LABOR DURING LOCKDOWN

What do you get when a pandemic sweeps the Nation & everyone is forced to lockdown in their homes for an entire year (& counting)…? A baby boom. Or a lot of divorces I’m very curious to see the numbers.

Hopefully there were more babies than breakups but regardless yes, we made a Covid baby & no I am not one to be offended by that statement. We’ve always hoped for 2 or 3 babies & when our almost 2 year old was stuck inside with no playmates & no end in sight for this pandemic, we figured we might as well just make her a playmate.

Pregnancy is already a scary experience to go through & when you add a pandemic on top of that I can totally understand why people would avoid bringing a human into the world during this time. We always try our best to focus our energy on the positive in life so pregnancy ended up being a good distraction for us away from the rest of the craziness happening in the world.

What changed during the pandemic

I wasn’t sure what changes to expect with pregnancy during a pandemic in regards to the entire prenatal experience, appointments, etc. Was I allowed to bring my spouse to checkups, would I have to wear a mask during labor? So many questions ran through my mind but we just took it day by day & tried not to let the uncertainty stress us out.

Here in in Ontario, Canada the biggest changes that took place were:

  • Scheduling of appointments. My prenatal appointments were every 5 weeks instead of 4 (until week 35 where I went every week)
  • The wait time at the office. My OB’s office scheduled appointments accordingly to avoid a full waiting room (the max number of people ever was 5 but normally I was one of two people there)
  • I didn’t have to pee on a stick at every appointment. During my first pregnancy whenever I checked in at my OB’s office I peed on stick for reasons I can’t remember & show its colour to the receptionist but I appreciated not having to do it this time around. I never did ask why but I imagine it was to limit the spread of as many bodily fluids as possible (ha!).
  • I went off work earlier this time. With my first pregnancy I worked right until the end as my water actually broke at work at week 37. Since I work in the public we decided it was best to go off work early this time with the pandemic & week 33 seemed like a good time to call it.
  • No guests allowed at hospital. This one was a tough one especially for my family. They’re the type of family waiting at the hospital as soon as your water breaks for hours on end because they just can’t contain their excitement at home (they literally waited 5 hours the first time we delivered – love them for it though!) At our hospital I was allowed 2 visitors maximum but the first guest would have to leave before the second one was allowed in. We knew that wasn’t going to work so we ended up doing a live viewing party from our hospital bed for everyone to meet our little guy. It proved to be a hilarious, hot mess since technology & parents don’t always mix.
  • No entering through Emerge. This one I wish we knew ahead of time – you know before trying to walk with contractions. Normally at our hospital you enter through the Emergency entrance which provides a shortcut to the Birthing Unit. This time when we entered there & I was having very real contractions after every third step, we were told we had to exit, turn right & head down the hall to the doors on the right where we THEN had to go through a COVID screening, walk past the gift shop, through the food court, down a hallway of construction, take the elevator to the 3rd floor & then use the intercom to have them let you in. All I gotta say is thank goodness for wheelchairs & the fact that it was 5 in the morning and not super busy. OH & also, when labor is happening fast you do not, I repeat, do not need to bring in all your bags – sorry husband.
  • Wearing a mask. I am so happy to report that I did not have to push with a mask on. I wore one the entire time until they moved me from triage into the delivery room and the first question I asked when I got there was if I could take my mask off. Everyone else in the room including my husband wore theirs and that never changed during our 24 hours there. My husband always wore his when a nurse entered the room & they never asked me to wear one again although I did at the end when I started feeling human again.
  • No outside food. We are so lucky that our hospital had a decent food court & a Tim Hortons because the hospital food ain’t great & my husband wouldn’t have eaten otherwise. We heard that some hospitals provided a meal to the patient’s guest since no outside food was allowed but for us that wasn’t the case. My husband was able to go down & bring us up meals from the food court or he could have left the hospital altogether to get himself a meal as well. Next time I would definitely pack some individually packaged snacks like granola bars & have those throughout the day.
  • No postpartum or “departure” classes. With our first pregnancy we attended a little baby class before leaving the hospital that included things like car seat safety, how long your baby should cry/eat & other things to look out for when taking care of a newborn. It’s not something we necessarily needed this time around but I definitely felt for the first time Mama’s cause that class definitely helped ease a bit of the stress that comes with taking your first baby home.

Advice for delivering during a pandemic

The best advice I could give for anyone delivering during this time is to let go as much as possible. Let go of the expectations, the traditions, the ideal birthing plans. I’m not saying don’t make them but just be prepared mentally if those plans change. Now I’m saying this as a second time Mom which I believe to be easier. I really feel for the first time Moms who won’t have their parents at the hospital or any visitors bring those special balloons & flowers once baby arrives. It was tough not seeing our family in person but it did allow us time & space to soak in our newborn which is time you don’t always get when everyone is excited to meet your little one. You have to try & find the silver lining because in the end the only thing that truly matters – as cliche as it sounds – is everyone’s health & safety.

Birth Story

February 16
1 1 : 4 5 A M

During week 38 I experienced my first stretch & sweep. My OB said they could do them as early as 38 weeks to get things going & to avoid me going the full 40 weeks as my body had only ever made it to 37 before. The next 2 days I had all the right symptoms: bloody show, cramping, lower back pain. But my body said nope & there I was back at the OB office for my 2nd stretch & sweep at week 39. This one was way more painful & I walked out of there almost 5cm dilated. I had a feeling this one worked. 

February 17
2 : 3 0 A M

I woke up on the couch (the only comfortable place to sleep when you’re 9 months pregnant & share a queen sized bed with a husband who snores & a toddler who sleeps horizontally) with contractions. I never really experienced contractions with my first pregnancy as my water broke at 3pm & then I didn’t have any sort of pain until around 1am where I immediately got an epidural. So this time I prepared myself via Google a couple days prior & looked up when to head to the hospital, etc if I were to get contractions this time around. Dr. Google said to wait until they were 1 minute long & roughly 5 mins apart. Well they never got to a full one minute thankfully for me – 95% of them were 30 seconds long. They started off at 5 mins apart & they stayed that way right until the end. 

3 : 3 0 A M

At this time I called the hospital, asked when I should head over, told them I was 5cm dilated yesterday & they said just to head over when I felt like I needed pain meds. I thought with me telling them I was already 5cm dilated yesterday that they might say to come sooner but instead I waited until I needed those meds. Turns out I waited a bit too long…more to come on that.

4 : 0 0 A M

I tried to hold off as long as possible to wake anyone in case this was a false alarm but thankfully it was the real deal. I had been trying to keep our house clean every night as I knew our family would be coming other to watch our daughter whenever the moment came. So after putting away the dishes I woke my husband & called my Mom to head over. We always said it would be so much easier to go into labour while she was asleep & we got our wish. Only she did wake up when we initiailly left the bed & I had to console her during a contraction which was so not ideal as she looked at me wondering why I wasn’t laying down with her. Contractions are 100% worse when you’re sitting or laying down in my opinion. 

4 : 4 5 A M

My Mom arrived during a contraction & she noticed during our 15 mins together that they were starting to happen less than 5 mins apart. So we packed up & off we went. I thankfully only had 2 contractions in the car during our 15 min drive but when we got out of the car & I started walking towards the hospital, they started coming after every 5th step it felt like.

5 : 0 0 A M

We arrived at Emerge, the entrance we went to the first time I delivered only to be told we had to go through a different entrance for a COVID screening. As I mentioned earlier thank goodness it was not busy & there was no line for us. Before we were able to get to the screening my husband ran & got me a wheelchair first as I was leaning up against the side of hospital outside having a contraction. He did this while still carrying our duffel bag & two backpacks – again, a reminder to just leave your bags in the car LOL.

5 : 1 0 A M

We finally got ourselves to the Birthing Suite where we had to register upon arrival. The sweetest lady was on one side of the glass at the reception desk & us on the other. When we think back to this moment we joke about it being a soundproof glass because as she was typing in our information my water broke in the wheelchair & in a panic I yelled “ahh my water just broke!“ then my husband consoled me. However the sweet lady did not hear me at all & the next thing she said was “ohh my computer just crashed, I’m gonna have to type that in again.” I tried to be patient but then she asked me to sign my name & fill out the insurance portion of the paperwork where I scribbled whatever I could & told my husband I can’t do anymore. He then relayed that message & the nurses noticed the water under my chair & asked when my water broke. It’s comical to think back about this moment now but I’m sure you can imagine the panic & pain I was in then.

5 : 1 5 A M

They wheeled me into the triage room where they asked me to get onto the bed & put my hospital gown on – all things that would have been much easier without the intense contractions. I remember the nurse asking me to put my legs down to lay flat & me crying in pain telling her I physically could not. This was the point where I began panicking a bit, asking my husband in the same breath to go get me an epidural but also not to leave my side (I was clenching his hand hard at this point). Before the nurse even checked me there he was telling them I needed the epidural. These poor nurses were an hour away from finishing their shift & here we were coming in guns blazing asking for the world before they could even see how far along I was. She told us “I just have to check her first before we can give her anything.” Next thing I heard was “she’s 9cm” & off I went to the delivery room.

5 : 3 0 A M

I arrived to the delivery room a few minutes later where I was a full 10cm dilated. Out of nowhere came the bright lights, a room full of nurses, a doctor – it was go time. I remember freaking out in that moment asking “so I’m not gonna get an epidural?!” They pulled out the laughing gas, told me to inhale between contractions to take the edge off & a few minutes later they reminded me “no only between contractions you breathe it in”…I was just trying to get all the drugs I could get at that point. During every contraction I remember grabbing & squeezing anything I could – the bed rails I was in, the nurses arm to my right. I was flailing all over the place they could barely get the IV in my arm. 

5 : 4 5 A M

When I was at my OB appointment earlier that week she told me our little guy was facing up but that he would probably turn around before labor. She didn’t sound worried so I didn’t think much of it. I’m glad she didn’t say too much because I obviously would have ran back to Dr. Google to freak myself out. Turns out the OP (Occiput Posterior) position is pretty rare & only happens in 5 to 8 percent of births. In this position the larger part of your baby’s head comes out first which makes it more likely for you to push longer, have an assisted vaginal delivery or c-section, have perineal tears or an episiotomy, & there’s also a higher chance your baby may need to be admitted to the NICU. That was the moment we knew something was up, when our doctor said to bring in the NICU team. He had asked me how long I pushed in my first labor (2 hrs) & he gave me a look of “that ain’t happening this time” before telling me he had to make some incisions. Turns out our little guy’s heart rate had dropped from around 120 to 60 as he was wedged against my pubic bone. In that moment we told our doctor to do whatever he needed to do for a safe delivery.

5 : 5 0 A M

The next 12 minutes were the most intense 12 minutes of my life. They say you’ll get an urge to push when your body is ready & I never really knew what that meant until it happened. My body literally did the first push for me, I had no control over it. The best way to describe it is when you vomit & you have no control of your body or what’s coming up. Labor with no epidural was that exact feeling except coming out other end & you know, with a human. I could feel everything I needed to feel which I later realized had I gotten that epidural, I might not have been able to push him out as quickly or as effectively. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise & further justifying the statement that everything happens for a reason. With every push I could feel our son making his way out, it just needed to happen even faster with his heart rate dropping. The doctor brought out the vacuum (most painful part of the entire delivery), he made some snips which I didn`t feel at all thanks the immense pressure down there, & my husband + I had a moment where we looked at each other knowing this had to be the final push. We also had an amazing nurse there named Nicole who was basically my personal drill sergeant which I so needed in that moment. My husband was the sweet emotional support & she was the slap in the face I needed. They each played a key role in our delivery & I’m forever thankful for the both of them.

6 : 0 2 A M

That first cry was the absolute best sound in the world. He was here & he was healthy – no need for a visit to the NICU thank the heavens. At this point the nurses were finally able to get my hospital bracelet on & confirm my identity (ha!) & the doctor started his repair work on my lady bits. Once he said “I’m sorry for what I did to you” I knew it was in my best interest not to ask how many stitches he was doing down there. OH the beauty of child birth! (but for real our bodies are freaking incredible).

It really was an intense, crazy experience but I remember being so amazed not only at myself but my body. I had never in a million years intended on having a natural birth but I now understand why people make that choice. Once my 30 minutes of panicking at the idea of not having drugs wore off, I will admit that there was no pain in the actual pushing portion of my labor. At that point it’s all pressure & you can actually feel things happening when you push. My first time in labor I felt so defeated as I pushed for 2 hours & felt no progress. This time I knew exactly when to push, where to push & knew my effort was achieving something.

Would I do it again au-natural? I actually think I might. Especially if my labors went from 24 hours the first time down to 3.5 hours the second time – if there’s another baby one day it might come out in as little as 1 hour if my math is correct.

I’ve always heard that your recovery with no epidural is much quicker but as you can imagine at how fast our little sunny side up bundle of cuteness came into this world, my body is still in recovery mode a month later. I’ll share a separate post on that subject including my must have recovery items that got me through these past 4 weeks. If you’ve made it this far let me know below if you’ve had a natural birth or if it’s something you’d ever consider. I was always a hard no but as you know with kids, you always end up doing the things you swore you’d never do.

HLL xx

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