17 Surprising Difficulties During Labor & Delivery (#253)

Around here, we do things The Hard Way.

  1. Let’s start with your baby not wanting to make an appearance. Like mine. He was late and big. Once the doctor made it clear that there was no benefit to Baby D remaining in utero any longer, we opted to induced labor.
  2. Turns out, if you’re having contractions already, the doctor isn’t allowed to speed things up with a little Pitocin. “How could you not notice you were having contractions?” one nurse asked me. “I dunno,” I answered with a shrug. “Maybe because I’m itching so badly that I want to rip off my own arms?”

  • Unpleasant Exams. You’ve probably heard terms like “effacement” and “dilation” being thrown around in delivery rooms. These basically mean that your cervix, which holds the baby up and in the uterus, is getting thinner and wider. When your OB examines you and discovers that your cervix is 10 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced, you’re ready to give birth. But you know what all those helpful little links above don’t tell you? Exactly HOW the OB examines you. She shoves a couple fingers up your vaginal canal and checks your cervix by feel. THIS IS NOT PLEASANT. This exam is actually on par with your annual pap smear—no curling iron-like speculum, but way more digging around. (Hey, you men bemoaning the horrors of your first prostate exam at age 50? Woman the fuck up.)  
  • You might hurt someone. It might not be your husband, either. If you think those checks on dilation and effacement are bad, try coping with the doctor breaking your water. (Breaking the amniotic sac is another way to help move labor along after you’ve been in the hospital for a day.) Your OB will now be up your vaginal canal with two hands, one holding a sterile wooden swabby thing to poke a hole. If you’re a control freak with “no touchy!” issues and freakishly strong leg muscles, your semi-involuntary thrashing may send your OB to the hospital floor. (On the upside, it may also motivate your nurse to get the anesthesiologist in ASAP for an epidural, though, since she doesn’t want to risk catheterizing you until your lower half is numb.)
  • Your amniotic water isn’t clear and pretty. In fact, it could be filled with greenish black baby poop. All babies swallow and pee in the womb, but big, late babies are more likely to start pooping before delivery. Problem is, too much prenatal poop (known as meconium) in the amniotic fluid can block airways. It’s another worry when your baby is a late arrival. 
  • You’re not the only one having a baby. In fact, your hospital might be having a “baby blizzard” the day your son finally shows up. This means that your OB and your nurse are running from room to room. With 58 babies born on the same day as your son, they may not notice when you’re a) fully effaced and dilated, or b) start running a fever.
  • You’re feverish and puking when the nurse and OB insist it’s time to push. 
  • Your baby might decide to present himself on his back (face up, also known as posterior) with a lifted chin. This means that each time you push, the baby tilts his head back, instead of forward, blocking his own exit. And if your baby has a big head? He can get stuck.
  • If your fever hits 102 and your baby’s heartrate goes up, you’re gonna need an emergency Cesarean section. Doesn’t matter if you’ve been pushing for hours and your friend KL can see a hint of baby’s head. Baby needs out, fast.
  • No matter how quick your emergency C-section needs to be, someone will find time to shave your pubic hair. 
  • You’ll have a second OB in for your C-section. One will say, “In a minute, you may feel a little pressure.” Translation: one doctor will throw their entire weight across the top of your midsection while the other hauls the baby out of your uterus. 
  • Your husband may hallucinate. Sure, you’re the one with the fever and the puking and the abdomen open to the elements, but he’s had a long day stroking your hair and lying about how great you are doing. Ignore him when he tells you he keeps counting eleven fingers and toes on your newly delivered baby.
  • You might not get the much vaunted “skin on skin” contact after a tricky delivery. Baby D was all cleaned up and swaddled up when the nurse handed him to me. I was okay with that, since he wasn’t in distress. (Instead, he looked up at us with big grey eyes and a puzzled expression that clearly said, “You guys are it? Seriously?”)
  • As much as you want to hold your newborn, you might not be able to do it for very long. You might be feverish, exhausted, and shaking so much you can barely hang on to him. 
  • It’s really, really hard to watch your husband leave the room, carrying your baby off to the nursery. But you know your baby has to be weighed, measured, and examined thoroughly, especially after a traumatic delivery. (Also, someone in better shape than your husband needs to check on those fingers and toes.)
  • Being stitched and stapled back together takes a lot longer than being scalpled apart. At least an hour. You will have plenty of time to wonder if your husband passed out or dropped the baby. But then you’ll remind yourself that you carried Baby D for ten months. It’s someone else’s turn. Ultimately, you’ll realize that it this is just the first of many times you’ll have to hand your baby over to someone else. And yet…

17. Even after a miserable pregnancy and a grueling delivery, the most difficult part of motherhood will always be letting go.


Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

32 thoughts on “17 Surprising Difficulties During Labor & Delivery (#253)”

  1. I feel so awful for you, Autumn! Delivery is never easy, but yours was a nightmare! But your wisdom in your final sentence…so so true! Wise woman, you.

    1. Thank you, Lin! Yeah, it was no fun, but since Baby D was healthy in the end, it’s all okay now. I mean, never doing THAT again, but a lot of women go through all that and sometimes baby doesn’t make it. Or, as happens more commonly everywhere in the U.S. (except California), mommy doesn’t make it.

  2. Hmmm…Most of my friend had either an hard pregnancy or an hard birth but not both. You knocked it out of the park with worst experience except for the baby at the end. When I worked, one morning I came in to a woman crying in my office (not really all that unusual as I was HR). It was her first day back after her first child. She had taken the 3 months off. She had been in the office for 20 minutes when the waterworks broke. We negotiated a period of part time work for her to get used to the idea of leaving him with someone else. That worked but I’ll never forget her distress at handing him off to someone else.

    1. You know, as miserable as that whole pregnancy/ delivery thing was, and as tough as it was to be raising Baby D with no nanny or grandparents to help that first year, I would still take all that over having to leave him all day with someone else. Before I even had Baby D, I had to drop one niece off at daycare when I was helping out her parents. I cried. Not even my kid, and I cried. I feel for that new mom in your office and I’m glad you were so helpful to her.

  3. Forget ten months — I feel like this pregnancy lasted ten years! I’m so glad Baby D is finally out in the world. Sorry it sucked so badly.

  4. Feel guilty in saying that mine was, well, easy and predictable in both pregnancy and delivery, aside from the horror nurse in trying to give me an epidural five times. Then the doctors trying to regulate pitocin and something else to get mine son out. Had a vaginal birth. His father was by my side and so was my mom. Post birth though, not relating to Zachary, 2016 was a year of hell for me…

    1. Five times for the epidural?!? Good God, that is awful.

      I am not sure whether I was more exhausted the year before the kid was born or the year after. It was hard to sleep both years!

  5. Hmm not sure I should have read this today… Lol, I’m being induced later this week with our first and nervous enough about our giant headed baby. Can I ask, did Baby D look more like you or your husband at birth? My husband and I have an ongoing joke/bet about which culture’s genes will prove stronger.

    1. You know, Baby D is really a mix of the two of us. Asian women who see me out with him usually ask if his dad is Asian. Most other people think he looks pretty white. And my OB, the woman who delivered and circumcised him, actually thought he was a girl when I brought him to my six week appointment after giving birth: “But he looks so pretty!”

      You just never know what that genetic roulette wheel is going to spit out.

  6. And you post this on Mother’s Day, hahaha. Very appropriate! But still, you made it!!!

    How big was Baby D. when he was born?

  7. Wow, thanks for sharing your experience! My wife’s uncomplicated 18 hour labor now pales in comparison. Although I do have to ask, did your husband just finish a 10 hour (4am – 2:30pm) shift at the hospital(medical technologist), then find out his wife was heading to said hospital to have a baby? Did he stay up the entire time, falling asleep standing two times(sort of hazy memory)? I still didn’t count 11 fingers or toes though or any other hallucination after 30 hours awake, so he needs to toughen up some more. I want to hear his viewpoint on his so called ‘suffering’.

    1. LOL, yeah, you had it way worse. He stayed with me most of the first night (and snored, so there was definitely sleeping), then went home to see to the dogs, was gone while I kicked the doctor off the table sometime around 9 or 10 AM, missed epidural, too, and returned for the last 5-6 hours of labor and C-section. He has no excuse for his hallucinations, truly. 🙂

  8. I’m worn out just reading this. You do have a way of telling a story! All the details of giving birth are kinda surprising, aren’t they? What caused your 102 degree fever?

    The hardest thing for me was having 3 babies within 4 years and then moving abroad when the youngest was 3 wks. old. But my labor wasn’t too bad–a little slow, but otherwise pretty normal.

    I hope all is going well for you now. I’m glad Baby D is worth it all.

  9. Wow this is so real. What a complicated and painful delivery autumn, you poor thing! I’m glad everything worked out and both you and baby D made it ok. How long did this whole process take?

    That last line tugs at my heart strings. The connection between mother and child is so strong… no matter what the age it will always be hard to let go!

    Great post for Mother’s day. So fitting. Love the line “woman the fuck up” haha… well said!

    1. Let’s see. I checked in during the day on Wednesday and went into the OR sometime late on Thursday? And I left the hospital on Monday, I think.

      One of the cards my elderly neighbor gave me at my shower said, “Being a mother is having your heart walk around outside your body for the rest of your life.”

    1. A scheduled C-section is way less grueling. The moms I know who had one loved it– they went in with great hair and makeup and took awesome pictures. Recovery still takes time, but at least you can skip the fever and the shaking.

      Baby D is now old enough to have a smart mouth. He turned out ridiculously healthy and strong, with an excellent immune system. Though that might be from licking playground equipment and having 4 animals in the house.

      1. Hahahaha, great hair and make-up. I’ll be skipping that part, but I do hope to get some photos and videos.

        Isn’t it amazing though when your baby can talk to and with you. No matter how smart that mouth is. Licking playground equipment is the best way to grow immunity :DDD.

        1. Right? There are moms who are all, “Eeeeee! He’s licking the pole! Stop him!” Then there’s me: “He’s working having good gut bacteria and a solid immune system. Get over yourself, woman.”

        2. Wow, I’m glad you are both ok. I hope at least you got to choose the name. Does he seem like a good dancer? Has Andy branched into puréed food?

  10. A firm believer in the ‘hygiene’ or ‘old friends’ or ‘microbiological diversity’ hypothesis I see… I concur! Pets are great too, although the pain of losing one will be quite difficult to deal with. I suppose not having to deal with allergies is worth the loss, and all those years of ‘joy/cleaning up after pets’ helps mitigate the suffering. Teaching kids about death is also a benefit about pets as well.

  11. Wow, so glad that you are both ok. And old enough to have a smart mouth. I can’t wait for the stories with the in-laws. Their first-born’s first son. Did they try to make you stay in the house for weeks? Or maybe you chose to honor that custom and catch your breath.
    So you’ve been making time to write all this with a baby-toddler-smart-mouth little one around!!! Congrats! Hugs!

    1. Thank you! Yes, in the end we both survived and I had a super healthy kid. And the in-laws stayed 3,000 miles away. I could never have managed bedrest with them any closer.

      Less than a week after delivery, I was walking Baby D around the block. I was hanging onto his stroller for dear life and all because of all the staples in my abdomen, but I was out of the house. 🙂

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