy checked me and in a minute’s time dismissed me saying, “Go home, you’re not yet dilated.  Come back when you’re in REAL Labor.” She said it and did it all so fast it was like my visit was a waste of time.  I on the other hand, already in the mindset that this was the most pain I’ve ever experienced in my life, felt insulted and totally bewildered.  HU-WAT?!  Go home?!  It’s not labor YET?!

Kathy then adds, “You’ll know when you’re in real labor, trust me.  Then you can come back.” She said it could be a day to a week before I’d even give birth.  At that point, I decided she was my least favorite Midwife.

To add insult to injury, my husband felt he had validated his theory on my pain threshold tolerance and started to joke, “no epidural… tsk tsk!”  I was too busy feeling disappointed I wasn’t giving birth yet to really notice or care.  I was bewildered that I was mistaken too but at the same time, was wallowing  in my own self-doubt:  am I really THAT weak?

In any case, we went home and had some chicken dinner, but I was getting uncomfortable.  It was 4 hours since our trip to the hospital, and I thought I should try and call again.  My husband kept discouraging me saying they’ll just send us home, it’s too early to go back.  I didn’t want to be sent back home a second time around so I took a breath and sat in a hot tub to try to relieve my pain.

Eventually no position in the tub was comfortable for me anymore.  So I asked to be massaged instead.  At this point my contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart.  I said we should go back, but again he discouraged me saying I should just sleep and we’ll try again tomorrow.  It was too soon since they sent us home, he said.

Finally a little past 10PM I got up and walked around because I couldn’t stay in one position any longer, and I decided to just call Kathy.  “I can’t sit still or lie still or think straight — so can we check?” She agreed and I woke up my sleeping driver to take me back.  He was still dragging his feet when Kathy said in surprise that I was already 6cm dilated.  “That was quick”, she said.  The groggy husband suddenly woke up surprised at the progress and I think — was at a loss for words.

I did ask for the epidural at that point and so they prepped me for it.  Once prepped, I wasn’t allowed to eat, drink or move around anymore, and I was basically strapped to the bed.  It took forever to get the IV in, too — that was tormenting because I had to “hold still” through contractions and all I could hear was, “Oops.  We need to try again.”  “Other vein.”  “Other arm.”  Until finally after about 3 tries and a new nurse, it was through.

My Mommyology Tick Tock Tick Tock
The hours felt like ages.

I waited for THREE HOURS before the anesthesiologist arrived.  Remember, this was Thanksgiving weekend and the middle of the night, so the hospital staff was on skeleton crew and apparently the only anesthesiologist they had was attending to someone else.

Needless to say, by the time he got there, I was tired of “holding still” for everyone since I couldn’t get up off the bed.  When they checked me again, the nurse said in an all-too bubbly voice, “Oh!  You’re 9cm dilated!  You don’t need the epidural anymore!

I could not believe it.  I gave everyone in the room a horrific stare and said that I STILL wanted it because — well, you can’t strap me down and make me wait for three hours for nothing!  Plus, at that point, trying to “hold still” during  the worst pain I have ever felt in my life was physically exhausting.  How could I push after that?

Thankfully, once they stuck me with the needle all the pain disappeared.  It worked like a charm.

I pushed for about 2 hours before an entire battalion of nurses and doctors came through the door and I gave birth in front of what felt like an audience of 20 people.  The rest of course is history.


Kathy is now okay in my book.  I had suddenly become fond of her and her straightforward ways.  How can you not like someone who safely delivers your most prized treasure into this world?

And the husband — well… He was all too happy I didn’t tear his hair out like most of my friends said I would.  The most I did was bruise his arms from digging my fingers into them during each contraction.  Now he has no right to joke me about not having a high tolerance for pain, seeing what I went through!

The adventure continues when we find out what Labor & Delivery will be like this 2011! (coming soon!)

A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts For Expectant Mommies Mommy Discoveries

Lessons on Labor: Words of Wisdom from the Midwives

I apologize if my posts are a little more erratic these days.  Actually as I write this, I am experiencing early labor, and my membranes have been stripped (I am 3cm dilated, 70% effaced, and my contractions are about 5-6 minutes apart).  Apologies again if that is too much information, although it was something I recently learned, so I thought it might be informational for some future pregnancies.

My Mommyology Midwives
Certified Nurse-Midwives or CNM. A strong group of women in my book.

We’ve just recently come back from my very last prenatal check-up with the Midwives of UNC Women’s Hospital. As I am trying to distract myself from the intermittent pain of the contractions (which I am told can still last a few days – Lord!), I figured it was appropriate to write a little bit about these women (seeing as how they are quite prominent characters in my life at the moment).

When I first came to Chapel Hill, I had a different perception of what a Midwife, or more appropriately called a Certified Nurse-Midwife (or CNM), does.  In Manila all mothers-to-be see an O.B. GYNE, and everything is done in the hospital.  Midwives are home care providers who take care of the mother after birth, some with little medical background.  They are not medical practicioners per se.

Here, a CNM works in the hospital and is basically capable of doing everything an OBGYNE does apart from caesarean births.  If you are assessed to have low risk pregnancies, they recommend that a CNM be your care provider.  They have their own set of nurses who assist them, but they are, for all intents and purposes, doctors as well.  There are some midwives in Chapel Hill who still practice home births and births outside the hospital, however they work in close coordination with the hospitals in the event an emergency occurs.  So it feels like a more flexible set-up.  And it’s worked well for us for both babies.

The midwives I see, they are one set of strong admirable women.  When I was first new to the system, I was skeptical about having to rotate through six of them through my entire pregnancy, but I’d have to say that all changed quickly once I started to meet them one by one.  They can be intimidating sometimes, because they don’t mince words or they don’t beat around the bush to soften the blow of what you might have to go through.  They tell you straight, but with as much sympathy and empathy as possible.  They dispel all sorts of pre-conceived notions and misconceptions which generally build up your anxiety.  The number of times they say it in a day may make you feel like they’re not listening to you specifically, but really they do.  They just won’t “baby” you, if you know what I mean.  The most I’ve gotten was a sympathetic pout or “Awww, I’m sorry you’re going through that honey, but“… type of response.  And you can never say they don’t know what they’re talking about, nor will you really ever feel that when you’re with them.

I’ve been thinking about some memorable quotable quotes I’ve heard from each of them over the past three years, and I wanted to share them with you here.  In case you are pregnant for the first time, then hopefully this will help ease the anxiety you’re feeling about going into labor (which is something unavoidable for all pregnancies). If it’s not, then maybe some of these items will be validated by what you’ve experienced yourself!

If you can still eat, sleep, think… breathe — then it’s not “real labor” yet. I didn’t know what this really meant until I was actually midway through active labor.  I have a post coming out in the near future about my labor with Sam, and how I was first sent home.  I didn’t want that to happen again with this pregnancy, so while I have been feeling constant contractions for several days now, we haven’t gone rushing to the hospital in a panic.  My gauge is the fact that I can still go about my day (albeit with a little bit of difficulty as the contractions intensify) and can still sleep through a few hours through the night.

Mind you, this is a hard one to determine, especially if it’s your first time because it’s mixed with anxiety and nervousness and excitement.

Eat and drink what you wouldn’t mind seeing later on. The midwives say that labor is more than a marathon, and so you have to prepare for it and build your stamina.  Eat and drink as you normally would — but also just know that it might come back out during the actual labor (and I have witnessed this firsthand three years ago, so now I am careful with what goes into me)!

My Mommyology Labor Contraction Chart
The labor marathon: quite hilly.

“Oh Honey.  You NEED to go through labor — you have to work for your baby!” I was telling Meg, the CNM on-call today, that I was hoping after Friday’s 2cm news, she’d say I was miraculously 7cm dilated and ready to pop.  She laughed and said all mothers hope that they can escape the worst of it.  In reality though, she says, we all have to work through labor.  It’s like our birthright as mothers (ouch!)!  The “reward” in the end is greater than anything you’d expect after all.

There’s nothing like an overdue baby to get you over the anxiety of labor pains. I may have mentioned this in a previous post, when you just get to a point where you just want to get it over with. Depending on how desperate you are, they say mothers try anything and everything they prescribe.

No one is pregnant forever. I am not one of those people who enjoy pregnancy and all the symptoms that come with it.  With both girls, I’ve had a tendency to carry past term, and that can really test one’s patience.  Apparently though, this statement is a constant reminder the CNMs make to a lot of their patients who are both anxious and excited, and go through long phases of early labor.  That’s hard to do too, particularly with this pregnancy since I’m so ready to just get through it and hold my baby!

It shouldn’t be long now, though, I hope.  Please stork!  Come soon!

My Mommyology Stork
We're on our way!

For Expectant Mommies Mommy Miscellaneous

Still Pregnant

My Mommyology Waiting to Give Birth
Tick tock tick tock tick tock... when will the waiting stop?

Saturday, March 12, 2011, 9:23PM.

Yesterday, Friday March 11 at 3:45PM, I went for my 40th week check-up and my Midwife said that I was 2cm dilated already and 50% effaced.  The baby had dropped slightly as of the week before so I was also measuring below previous.  Since I actually went from 0-6cm dilation in 6 hours with Sam, I was quite hopeful that I would jump much more quickly into active labor this time around.

Well — as you can see from the time stamp on this post — I wasn’t so lucky.  My Midwife says it’s also normal and I can go, even on my 2nd pregnancy, for even another week at 2cm.  Please, dear Lord, let that not be the case.  I would really like to give birth already.

We’ve already done two of the three things she prescribed at my check-up, which is to eat spicy foods and walk walk walk (Don’t ask what the 3rd item on her list was).  My Midwife says the impatience is a classic cure for any labor anxiety too — it’s like you just want to get it over with already.  That is somewhat true.

Since my status post on Facebook earlier this week about reaching 39 weeks, 4 days pregnant, everyone has been monitoring my progress, sending me messages or asking questions in all of two words — STILL PREGNANT?

So to everyone thinking of me and wondering if I am already in labor or have already given birth — thank you for doing so, for checking in and for keeping us in your thoughts.  We really appreciate it, and I do wish all your wishful thinking will move this baby forward (in this case, out and into my arms)!  Hopefully by calling it out like this as well, it will be a classic case of “speaking too soon” and I will magically go into labor tonight.

While I am grateful that my girls are healthy and strong, I still wonder why am I one of those mothers selected to carry to term and beyond.  The only reason I can think of is that both my daughters take after their father:  Always late, most of the time, just barely making it on time.  His relatives and our closest friends reading this will know exactly what I mean!

A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts For Expectant Mommies Mommy Anecdotes

Pre-Birth Documents

My Mommyology Birth Plan
Scrap the plan!

The What-to-Expect books will tell you that at about 32 weeks, you give your care provider a birth plan.  Truth be told, I’d never heard of a birth plan until I opened that particular chapter.  In Manila I don’t think birth plans are common.  You feel pain, you go to the hospital, they page your OB GYNE, and they offer you the treatment options.

I suppose birth plans are more prominent here because there are multiple providers in one practice (for instance, the UNC Midwives — you see them as a group and not just one individual person, so any one of them treats you for your check-up, and any one of them can be on call when you go into labor).  Therefore it is helpful to have it on file.  There are other alternatives to giving birth at the hospital as well, so birth plans can come into play.

In any case, the first time around at 32 weeks (and for the sake of having one), I typed out a birth plan.  I showed it to one of the Midwives and she laughed at the sight of it because it was two pages long, single-spaced size font 9.  She helped me edit it down to 1 page, and just told me to bring it when we checked in during my labor.  I printed 5 copies and put it in my hospital bag to give out to the team on-call that day.  Needless to say, two days after I delivered, I still had all the copies in my bag.  It’s a good thing my labor was (mostly) a positive experience and it wasn’t really far from what was written on the plan!

Now 38 weeks in, I am 6 weeks late for a birth plan discussion and no one seems to be worried.  With everything normal (knock on wood!) the Midwives say there’s really no need for me to give them one.  Of course, I prepared one just in case, and it is all of three sentences, dictated to them during my last check-up:

  • Epidural ASAP.
  • Birth Doula if available.
  • Please don’t send me home in the middle of my labor. 🙂  (I’ll explain this another time)

Side note:  at the check-up, I got my wish — I saw Jamie on an impromptu ultrasound!  Yahoo!  She is head down and in position, all ready to go!

So we saved some paper this time around.

My Mommyology care document
Notes on all aspects of her day. I can probably earn from this if I tried hard enough.

What I did spend time on though, was a care document for Sam.  Okay — don’t laugh.  It’s just that I’ve never left her with anyone before, and although I don’t think I’ll be away from her for long when I go into labor, I still do want to make sure the normalcy of her day is not completely flipped.  It’s just like a work turn-over document (you know how when you go on leave from the office, you leave your pending projects with someone so that work can proceed normally?  It’s something like that).  The care document is approximately 9 pages long, single-spaced, size font 1o, with a few pictures to break the text monotony.  I tried to make it as reader friendly as possible.  Maybe I’ll buy a binder and put tabs for each section.

I know, I know…she will be fine either way.  But knowing it exists and knowing I can turn over this document to whomever will have to care for her, no matter how long or short that time frame will be makes me feel that I am doing all I can do to make sure she will be okay without me.  At least I can go into labor with peace of mind over one daughter, and focus on safely pushing out this other daughter.