Surprises About Labor and Delivery

Sure, I went to the childbirth classes. And I watched the videos. I’ve seen lots of labor and delivery on silly TV shows. And I’ve seen plenty of animal babies born, naturally and by C-section. Heck, I’ve even helped with lots (and lots) of animal births. But I was still surprised about plenty of things during my labor and delivery with Baby Doc!

Baby Doc 11 weeks old

I’m a “suffer in silence” type. I never would have thought that. I stub my toe, and spit out a variety of expletives. I like to string curse words together in creative combinations (just ask my college and vet school roommates, or Farmer Doc). I’m usually a pretty vocal person, and I don’t have much volume control. So I was very surprised when all I wanted to do was shut up and breathe through the contractions. I didn’t want Farmer Doc to talk to me, touch me, or even really look at me. I just wanted to deal with it – quietly – until it was over. And then it was time for the next one…

Epidurals rock. Okay, that one wasn’t a surprise. But after waking up at 3:00am with my first contraction, I was definitely ready for the epidural that I finally got at 1:00pm. And then I took a nap. Ahh…

Baby Doc 16 weeks old

Pushing can take HOURS. Why does no one tell you this? The classes, the videos, the silly TV shows… they all make it seem like you get good and dilated, you give a few good pushes, and out pops a baby! That’s pretty much how it happens in the animal world, so that is what I was expecting. Not so much. The only time I cursed – through the entire 18 hours of labor – was when the doctor said, “You’re going to push with Amy (the nurse) for a while. She’ll call me when you’re ready to deliver.” Um, excuse me? I’m pushing… I thought that meant I was ready to deliver? Apparently not. I pushed for an hour. And still needed to have a C-section. All that effort, wasted. At least I had the epidural on board!

The labor and delivery nurses do care about you. I’m not sure why this one surprised me. Veterinarians and technicians care about their patients, even after their shift is over or the patient has left the hospital. My first L&D nurse happened to be married to my anesthesiologist. The nurse’s shift was over at 7:00pm, and Baby Doc was nowhere near ready to make an appearance. She had the weekend off, so wouldn’t be back to see me or Baby Doc before we left the hospital. When we finally went to surgery, around 8:30pm, the anesthesiologist told me his wife had been asking about me, and wanted to know if I minded if he told her about my surgery and the baby. (Patient privacy means that he can’t go home and tell her without my permission, even though she had been with me all day long.) She was great, and I didn’t mind. He may have even texted her a picture of the little guy, but I’m pretty fuzzy on exactly what happened then…

Baby Doc first solid food

The shakes. Oh my goodness, the shakes. One of Farmer Doc’s aunts had warned me about this, so I wasn’t taken totally by surprise. My teeth were chattering on and off all day long, especially after I had the epidural. I just thought I was cold, so I asked Farmer Doc to pile on another blanket. Then my teeth would stop chattering, and I would start sweating, so I would ask him to take the blanket back off. But during the C-section – holy cow! Shortly after Baby Doc was delivered, I started uncontrollably shaking – my teeth chattered, my arms and hands shook, my chest vibrated, and I’m sure my legs would have if they weren’t paralyzed from the epidural (or maybe they were shaking, and I just couldn’t feel it). Apparently, this is totally normal. It’s from the anesthesia and the big hormone swings that happen with delivery. Normal or not, I was afraid that I was going to drop Baby Doc when they finally put him in my arms! I got a big dose of a pain killer/sedative (Demerol? I don’t remember) and the shakes stopped, never to return again.

The swelling sticks around. I had a lot of swelling in my legs and feet in the last trimester of my pregnancy. I don’t know why, but I expected it to go away within a few days after Baby Doc was born. Not so. All the bed rest at the hospital plus not being able to move around very well after the C-section contributed to my leg swelling sticking around for a few weeks. Wow, I was surprised! I did get to wear these great leg massagers my first night in the hospital. These magic contraptions look like knee-high boots (although not very fashionable ones) and periodically squeeze and release on your feet and calves to keep the blood flowing so you don’t get blood clots. Whatever the purpose, I loved them – it was an all-night leg massage! Too bad I didn’t get them back after that… those would even feel good now!

Baby Doc second day solid food

But I think the biggest surprise of all is how much I instantly fell in love with little Baby Doc. After a lifetime of saying I was “never going to have kids,” this entire pregnancy experience has been a bit surreal. Honestly, so is raising Baby Doc. But now I can’t imagine life without him!

What do you wish you knew about labor and delivery that no one told you? Share in the comments!

  • Katie Sawyer

    Love the post! I think, despite knowing a baby was developing inside me during the 8 months and 1 week of my pregnancy, I was still shocked that a baby boy, complete with 10 fingers and 10 toes, a button nose and two cute ears, appeared after my c-section.

    In addition to that, my water broke 3 weeks before my due date and it took me a few hours to figure out what was going on. I always assumed the contractions started first, but not in my case.

    Enjoy Baby Doc, little boys a great!

  • Dani Vello

    I think what surprised me the most was the pain I felt during contractions. I had been told my my mother that it was no worse than back pain…so I figured hey, I’m a tough cookie, I can handle this. There is no way that my mother and I experienced the same pain! So I’m convinced that every woman and every pregnancy is different. Best advice I have? Listen to your doctors, they want what is best for you. :) (My birth plan last time…and this time…do what I’m told.;)).

  • Lana Wallpe

    :-) It’s all good and worth it when you see that tiny little soul looking back at you. Every day is a new adventure! Hang on!