Having a baby reminds me in some ways of getting married. You have this due date ingrained in your mind. Family, friends, co-workers and your OB all have that date circled in their calendars. Everyone is anticipating this big event that you’ve been preparing for months.
Unlike a wedding, however, which usually happens right on schedule except in romantic comedies, babies don’t typically arrive on a conveniently timed schedule!
To be quite honest, I was a little bit less enthusiastic about giving birth than I was about my wedding day.
At my 39-week appointment, my OB didn’t see any signs that labor would be starting soon, so we scheduled an induction for about 10 days later “just in case.” She joked with us as we made the appointment, saying that the baby would for sure come early now. And well ... she wasn’t far off!
Going into labor day.
The next day was normal. My husband and I woke up and went to work just as we had planned to do every day for the next week or so. Until about 4:30 p.m., when I had my first REAL contraction — not Braxton Hicks — and I could tell something was happening. But, I also knew that some women have contractions for days before going into true labor.
About 20 minutes later, I had another one. I texted my husband to give him the update — this was the first time I had had any consistent contractions. But, as all pregnant women know, your OB will tell you about the “5-1-1” rule as a sign of true labor — contractions five minutes apart, lasting for one minute and consistently happening for one hour. After that, the contractions seemed to be happening like clockwork. I was using an app on my phone to keep track of the length and time between contractions and by the time I got home from work they were nearly five minutes apart and lasting about one minute.
I told my husband I was going to finish packing my hospital bag, just in case. After about 20 minutes of additional consistent contractions, we called our OB’s after-hours line and spoke to the on-call physician, who told us to head to the hospital!
That hospital tour (and other preparations) really paid off.
At about 6 p.m., we gathered our belongings, loaded the car and headed off into the Dallas rush hour traffic toward Medical City Dallas. I’m sure most women will tell you that riding in a car while experiencing contractions was the hardest car ride of their life and yep, that’s all true! We called our parents to let them know we were on our way to the hospital and to stand by to hear if I was admitted and truly in labor.
This was really when the prep work we had done — the hospital tour, the pre-admission paperwork appointment — really made all the difference. We knew exactly where to go, where to park and I only had to sign one form at the desk before being taken back to a labor and delivery room.
Epidural pain relief? Yes, please.
At about 6:30 it was determined that yes, I was in labor, and I was officially admitted to the hospital. As part of my birthing plan, I was given the choice of an epidural. The contractions were coming fast and furious and the pain was becoming unbearable. Not long after, the anesthesiologist made an appearance and the part I had looked forward to the least actually became such sweet relief during that whirlwind of an evening.
I was prepared for hours of labor. I came equipped with my Kindle to read a book or watch a movie and a playlist of songs to listen to. What I was not prepared for was how quickly my labor went! My nurses and doctor couldn’t believe it either — especially since it was my first child. Now, I’m fully aware that many women labor for 24 or more hours and I assure you I’m not trying to gloat here — I was just as surprised as anyone else!
Our sweet daughter, Avery, was born at 1:55 the next morning — 6 days before her due date! What was just an ordinary day for us is now an extraordinary day and will never be the same again.
The labor and delivery process that often left my head spinning was made easier by wonderful, caring doctors, nurses and other staff. They knew exactly what to say and do to put my mind at ease and make me feel comfortable.
Quality time with baby Avery … supportive hospital staff … and a celebratory gourmet meal.
Shortly after Avery was born, we were moved into a private postpartum hospital room where we would stay for two more nights. My husband slept in the room on a futon-style bed with bedding provided by the hospital. Avery and I each had our own nurse to keep an eye on us around the clock. I was relieved that we had the option to send Avery to the nursery so we could get some sleep — at that time we had been up for nearly 24 hours and needed some rest to prepare for life with our new baby girl.
The nurses, doctors and other staff made sure I had the care and resources I needed while I was in the hospital so I could properly care for my daughter and myself after we went home. My pain and comfort level were of the utmost priority as I recovered. Thankfully, there were no complications for myself or Avery (but I was reassured to know there was a Level IV NICU, the highest level of care available, if we had needed it).
I was able to work with the on-site lactation consultants each day to practice breastfeeding and I chose to follow up with them in the lactation clinic after I left the hospital. We also had visits from the pediatrician, a newborn hearing test, filled out paperwork for her birth certificate and completed other “must dos” while in the hospital.
While it is a busy time being in the hospital and adjusting to being a family of three, we also had quite a bit of quality time that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Medical City Dallas provides a “celebration” meal for new parents and they even wheeled in a small table and chairs, making it feel like we were at a restaurant rather than in a hospital. We feasted on steak and pasta with shrimp, salads and a yummy chocolate dessert. It was a wonderful way to end our hospital stay and celebrate this new chapter in our lives.
It may not have been as glamorous as a wedding day, but my birth experience was just as memorable. And, like I’m sure many moms will say, much different than I anticipated! I know the wonderful care I received at Medical City Dallas played a huge part in the delivery of my precious daughter and in my own recovery. I would choose this team and hospital again if I had to do it all over!
Medical City Dallas opens its new Women’s Hospital in April 2018. Come and be one of the first to tour and deliver in this amazing new space.
Susan is a communicator and frequent Google-er. She resides in Plano with her husband, their daughter, Avery, and fur-baby, Lucy. Follow her as she navigates the uncharted waters of pregnancy, motherhood and all that comes with it.