I recently delivered our second baby, and the experience was vastly different from when I delivered our first. Here is how my first labor and delivery went. I had a pleasant experience both times but for very different reasons. While the first labor was longer, you'll soon see why this second one was a little more difficult.
Because of my age and the fact that I was "of advanced maternal age" (formerly known as having a "geriatric pregnancy"; neither of those terms sounds that good :)), my doctor did not want me to go past my due date, just like last time. He scheduled me to be induced and required that I get tested for Covid before my inducement date. Shortly before I got tested, I started experiencing symptoms I was sure were allergy related. Maybe more of a cross between allergies and a mild cold. Those symptoms lasted about three days. I took Benadryl at night and Zyrtec during the day, and they both helped me, so I figured it couldn't be Covid. I had a very slight cough, which I again attributed to allergies. The only other symptoms I felt for a couple of days were aches in my legs and being a little more tired than normal. However, I was nine months pregnant, so that's what I chalked it up to: allergies and pregnancy. Either way, I went and got tested. The next evening, my OB called me with the results. I had tested positive. I couldn't believe it! My doctor explained some things to me, like protocols they'd have to implement for my delivery and how they would probably reschedule my inducement date to one on which they wouldn't have as many scheduled deliveries at the hospital. I barely heard a word he said; I started thinking about what that would mean for my husband and my daughter, as well as what it would mean for my parents, who were scheduled to come into town to help out. Because I was infected, I was supposed to quarantine away from my husband and daughter, which would literally be impossible, and I told the lady from the local Department of Health as much. So, basically, we agreed that I would wear a mask around them and stay away as much as possible. Staying away from my daughter was the most difficult thing, mostly because she's my shadow but also because I just do so much with her. She's my sidekick! More on that in the next post.
I informed my parents that I had tested positive, and they (understandably) decided to delay their visit. I also refused to allow someone else to come into our "infected" home to watch our daughter while my husband and I went to the hospital (and the lady from the Department of Health agreed), so we decided that I would go to the hospital by myself and my husband would stay home with our daughter. It was a very tough, sad decision to make, but we decided it was for the best. My husband was certainly sad that he would miss the birth of his son, but we realized that it could be way worse. For example, there are some fathers who are deployed and don't get to meet their babies for a year or more. So this wasn't SO bad, all things considered.
The doctor ended up delaying my inducement date by a couple of days so that I'd be at the hospital when there weren't as many deliveries scheduled. (My doctor told me later that he was glad they moved my date because there were a ton of deliveries on the original date.) They wanted as few people in and out of my room as possible. Leading up to the inducement date, he asked that I check my temperature daily (I never had a fever) and put on a pulse oximeter every day to test my oxygen saturation (it remained in the high end of normal the whole time I was infected). Also, I would have to wear a mask during delivery and I wasn't sure if it would affect my breathing so I think they wanted to make sure my oxygen levels were good.
On the morning of the inducement, my husband and daughter dropped me off at the hospital and off I went to have a baby! I arrived at about 6:50-6:55am. I was taken straight to a labor and delivery room and they started me on the Pitocin almost immediately after I was checked in. Let's say this was around 7:30am. Shortly thereafter, my doctor arrived (mind you, he came in to deliver my baby on his day off) and broke my water. The reason he wanted to move my labor along, including getting me my epidural before I got too uncomfortable, was because he didn't want my breathing to become too labored. It never got labored at all. A couple hours into labor, maybe at 9:45, I got my epidural. While I was waiting for the epidural to do its thing, I worked on a peanut ball to see if I could help things progress. I was progressing pretty quickly but the epidural really wasn't working as well as it did last time. I could still feel everything below my hips. I remember that, at about 10:30, I sent my husband a message telling him that they thought I'd be delivering the baby within two hours. Well, at about 11:35, it was go time! The epidural didn't really have enough time to work through my system, so my lower body wasn't as "dead to the world" as it was last time. I could feel a lot more of what was happening. Which actually was a huge help because I called the nurse when I got the sudden urge to push. I wouldn't have had that urge had I not been able to feel anything. Anyhow, the doctor came right in and off we went. I think I pushed for less than 10 minutes and out came my son. :)
My first labor lasted 16 hours from start to finish, and this one lasted about four hours! I am relieved it worked out this way because, while I was asymptomatic by this point, I definitely ran the risk of being mildly short of breath, so it's good that this went so much more quickly. I'm also grateful that things went so smoothly and there were no complications, mostly because my husband was not there to support me. Having an uneventful labor and delivery made it more OK that he wasn't there and that I was just there with my amazing doctor and the wonderful nurse who was assigned to my room. It's worth nothing that both of them, as well as everyone else who had business to conduct in my room, wore regular surgical masks, I think face shields, and these plastic clothes covers. There was also some sort of air purifier vent situation in the room. Very simple precautions. I am sure they weren't wearing Hazmat suits (which I half-seriously expected :)) because I was asymptomatic and technically over my infectious/quarantine period. The last thing they did was keep me in that room. Basically, they brought the postpartum room to me. Instead of moving me to a different floor for recovery, they simply took out the labor and delivery bed and replaced it with a postpartum recovery bed. My doctor cleared with a neonatologist that I could do skin-to-skin with my baby immediately, that I could nurse if I wanted, and that he could stay in the room with me as long as he was six feet away from me when he wasn't on me. I wore a mask the whole time, just in case. They tested him for Covid twice during our stay, and he tested negative both times. I was relieved to say the least. I had a lovely time spending two days with my son doing some bonding, and it was honestly so nice to not have any visitors.
My recovery this time was as uneventful as it was last time. I was sore, but I was definitely less sore than I was last time. I think being able to feel more of the delivery meant I could more accurately focus my energy while pushing. However, I definitely wanted to stay the two nights because I did need some time to recover by myself before I saw my daughter again. Last time, we stayed in the hospital for four days because my daughter had a fever and they wanted to run tests on her. I'm obviously beyond thrilled that we didn't experience that again, but the two nights there were needed. Food-wise, the hospital had made no improvements with its vegan offerings. They figured out something to provide me for every meal, but I'm glad I packed myself some sandwiches (hummus and cucumber) and fruit just in case.
So that was it! About 48 hours after I delivered my son, my husband and daughter came to pick me up. Our family was complete!