Ep 99: Kara’s Birth Story – Working Through a Very Long Labor

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I have another birth story episode for you today, and this one is special because there is an appearance from yours truly! When Kara submitted her story to be on the show, I had no idea that I had been a part of her journey, so it was incredibly fun to catch up with her and hear about her pregnancy & birth from beginning to end.

Kara and her husband live in Virginia with their 2-year-old son (and their second baby, who is due in a few weeks!). 

Kara talks about her first pregnancy, why it wasn't too eventful and what she learned about discomfort during prenatal cervical exams. She then tells us about her labor and why she wanted to labor at home as long as possible and avoid medical intervention where possible. She also talks about laboring for more than 40 hours and why she eventually decided to get an epidural.

Kara shares what it was like when she met me during her delivery and how she was finally able to relax enough, get some sleep and push her son into the world. We also discuss the postpartum period a bit and how counseling helped her work through some off-and-on postpartum depression. 

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • What symptoms Kara navigated during her pregnancy and how she prepared for birth
  • Why routine prenatal cervical exams at the end of pregnancy aren't totally necessary - unless you have symptoms of labor or we're discussing induction 
  • Why Kara and her husband didn't do genetic testing during her first pregnancy
  • What her labor at home was like and how she finally decided to go to the hospital
  • How Kara labor was different than she thought and how she managed pain & discomfort throughout
  • Why she ultimately decided to get an epidural after a long labor and how it helped her finally rest & deliver her son
  • What Kara experienced in the postpartum period

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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I want this podcast to be more than a one sided conversation. Join me on Instagram where we can connect outside of the show! Through my posts, videos, and stories, you'll get even more helpful tips to ensure you have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. You can find me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. I'll see you there!

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Ep 99: Kara's Birth Story - Working Through a Very Long Labor

Nicole: So this is a first with a birth story episode. It is a birth story where I am actually a part of it. Oh my goodness.

Nicole: Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OB GYN who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it. Well, hello there. Welcome.

Nicole: Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 99. Thank you so much for being here with me today. In today's episode of the podcast, we have another birth story and birth story episodes are probably my favorite because, and I've said this before. They give me a glimpse into birth that I don't normally get. I always learn something new from every single birth story in this one is no exception. We have Kara on the episode today, Kara is a mother and wife. She lives in my neck of the woods in Virginia. She has a two year old son, her wonderful husband, Jamie, and a baby boy on the way. She works as a data analyst for a large nonprofit organization. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially outdoors and listening to podcast. And in this particular season of life, Kara is just trying to keep things as simple and enjoyable as possible.

Nicole: I love it. Kara joins us to share her story of a long but gratifying labor and birth experience. Her labor began on the 12th and she didn't deliver until the 14th. She had a doctor for her pregnancy and midwives for her labor and birth. And as I mentioned, I play a role in her birth. She delivered at a hospital where I used to work, and I actually play a role in one of the most painful parts of her birth, unfortunately, but also in helping it to be a great experience in the end. So this was a really fun episode for me. There's a lot to learn from it. You are going to enjoy it. Now, one of the things that Kara talked about is how important her childbirth education was to helping her during her birth. She did Bradley Childbirth Education, and I could not agree more about the importance of childbirth education.

Nicole: That is why I created my online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course, it ensures you are calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful birth. I am in the home stretch of putting the finishing touches on a completely updated version of the course. The course content itself was already great, but it did need some more visual elements to help bring it home a bit stronger. So I'm completely rerecording the entire thing and it will be launched at the end of this month. So those of you who are already part of the course, you will get access to the updated, updated content for free. And those of you who aren't, but are thinking about it, go ahead and join now so you can lock it in at the current price. You can check out all the details at drnicolerankins.com/enroll. And there's a 30 day money back guarantee. So if for some reason you're not happy with it, you can always ask for a refund. All right. So let's get into the birth story episode with Kara and quick note. I had trouble with the audio on my side of the recording. So my voice quality is not what it usually is. So please forgive me. This interview actually made me realize that I needed a new podcast microphone, which I now have. So forgive me for that, but enjoy the episode anyway with Kara.

Nicole: Alright, well, Kara, thank you so much for agreeing to come on to the podcast. I had no idea when you filled out the form until we just talked a few minutes ago. Um, I, I don't want to like spoil the surprise in a way, but maybe I do want to spoil the surprise that I am involved in your birth story.

Kara: Yes, I even looked you up to make sure I was like, it's gotta be the same person. There's no other Dr. Rankins at that hospital.

Nicole: Pretty much. Yeah. Oh, well, I am super excited. This is a first where someone whose birth I was involved in is coming on to the podcast. So I so appreciate it. So why don't we start off by having you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?

Kara: Well, I live in this kind of a suburb of Richmond, Virginia, and I am a mom and a wife. My husband is Jamie and he works close by and, and uh, for a large bank. And then I work in nonprofit and we've both been in those industries for almost a decade. And then we decided to, um, expand our family. And we have a son who is a little over two years old. He just turned two in September. And I am actually pregnant right now with my second. And I am due February 4th.

Nicole: Alright, well congratulations on baby number two.

Kara: Thank you.

Nicole: Yeah. So why don't you tell us a bit about what your pregnancy and prenatal care was like?

Kara: So my first pregnancy and prenatal care was pretty uneventful. I, when I listened to other people's birth stories and pregnancy stories, I'm like, wow, I, I really had it pretty easy. I will say that I was nauseated the entire time that I was pregnant and it wasn't, I never got sick, but it was just basically like feeling like you're seasick all the time. And that motion sickness kinda, um, having to at least have, can't go very long without something in my stomach. Like, I can't go more than like two hours, three hours without something, except if I'm asleep. And then I remember the first pregnancy was, I had the weirdest taste in my mouth the entire time. It was like metal, like a metal taste. But I mean, other than that, I didn't have any big issues. I mean, I, I walked every day. I, you know, of course I was working full time, so I just plugged along and I remember my OB telling me, like, you have a, just a boring pregnancy.

Kara: I don't have anything to tell you about it. And it, I will say, you know, the first one is always eye opening. I didn't realize how much my body would change and how, you know, even afterwards how much it would change. I, I guess I thought, Oh, you just have a baby and you bounce right back or you have a baby and it, you know, you just have a belly and that's it. It's like, no, that's wrong. Um, so, so then yes, the first pregnancy was, and this one is very similar. I don't have, I still have the nausea and exhaustion, which has happened in both. And it lasts the entire time. So whenever people are like, Oh yeah, you know, after 12 weeks you should be good. You shouldn't have any of that. I know. I'm like, no, no, I'm sick the whole time. Um, so yeah, that, that was my pregnancy. And just my, my entire experience with that

Nicole: Weird how it's like, like why the weirdest thing that happened? Like the taste thing, like what in the world with hormones, what things are coming together to make this weird thing happen? And they almost always immediately stop like very shortly after birth.

Kara: It's amazing. I, um, I just remember that and the food aversions are so like this pregnancy, I can't have anything that has red sauce on it. Like anything that's too like, like marinara, I can't have that. It's I cannot, and I finally have been able to have like coffee a little bit here and there, but, um, those are the two things and like vegetables. I remember this pregnancy and my first pregnancy, I was just averse to vegetables. I didn't, they grossed me out. I, yeah. I don't know what the purpose, I don't know if you have any insight?

Nicole: I don't, no. We don't know. Yeah, it's weird.

Kara: Yeah. Uh, I don't know. And it's like, you would think you would want those things while you're pregnant, but no, I, I basically ate like a teenage boy from the time I started to get, you know, the first kind of signs of pregnancy where you start feeling nauseous and you start getting the symptoms probably around like week six or seven or eight or something. And then I had the food aversions and like, just didn't want to eat anything with a vegetable in it until like week 25 or something, so.

Kara: Lots of like things where I had to like hide vegetables in it, like smoothies or, you know, I would, you would not see me eating a salad. Let's just put it that way.

Nicole: Right, right, right. Oh, well, how did you feel about the, your prenatal care? Um, this year

Kara: I had a, I had a really great OB GYN. They were, she was really open to me going medication-free because my plan was, I didn't really want the interventions. I wanted to be in a hospital. I just didn't want all of the, I didn't want to be induced. I didn't want to, I wanted to be able to go as long as they would let me go. I wanted to go into labor naturally and I wanted to go as long as I could without medications. And they were so open to that. Um, it was really nice and that'll play into like the story also. Once we get into it.

Nicole: Right, right. Yeah. So what did you do to prepare for your birth and doing this an unmedicated birth or low intervention birth?

Kara: I, my husband and I took the Bradley Method classes and, you know, this was before COVID, so we could go in person. And, um, we, it was like a 12 week class and we learned so much about birth, which I will say that by itself was helpful just knowing which phase you're in or what terminology they're using, the doctors and nurses, and, you know what they're saying. You know what everything means, and you're not, you know, going into it with not understanding what, you know, plus three station means or any of that terminology. It was just really helpful to know that.

Nicole: So, so, so important that people do some sort of childbirth education. So you have an understanding of the process absolutely. Like critical. Yeah, for sure. So what are some things that you wanted for your birth other than to have an unmedicated birth or low intervention?

Kara: I would say that was really it, and I just didn't want those things. I think going into this second birth I'm, um, diff way different, but

Nicole: Oh, interesting. Well, you might as well talk about that. Do you want them to be different this time?

Kara: Yeah, I mean, you know, after going through what I did, I realized that I just, even though I had all the information and knowledge and the facts, I was not very good at relaxing. So it made it a lot more difficult for me during my labor. I didn't ex I didn't know what I was getting myself into, even though everyone tells you, like my, I remember my sister pulled me aside and was like, you know, this is going to hurt a lot. And I was like, you know, my sister, I love my sister. And she's just like, I just want to tell you, like, it's going to hurt a lot. And I'm like, okay.

Kara: I don't, I don't know what to do with that information until I'm in it, in that situation. It's like, I can't turn back now or are you telling me to turn back?

Nicole: Right.

Kara: Um, so yeah, I think this time, I'm way more focused on just trying to relax, learning that that's really key, I think in all of it. And you'll hear, you know what I mean, once I get into the story.

Nicole: Yeah. So let's, let's get into the, let's get into the story. What was your labor and birth like? This is crazy. This is like surreal for me because.

Kara: Cuz you're in it? You're like in it towards the end?

Nicole: Yes, so what was your labor and birth like?

Kara: So I was due September 6th, 2018. So my husband and I found out we were pregnant around like Christmas time, 2017. And I just want to say something about that really quick. I, we tried for a few months and my OB finally was like, I was like, what are we doing wrong? And she finally told us, like, you basically, you need to have sex every other day from the time that you stop your cycle until the next one starts. And so,

Nicole: Right.

Kara: Which I didn't, I was like, Oh, okay. Um, and so we did that and it had it worked, I didn't know the fertility awareness method or anything at that point. I do now, but at that, at that juncture, I didn't. So we were just like, well, you know, we've got to hit it at some point, something has got to happen if you're having sex that much. Um, so it worked and I remember taking a pregnancy test cause I felt really strange. I started spotting and I was like, Oh no, you know, my period's coming. And, and then nothing happened. It was like a few spots. And I was like, Hmm, this is interesting. And then I remember my breasts got so sore and I was like, this is weird. Why is my period not here yet? And we went up to Long Island for Christmas, with my sister-in-law's family. And she was like, you're definitely pregnant.

Kara: Like, let me give you a pregnancy test. And I took it and it said it was negative. And I was like, no, that can't be true. I, I have to be, cause these symptoms are so weird. I've never felt like this before. And I even started to feel bloated, which, I mean, I know it was the holidays, but it wasn't the same type of bloat that you would get from, you know, eating too much or something. So I, I was like, I'm just going to wait until I get home. So I remember I took a test on like December 28th or something and it was positive, but it was the faintest line. But I was like, I know that's, that means it's positive because if it's even if it's faint it's yes.

Nicole: Yeah.

Kara: So, we found out around then, and then, you know, the, the due date was going to be September 6th. So then we found out, um, about halfway, I guess, 20 weeks through. Cause we ended up not doing the genetic testing with our son.

Nicole: Okay. Did you just decide that you just like the information wouldn't help you or?

Kara: Yes, at the time I was, I was a tad bit younger than I am now. And I was like, if anything's wrong, they'll catch it on an ultrasound. We don't need, we don't need the genetic testing cause I'm not going to, if I find out that my child has something I'm not going to abort the fetus, you know what I mean? So I, I just, we just pushed forward and that, so we, then we found out the gender around, I think it was April and we found out it was a boy. So we were really excited. And um, at that point we just kind of went about our business, my pregnancy pressed on. I remember we went on kind of a baby moon to, um, Charleston, South Carolina in like June, which it was the hottest. And I'm like, I don't know. I was like seven months pregnant at that point almost. So I was, yeah, that was

Nicole: In hindsight. You're like, maybe we should, maybe we should not.

Kara: Maybe we should've gone to Maine or something, but, um, it was a business trip and kind of our baby moon at the same time. So, but I will say anyone that wants to go on a baby moon, Charleston has so many ice cream shops that I couldn't believe how much ice cream. Like it was like every block they had an ice cream store. It was amazing. Um, anyways, so we, we got through that. We, and then, you know, my due date starts approaching. I start going to my weekly appointments and nothing has happened yet. So I don't, I'm not dilated. I do remember the first time that she had to check me, so I wasn't dilated yet, but she checked me to just to see. And I was like that, that is really painful. That really hurts for you to check me. And I feel like no one tells you that.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. It can be. And it's totally like most, most people don't necessarily like have problems with pelvic exams outside of pregnancy or exams, but something about the way things change. It can be really uncomfortable.

Kara: Yeah. Anyway, I wasn't dilated. So my due date came and went, so September 6th, I'm, I'm like still working. I work from home and I, my coworkers are IM'ing me and they're like, where's the baby coming? And I'm like, no baby yet, so I'm working. And then I remember, um, we went on lots of walks and just tried to go out to eat as much as we could because we knew that probably wouldn't happen for a while. So it was kind of a nice little time, wait, just waiting for the baby to start or for me to go into labor. Um, and then I remember September 11th, I was thinking to myself like, okay, please don't let me have a baby on September 11th. Um, no offense to anyone who has a birthday on that day, but I didn't really want that for my child. And so I, that day came and went and then that morning, so that would have been the morning of September 12th was, um, I woke up at like 3:00 AM and I remember I, I had been going, having to wake up in the middle of the night, every night for like the last couple of weeks anyway, just to eat something.

Kara: Cause I had gotten so hungry in the middle of the night. I would have to go have a snack cause I couldn't sleep uh, unless I ate something. So I'd go eat like peanut butter with crackers or something. And so I went into the kitchen and then I felt like something wasn't right. Like there was more liquid down there than normal, but it didn't like a gush. Like you hear about women's water breaking. It wasn't like that. It was like, okay, something's different. It feels really like a lot more down there. So I, I went back to my bedroom and I was like, I think something's not right. I think I, I think we may need to call the doctor. So my OB had told me if you think anything is not right, you know, call the number, the hotline or whatever the after hours line and someone'll help you.

Kara: So I did that and they said to go to the hospital and have someone check to see if my water was in the process of breaking. So we, I think we got to the hospital at like 5:00 AM or something or 5:30. And they took me right back and I, they checked me. I think they told me my water had not broken. And, but they said, we, we think you're in labor though. And I was like, what? I don't feel anything. There's no feeling at all. Um, and they said, well, you're having regular contractions and this whole time, the Braxton Hicks contractions, which I now know were Braxton Hicks contractions. I thought they were just my baby, like pushing really hard on that, on my uterus or something like trying to get out. I don't know what I thought, but, and at that point I was like, okay, okay.

Kara: We're in labor I guess. And they told me, you know, I guess we'll see you later. Like you're probably going to go into full blown labor and we'll see you later this afternoon, you're past your due date. I should probably say too that I had a doctor's appointment on the 13th. So this is the morning of the 12th. And I had been scheduled for like my one week after my due date appointment where they would start, you know, saying we may need to get things moving here. So I was just hoping that I wouldn't have to do that.

Nicole: And did you, had you felt any pressure that you sh you know, like needed to be induced or anything like that?

Kara: Oh, no. My doctor never told me that we would ever have to do that. She was just trying to warn me that if we go too far past my due date, that I would need to make a decision, whether I wanted to keep going, because I don't know. I, I don't know if she was allowed to let me go very much longer if I was still going to be in her care. I think I obviously, I think I could have said, Oh, I'm going to go till I'm 43 weeks or whatever, but she, yeah.

Nicole: Yeah, the risk of stillbirth starts to go up. So we start to, we, you know, after 41 weeks, then we start definitely talking about induction and yes, folks at the, I shouldn't say the hospital gets like antsy or anything, but people would start to be like, this is, it would be a little bit unusual for someone to go like past 42 weeks or even up to 42 weeks. For sure.

Kara: Yeah. So at that point, uh, you know, we went home and I just, I worked, I was like, well, I'm just going to work. I'm not in pain. I'm just going to work. So I started working and I remember I got through most of the day. And then I would say around one o'clock or two in the afternoon, I started to feel a change like, Hm, these are starting to get, like, there are a lot of pressure. I'm starting to get tired. I need to just stop working. So I S I told all my coworkers, goodbye, I'm starting my maternity leave. Pretty sure I'm in, I'm in full blown labor now. So I, I clocked out and I, I, I remember I like went for a walk and I had been going for walks, but I went on this walk and I remember my birth coach telling me, like my Bradley teacher telling me that when you start having trouble walking, that's when you know that you're in labor.

Kara: Right. And so I go for my walk and I'm starting to have trouble walking. Like I have to keep stopping because of the pressure. But again, they hadn't gotten really bad. They weren't, they just kind of felt like a lot of pressure. It wasn't, um, painful really. And so I remember walking by people too in my neighborhood, and they're like, looking at me like, what is she doing? Because I'm like bent over and I'm like, I need to go home. I don't know why I'm out here. And it was hot because it was September in Virginia. So it's like still, you know, really hot and humid. So I went home and I remember my husband and I ordered some, you know, our last meal and I ordered Chinese food. And I, I just, I didn't have much of an appetite. So I just got a little soup and I started eating that. And we put on, I think we put on some music, like we put on the Grateful Dead or something. And we were just kind of getting excited. Like, we're, you know, it's happening, it's finally happening. And then, um, the first really painful contraction hit me. And I, I was like, wait a minute, wait, wait, wait, this is not, this is not what it's gonna feel like, is it like,

Kara: And I just, I remember, uh, it happened and I, it stopped me in my tracks. And I was like, no, this is not, no, no, no, no, I can't do this. And my husband, um, the first one hit and we, we were like, all right, well, we better start timing these. So we started timing them and they were coming, you know, every seven minutes I would say lasting about a minute. And then the next one came and it was just as painful. And I held on, I remember I grabbed my husband and I was like, holding him, like had my arms around his neck. And I was so I started crying. I was like, there's no way I can do this. No, this is terrible. I'm so scared right now. And he kind of calmed me down and he said, you can do this. You were made to do this.

Kara: You went through, you know, we went through those classes, we know that this is what's supposed to happen and you just need to find a way to relax. So I turned the music off and I started to kind of just focus on timing, everything, and trying to be as comfortable as I could. And I, um, so this was like six o'clock in the evening by then. So to give you a timeline, let's see it kind of, I guess it would have, you could say it kind of, I always say it started at 6:00 PM on the 13th or yeah, right on the 12th. Yeah. 6:00 PM on the 12th. And so my husband and I are, you know, he kind of helps me time them, but I start going inward a lot more. I'm ignoring him. I'm not, not paying attention to anything. And then before I know it it's dark out and it's, you know, it's starting to get really hard for me to even talk or focus on anything else. So I labored at home for, you know, hours and hours and hours. And I, that was my goal was I, my teacher was like, if you want the lowest intervention birth, but you still want to go to the hospital, you need to try to get as far along as you can at home. And that way they're not gonna try to do anything to you, which sounds terrible.

Nicole: But I mean, it's 100% accurate, like that exact statement. So yeah. Yeah,

Kara: Yeah. So I, um, I was just like, okay, well, I got to stay here until my contractions are five, one, one, but they'd never really progressed to that point. I mean, they would get there and then they'd kind of go back to being seven minutes apart and then they would, so this went on for a long time. And, um, before I knew it, it was, it was morning. I had been laboring in my, like between my living room and my bathroom. Just like every time I got a contraction, I would get up from the couch. I'd have to walk to the bathroom and sit on the toilet. I don't know why that felt better, but I kept doing that. And I remember my sister-in-law told me to get depends for when you're in labor, because all kinds of things come out and you don't want to ruin whatever you're wearing. You want, if you're sitting in a car or you're on your couch or whatever. So I remember I had depends on, and I was just like, this is so I never expected this. I didn't think this at all what it was going to be like.

Kara: And, um, I'm sure my cats were completely confused and terrorized because I was just pacing all night in my living room. Just trying to breathe through it, trying to, you know, sit in a different position. I should also mention that I could not lay down. I could not, it was so uncomfortable to lay down the position that my son was in. I couldn't lay down. I couldn't sit for very long either. So trying to sleep was impossible. So they always say, well, you can, you can sleep. You can go to sleep. If you, if you're tired enough or between contractions. And I was just like, that's impossible. So I had been up all night and then, you know, morning came and my husband had gotten some sleep and he came into the room and he's like, you know, do we need to go to the hospital soon? What's happening? And I'm like, I, I'm not going anywhere. I can't go anywhere. And he's like, well, you have a doctor's appointment at like nine. And I'm like, I'm not going to that. No way. I'm not driving. We're not getting in a car. We're not going anywhere. And you know, he had to put his foot down and get me out of the door. And he called the doctor and they said she needs to come in. We need to check her. We don't know how far along she is. And so we drove to the doctor and that was the worst car ride of my life. I, it, it's not even that far. It was just terrible when you're in labor. And so I get there and I hobble in, I look terrible. I've got, I mean, I'm, I'm like crying at this point. I just am so exhausted and in so much pain. And then they tell me that I need to fill out some paperwork because their system went down and I have to like re-fill out a bunch of paperwork.

Nicole: You're like I can't.

Kara: And I, you know, I'm at an OB's office. So I'm like standing in the waiting room in labor. And there's all these other women sitting there and pregnant looking at me and my husband is trying to comfort me. And I'm like standing in the corner, facing the wall, like crying, just in, just hating every minute of this. Um, and just, I feel bad for any woman who had to watch me in that waiting room. Cause they were probably terrified that of what they were about to go through. So I, they took me back and my doctor checked me and I was six and a half, I think. Right. And so she's like, you need to go to the hospital. So we, we drove home, we got our bag, we drove to the hospital and I think I got there at like 10:30 in the morning. And so this would have been the 13th now.

Kara: So it had been a while already. Um, so I got there and they took me back and I immediately, when I remember it took me forever to walk down the hallway in the labor and delivery unit, I had to keep stopping. I, it was just took me forever. And then I got into the room and I saw the, the equipment and like the warmer and the everything. And I, I just lost it. I lost my mind. I started freaking out. I was like, it just hit me like, Oh my gosh, like this thing is going to come out of me. I have to push this out of me. And I was already in so much pain that I, I just couldn't fathom that this was happening. And I remember the nurses, you know, gathered in one of them, pulled me aside and was like, just breathe. Okay. It's okay. It's okay. And, um, finally the, I had signed up for the midwife program at that, at that hospital. And so things calmed down a little bit once there weren't as many people around and there was just the midwife and she was so nice. And I think her name was Jen- na. Jenna or Jen. Yeah. Yeah.

Kara: And she was so sweet and you know, said, I'm just going to leave you alone because that's what you said you wanted. And you just, you know, they're going to come in and check you, check the baby every hour or 30 minutes. I couldn't remember which, but, but that's it, that's all they're gonna do is they're gonna come in and they'll put the monitor on your belly and that's it. And then they'll leave. And so I just labored in there for a really long time. I mean, it was 10:30 when I got there and everything was kind of a blur after that. Uh, I will say the nice thing was that I was able to eat and drink during my whole labor. So I was able to have, like, I had some like frozen mango. I had these little protein balls that I had made and, um, I had, you know, some juice and water and stuff.

Kara: So I had the energy I needed, but I think what I really needed was to relax and go to sleep because I just, I hadn't slept and that'll play into what, you know, the kind of this as it progressed. So I don't remember. I think they checked me at like 3:00 PM and I was at an eight. So I had not progressed a ton from 10:30 to then. So I kept laboring at this point. I had been on it for so long. Everything, you know, just felt like nothing was sacred. I, I think I had taken like all my clothes off. I was just wearing a hospital gown, no underwear on. I was just like sitting just, it just didn't. I just didn't want anything touching me and my, my poor husband, like he had gone through the Bradley method class with me and was expecting to be, you know, having to comfort me and massage my back or my shoulders this whole time. But I didn't, I did not want to be touched at all.

Kara: So that was really tough. And, uh, I remember at that point, some of the nurses came in and filled up the bathtub in the birthing room and it's not like a, a circular tub on the floor. It's like a, a regular bathtub. It just that's higher sides. And so I got in and that helped a little bit, I will say. Um, I think I stayed in there for like two hours, but as I got in the tub, I remember freaking out because I got hit with the worst contraction I had been hit with yet. And I started like screaming and I was like, I can't do this. I cannot do this anymore. Don't put me in that tub. And I eventually got in the tub, but you see what I mean though? Like I just, I could not relax. It was like every time things would get hard. It was just, I couldn't get ahead of it. Even though, even though my contractions were not super close together. So then I, the, there was like a shift change and I got kind of a new team of people and a new midwife. And it was an older woman. I think her name was Lois.

Nicole: Yeah.

Kara: And they checked me and I think I was at either an eight and a half or a nine at that point. So, um, again, I hadn't progressed to a whole lot, but, um, I remember I was sitting on this little, like fold out bed bench thing, that's in the labor and delivery rooms. And I was the only place that was comfortable for me. I could not sit on the bed. And I, I remember feeling like if I was bearing down, felt better. And so I started doing that and I think they checked me again a little while later. And I had, I was then at a nine and a half. And so I kind of started pushing, but I didn't feel like I needed to push if that makes sense. Right. Just did it because it felt a little better than not doing that. So then I, I remember I was, I had gone, I started laying down and I had my feet up and like Lois was trying to, I was trying to push basically every time I had a contraction and I guess they had started the proverbial timer because this went on for maybe like four hours or so at about two hours, uh, they came in another, like a nurse, not a midwife came in and said, we usually can only let you push for three hours.

Kara: And I was like, okay, you know, I have another hour. So we were hoping that he would come down a little more and he, he had come down, but he wasn't engaged enough yet for me to get him out. And so I kept pushing and I remember, um, then I hit the three hour mark. And I think that was when either you or someone else came in and said, I, I can let you go for another hour, but we're going to have to do something after that. And I knew that that meant either a C-section or it meant something. And so I, I tried to keep going and the lowest Brill, I think she was, she was trying to like re reach us. So this was so painful. She tried to like reach up inside of me and try to like open me up a little bit more, which did not work and was horrible.

Kara: And then I remember, I believe if you came, this is when I met you, you came in the room and you said, I think that I can turn him. I think he's, his head is tilted to the side and he's having trouble coming down. And if I can just turn him a little bit, then I think he'll come down and I would just looked at my husband and I was like, okay, fine, fine. And you did that. And I remember I was laying there and you had to like reach up and try to turn him. And I was, you know, it's like during a contraction and it was the most painful thing I had ever experienced in my life. And I remember screaming at you and being like, get out like no I can't no no no and you were like, okay, okay. Okay. Okay. And I think that at that point, they suggested that I get on the bed and use the crossbar to try to like squat down and see if I could change my position.

Kara: And I got in the bed. I, I hated that I could not handle standing like that. And especially in a squat position and that didn't work. And I remember Lois said, I'll be right back. And I think she went out in the hallway and must've consulted with you or another doctor or something. And they came back and they said, we have a couple options for you. You know, you've of hit your, your mark here. You're, you've been pushing for like four hours and your options are either we can give you an epidural and see if you relax, if that'll relax you enough and he'll turn, or we can give you a C-section. And of course, I said, I turned to my husband and I was like, I'm sorry, but I, I just can't do this anymore. Right. It's like, what do you mean? And I was like, I need an epidural. I can't do this anymore. I've been awake for almost, you know, it would, it would've been a while, uh, two nights, I guess, at that point. And I needed sleep and I couldn't relax anymore. I was exhausted. And, um, I said, I need an epidural. I have to get one. So what they don't tell you though, is when you request one, you're still in labor, until you get one. So I had to like sit there for, I guess it wasn't that long. It was maybe 20 minutes. And they came in and gave me the epidural. And I almost cried. I almost cried because I just couldn't believe how much relief it brought me. I immediately felt relaxed after they gave me that. And I was able to go to sleep for, I don't know, an hour or two, maybe. Right. And they came back in and they checked me and they said that I was 10 centimeters and that, um, he had turned like he had his head wasn't kinda crooked to the side anymore. And they were going to give me a little bit of Pitocin because my contractions were still not super frequent, um, which could have also been why I wasn't able to really get him out. Um, and so they did that and everybody came, it felt like this big party, like everybody came in the room, it was like three or four people all at one time.

Kara: And I, they just said, okay, you can start pushing. And it was the classic thing where I'm on the bed, sitting on the bed with my legs up and I just started pushing and it did not hurt at all. I just, I just couldn't believe, like, I'm so grateful that I had that at the end and that I looking back on it, I wish that I had gotten one when I got to the hospital versus waiting. I don't know. I mean, forever to get, to get it. I just didn't realize, you know, how much longer it was going to be. And so, but anyway, so I pushed him out. It really only took me. I don't know. It felt like it didn't take any time at all, like 20 minutes maybe. And, um, he came out and I held him and it was like the strangest best moment of my life.

Kara: He was, um, he, I think he was almost eight pounds, but he was really long. He was like 22 inches or something. And, um, I, you know, the placenta came out fine. I believe I tore, I know I tore, I just don't know to what extent and I was sewn up and which I didn't feel, thank God. And I held him and it was just bliss. It was just like everything I had always wanted. And it was even better because I wasn't in any pain. Right. Um, I finally had some relief. I had gotten a little bit of sleep and, um, he nursed immediately. And I just, I was so pleased at how everything turned out. I, I really thought I was headed for a C-section. I, I didn't. And I remember them, someone coming into my room later and telling me if I had had any other doctor on the floor at that time, I would have probably gotten one and I wouldn't have been.

Kara: So again, thank you so much because you gave me a chance and it seemed like you knew that if I, if I just had an epidural, it would give me enough to relax and I could do it. Um, cause he wasn't stuck. It was just like, his head was tilted a little bit. It wasn't like my pelvis was too small or he w he wasn't in distress either. He, the entire time, every time I had a contraction, they said his heart rate would like speed up. It was almost like he liked getting contracted on things. So, um, he, they said he did great in labor, so I didn't have any dangerous things happening. So that probably helped. But, but yeah. And then I remembered to, to kind of talk a little bit about the food thing right after I had Guy, his name is Guy, by the way, right after I had him, I remember they brought me like food, like breakfast or something, because it was really early in the morning, which I didn't say.

Kara: So it was, I think I've had him at 5:50 in the morning. So I think altogether, it was like 40 hours of labor or something. And I had him and they brought me breakfast and that first meal was like the best meal I've ever had because I couldn't nothing tasted like metal. I wasn't nauseated anymore. Food tasted normal and I hadn't eaten in a while. So it was already, it was already really good. So it was just an amazing experience. And I guess looking back on it, I just, you know, this time going into my second, I'm just, I know my limits. I know I need to relax more, but I also know that I really don't want to go through 40 hours of labor again. I would much rather, you know, yeah. I can still labor at home as long as I can, but I don't want to then get to the hospital and be like, well, I'm just going to keep going if I'm in excruciating pain. And I know that I can have the epidural, which I didn't expect, but I guess it was my saving grace at the end.

Nicole: Well, and you know, that story is not infrequent, that that happens where sometimes the epidural, it just helps your whole body to relax and rest and then things can happen. So I'm really glad that you ended up having the vaginal birth that you wanted, even if it wasn't exactly how you thought it would go. Labor is an unpredictable process as, as you now know. And it sounds like though, and I it's, you know, I'm grateful that I was, that I got to be a part of it, even a part of it was like torturing you to try to turn your baby. It is uncomfortable to try and do it. Uh, but it really, it really was a, it's a team effort. I think, you know, it's like, it's our whole, the whole culture of, um, of the hospital just makes a difference in terms of like, helping to go the distance. For sure.

Kara: Yes, absolutely.

Nicole: So then what was your postpartum period like as we wrap up?

Kara: So postpartum was, it was, um, very interesting. It was exhausting and I don't remember a lot of the first month home. I do. I do think it was just so much of a blur. I barely remember a lot of it, but, um, I did have some postpartum depression, but what's interesting is it seemed like it came in waves. It was like, I kind of had a little bit at first, nothing too bad though. It was just, I would, you know, I would get, I got upset when I was getting ready to go back to work. I cried and I couldn't believe that I was going to have to leave my son, you know, and then I remember actually months and months later having some really bad depression that I'd never experienced before. Um, and I, you know, it wasn't just like, Oh, you're having a bad day.

Kara: It was like, no, I feel sick. Like, I feel like I'm just don't want to do anything. Like I don't want to eat. I don't want to, nothing is exciting anymore. Like that type of feeling. And it felt like it wasn't triggered by anything. It was just there. And eventually I went to counseling and it seemed to kind of go away. But I, I thought it was interesting that it seemed to like have a, it started and it would stop and then it would come back and it almost seemed like it didn't have a or reason to it. Um, but it was, it was, it was definitely a transition going from being, you know, my husband and I by ourselves for, I don't know, eight years. And then we had a child all of a sudden, you know, and then it was, it was definitely a shift in our routine where, you know, I was, when I had my son, I was 32.

Kara: So, you know, we weren't young. I mean, we were young, but I'm saying like we weren't in our twenties. So we had already kind of established our lives. And so it was definitely a shift for us. Plus our parents are older cause we're both the youngest in the family. So we didn't have a lot of help. I guess our parents are, uh, also our parents live far away. So we didn't have a lot of the help that you, that some people have. But I mean, we made it through, we ended up getting a really amazing, uh, nanny for my son. Um, and she would come to my house while I worked from home, which I don't recommend. Uh, but, um, she had a son also, so she gave us a little bit of a discount on childcare. And so she would watch her son and my son at the same time at my house. And eventually we had to just have her, you know, I would just drop him off at her house because my son could hear me in the other room, you know, on conference calls or whatever. And he would just freak out, you know? Gotcha. So many times I had to get off the conference call and breastfeed him because he wouldn't take a bottle. And so it was a lot of just learning curves. And I will say that being a mom or being a parent in general, you really learn to adapt and overcome.

Nicole: Uh, 100%. Yes.

Kara: And you learned that nothing is set in stone, you can't make plans and you have to be okay with things not going as you planned.

Nicole: Absolutely. 100%, 100%. So looking back, is there, what would you say as we, as we finish is what your one favorite piece of advice that you would tell other women is they get ready for their birth?

Kara: I would say, try to find out the one thing or few things that you need to do to get yourself relaxed when you're in that much discomfort, because you're going to, even if you want all the interventions, you're still gonna, you may still have a period of time where you're not going to be able to have it right away. So you need to figure out what's going to be the best thing for you going into that situation to help you relax.

Nicole: Excellent, excellent advice. I think just like, it's kind of like part of the mindset piece of labor and birth and how important it is. Um, just to know some things to help you feel calm and like a sense of peace around it. Cause otherwise it can be a lot.

Kara: Yeah. It it's, it's a lot. I didn't expect it. And going into this second one, I'm doing all I can to figure out what is that thing that's really going to make me feel relaxed.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Um, and what are you doing? Are you doing any things like hypnobirthing? I'm just curious.

Kara: So this time I'm, I'm researching like hypnobirthing and doing a lot more meditation and writing down. Okay. What are the things that I know make me feel relaxed and that's, that's my course of action. This time. I'm going to try to do the same thing where I labor as long as I can at home, but I am not going to be afraid to get to the hospital and immediately get an epidural just because this time is so different. I don't have, I have a child already. I'm already tired a lot more. So the thought of going into a 40 hour labor is like, no, like I need to sleep. I need to be ready to nourish this next child. And I don't want to be tapped like that.

Nicole: Yeah. Gotcha. That makes perfect sense. Perfect sense. Well, thank you so much for agreeing to come onto the podcast and my apologies for our technical difficulties. I don't know what's going on with the software, but I appreciate your patience while we got our support. It was a really great story, tons of useful information. And, um, I just so appreciate you coming on. And I'm so grateful that I got to be a part of it.

Kara: Me too. And, um, I've, you know, I wish you all the best. I just wanted to say again, thank you so much because I think I would have been headed in a different direction if it wasn't for you.

Nicole: Aw, well thank you thank you thank you thank you.

Kara: You're so welcome.

Nicole: Well you take care.

Nicole: Alright. So as usual, wasn't that a lovely episode. I really enjoy talking to someone who I was part of her birth experience, even if it was like not the best part, but also what ended up being a good part. So thank you, Kara, for sharing your story. Now, after every episode of the podcast, when I have a guest on, I do something called Nicole's Notes where I talk about my top three or four takeaways from the episode, and here are my Nicole's Notes from the episode with Kara number one in the very beginning, Kara talked about how uncomfortable cervical exams are in the office. And I want to share a little tip about those cervical exams in the office. They aren't really necessary unless you have symptoms of labor or we are talking about induction. I hear a lot of people say that they're getting routine cervical exams at the end of pregnancy every week to check just because, and they don't really give you any information.

Nicole: Um, it's not likely that you're going to be significantly dilated if you haven't had any symptoms of labor. So I don't think it helps in like what we do with your pregnancy to do those routine checks. At the end of pregnancy, when I was in the office, I actually never did them again, unless someone had some symptoms of labor, um, or a complaint about something, or we were discussion discussing induction. Or if someone wanted to know, like, if someone wanted to know if they were dilated and they wanted me to check, then I would check, but I did not do it routinely. So please know that you can always decline. You don't have to have those quote unquote routine cervical exams at the end of pregnancy. Or you can ask, like, I'm just curious, what information does this provide? Is it going to change anything about my care?

Nicole: Is it likely that I'm dilated if I haven't had any symptoms of labor? So again, you don't have to have those routine cervical exams at the end of pregnancy. Number two, the moment that Kara described of, Oh wait, hold up. This is a contraction when she really feels it. And it's like, Oh my goodness, this is a lot. That's a really, really common occurrence, especially with your first baby. So don't be surprised if you go to the hospital, you think you may be an active labor and you're not quite yet. And it's still that early part. It is not uncommon that you don't appreciate how intense labor can be until it gets to that intensity. So don't feel guilty. Don't feel bad about that at all. Those contractions really need to be strong enough that they're taking your breath away. They're requiring all of your attention in order to focus and get through them.

Nicole: So just be mindful that you may not always know when they're at that point until you get to that point. And then the final thing I want to say is I love how Kara just really comfortably accepted that she got an epidural and that it was the right thing for her to help her relax. And then she'll probably get it sooner the next time. Now I'm not saying that you should get an epidural or that you should not get an epidural. What I'm saying is that it's important that you're comfortable with the decision that you know, that you can always change your mind and your choice does not reflect anything about you. It's just choice about how you manage pain in labor. So again, I just love how she comfortably came to that conclusion and that decision for herself. So there you have it for this episode, be sure to subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcast or wherever you're listening to me right now, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher.

Nicole: And you know, I would love it, if you leave an honest review in Apple Podcast in particular that helps the show to grow, that helps other women to find the show. So I so appreciate those kind reviews and I do shoutouts from those reviews from time to time as well. Do come hang out with me between episodes on Instagram. That's my favorite social media platform. I do live Q and A sessions there. I hang out in Instagram stories, provide lots of tips and information. So do check me out there. I'm on Instagram @drnicolerankis. So that is it for this episode do come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast, head to my website, drnicolerankins.com to get even more great information, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class, on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works as well as everything you need to know about my signature online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com and I will see you next week.