It’s funny, but this time around I had absolutely no nervousness around labour. It’s such a short span of time that any pain is really easy to forget about. I know I had a lot of incoherent-screaming-pain with Aiden, and yet I still felt completely ok with going through that again. Compared with months of pain during the pregnancy, it seemed like an “easy” end.
My Labour Story with Damien
As many of you know, I was scheduled to be induced on my due date (May 14) because of the pain the pregnancy was causing me (pelvis, back, neck, etc) – I couldn’t take care of Aiden, let alone myself. Our induction was pushed to May 15th initially, which was ok, but it all went messy from there.
Originally, I was told we would go straight to the pitocin to induce my labour, but the midwife on call thought my cervix could use some extra work and gave me cervidil instead. I was sent home, which was very confusing for me. Initially, we tried not to let Aiden know we were home, since he thought we were having the baby. However, we had to drop that plan eventually when the induction didn’t trigger my labour. I had about 30 hours of early labour contractions, but nothing after that.
With cervidil, the best plan is to return for a second dose the next day, often triggering labour with the back-to-back action. However, the hospital maternity ward was full and I was bumped off the schedule (as an “optional” induction, higher risk patients took priority). For the next 3 days, this continued to happen – at one point the entire hospital was on overflow and diverting patients. Meanwhile, I kept having on-and-off early labour and felt on edge all the time. I tried everything to trigger labour on my own, all to no avail (though it was nice to walk in our week of Spring sun!). It was the hardest week of waiting ever!
Finally, on Saturday night, I was invited back for a second cervidil. Early labour began instantly again and I was sent home. At 2am, my water broke; by 2:20am, I wanted to go to the hospital. Apparently, my labour is back-to-back contractions (the cervidil had been out for a couple of hours already) and that’s just not fun. Thankfully, they weren’t as intense as they were with Aiden, but I still wanted drugs.
When we got to the hospital, we had to wait for the midwife to arrive. My labour progressed very quickly and I was very ready for drugs by the time she got there. My waters gushed again and I was already 5cm dilated – soon after, I was started on the gas, which helped tremendously with the pain. The midwife was also amazing, really talking me through the pain (wow, midwives shine during labour!).
If my pelvis hadn’t been misaligned, I would have considered labour with just the gas. As it was, I was too worried about tearing and could barely lie down from the pain associated with my pelvis and back, so I got the epidural. I love the epidural, but I had an adverse reaction this time. I got sick, my blood pressure dropped and baby’s heart rate was fluctuating. They were concerned from time to time, making me change positions often, but thankfully when the midwife went to check me again an hour after her initial exam, she was pleased (and surprised) to see that I was ready to push. I could feel baby descending and rotating with each contraction (pretty neat).
After 20 minutes of pushing, Damien Grayson was born! The whole process, from when my water broke / active labour began to the birth, was 6 hours – not bad!
The only hiccup so far in our parenting journey has been the unfortunate resurgence of my milk supply issues. I was hoping, as is often the case, that it wouldn’t be a problem with Damien, as second babies often see more milk. On some days, I’m able to supplement with just 3oz of formula (total), though his demand increased and yesterday (and likely today) will be more like 9oz – that was a bit of a shock last night. However, looking back at what I had with Aiden, it’s about the same quantity (maybe a little bit more).
With Aiden, I dropped most bottles by 8 weeks and all bottles by 4 months. I’m hoping the journey is shorter this time, particularly as it’s more inconvenient to both breastfeed and bottle feed when taking care of a toddler. Not to mention trying to stick in cluster feeding and/or pumping. But, more than anything else, I find bottle feeding to be an emotionally discouraging process and look forward to one day stopping it altogether.
I actually credit my milk supply increasing to Aiden being colicky – although it was super stressful, it meant he essentially cluster fed all the time. Since Damien is a more placid baby, that hasn’t been the case. While I have the help at home, I’ve been delaying bottles and extending feeding to include at least one long cluster feeding session during the day. This won’t be possible when I am on my own.
Our nights are hit and miss, so I may end up breastfeeding more during some nights. When Damien sleeps, he sleeps really well; however, if he misses his bedtime window, his whole night goes off and he ends up waking up very frequently, which means more breastfeeding and more formula. I’m trying to be careful on the timing of his last nap to ensure his bedtime is easier, but you never can account for things like explosive diapers. Those just happen. Ah, newborns.
I hate each and every bottle I have to give Damien, though I know in the end I’m doing what’s right. Sometimes self doubt crops up, particularly as people (online and off) can be so incredibly polarized on the breastfeeding issue, particularly stigmatizing those of us who need to supplement or criticizing how we choose to supplement. There are many opinions about what will affect your breast milk production and it’s all a very confusing situation – even with the help of the lactation consultant. I doubt myself often.
So, wish me luck! I will need all the support I can get to soldier through the next few weeks.