Labor Preparations

Since almost the beginning of this pregnancy, I’ve been feeling a bit of fear about labor.  It seems silly to be scared now, because I felt significantly less fear and apprehension prior to my first labor experience.  But after going through a very rapid and intense labor with Holden, followed by a protracted and difficult recovery, I’m finding that I really need to deal with my fears, and soon.

I wrote about Holden’s birth back in June 2008, but I never really talked much about my recovery after his birth.  Holden’s labor and delivery was rapid—he was born after only 6 hours of labor.  I never had any signs of early labor, and when my labor finally started, the contractions were a minute apart from the get-go.  I felt like I had no time to “ease myself” into the rhythm of labor, and by the time I got to the hospital (only a couple hours after labor had started), I was at 8 cm.  My labor basically started in the transition phase, and as labor progressed, the contractions just seemed to stack themselves closer and closer together, to the point that there was essentially no break between them.  I don’t think I mentioned this in my birth story, but I distinctly remember laboring in the tub at the hospital, and having an excruciating pain in my right hip (very low down), that would persist between each contraction.  The pain in my right hip was almost worse than the actual contractions.  I recall mentioning this to my midwife, and her replying very casually, “Oh, that’s just his shoulder.”  It wasn’t until after Holden was born, that I learned that he was in an asynclitic presentation, meaning that his head was tilted to the side, like this:

Do you see the position of the baby’s shoulder?  That’s EXACTLY why I was feeling pain in my hip.  My midwife knew he was asynclitic, based on her experience and how things were going with my labor, and she did everything in her power to get him into a better presentation for delivery.  I remember pushing and pushing and pushing, with my contractions coming one on top of the other, with seemingly no progress for quite some time.  Rob said he could see part of H’s head, but it just wouldn’t budge any further (being sideways makes things difficult!)  When it came down to those final moments after an exhausting 2-hour stint of pushing, my midwife had to do an episiotomy because H’s heart rate was decelerating, and I just couldn’t seem to get enough space for him to come out, no matter how hard I tried.  It’s not common practice for our midwife group to perform episiotomies, but given the circumstances, that was the only way to get Holden’s little sideways head out of my body.  My midwife seemed almost haunted by what she had to do, and I didn’t even know I had an episiotomy until after Holden was born. I had a 3rd degree tear that required lots of stitches, and LOTS and LOTS of recovery.   The initial weeks were very difficult, but one thing I haven’t mentioned here before is that the tear took a full TWO YEARS to completely heal.  It was two years before um, relations, were tolerable again.  That’s a long time.  I am lucky that things are healed up now, and my midwife says it looks good—no scar tissue, not even any real evidence that I had such a massive tear.  My fear about my labor this time is that I will have another asynclitic baby and will have another horrific tear.  I know that having one asynclitic presentation isn’t predictive of having subsequent asynclitic presentations, but the rough recovery that I had with Holden is enough to instill fears that I didn’t have the first time around.

I believe that my midwife had no choice.  I don’t blame her for what she had to do, and of course, I feel enormous gratitude that she was able to get Holden out alive and healthy.  I’m grateful she got him out without the aid of forceps, vacuum, or c-section.  I don’t think that my birth experience was awful or traumatic, and I don’t think that my episiotomy and tear were avoidable.  But I do feel some fear about tearing again—I have fear about having another two-year recovery period and I feel fear about long-term pain.  These next few weeks are going to be about getting past this fear so I can have a labor and delivery experience that I can feel good about.

More on asynclitic presentations can be found here.

Leave Your Comment