Baby Porter Has Arrived! How Labor Can Differ the 2nd Time Around

Our son Jidenna Jeffrey Porter has made his arrival and we couldn’t be more grateful to God for a successful labor & delivery experience. Walking out of the hospital alive and well with my child in tow is not something I take for granted. This especially being a Black woman where the maternal health care crisis can directly impact me more than others (read this blog).

Baby Porter weighed 8lbs 15oz and measured 21.5 inches long. He came into the world using his very healthy set of lungs to make his appearance known with a huge scream even before he was fully out of the birth canal. People often say my husband and I can be a little dramatic, so I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

I’m sure many of us have heard that every pregnancy, labor, and delivery experience is different, and I am a living testament of just how true this is. I’ve written about how this “geriatric pregnancy” differed from my first (read this blog), but I will highlight some of the differences between my actual labor & delivery experience as well.

Whether you’re a pregnant mom looking to read about someone else’s experience, a man who will one day support a pregnant woman, or anyone in between, this list may be useful in highlighting just how drastically different the same woman’s experience can be in just a few short years.

Here is how my experience differed with each child:

1) The induction experience

With my daughter I got impatient at 40.3 weeks and decided upon an elective induction that no one really recommended. With my son, however, I had four different obstetricians recommend that I induce labor in the 39th week due to may age, race, new evidence based recommendations, and my baby’s projected weight.

With my daughter the induction took roughly 12 hours to even begin despite using more interventions (foley bulb, pitocin, membrane rupture). With my son, however, contractions began after 3 hours by only using one dose of cytotec; the membrane rupture occurred much further along the process.

Both inductions ended up being good experiences even though they were vastly different.

2) Length of labor

With my first child, we checked into the hospital at 2am on a Wednesday and didn’t deliver until the evening of the following Thursday. It was roughly a 42 hour long process from start to finish.

With my son, we checked in at 7pm one day, and delivered by 3pm the following day which was roughly a 20 hour long process. I later learned that the nurse charted that I was in “active labor” for 4.5 hours, even though the whole 20 hour long process felt pretty active to me.

With my daughter I spent all of my time laboring in, or around the bed with the use of nitrous oxide to aid in pain relief. Although I’d heard that using a bath tub/pool can help with labor pains, I was intimidated by the idea of getting in water.

This time around, however, I used the bathtub for a portion of labor and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. In hindsight, I probably should’ve stayed in the tub even longer than I did. This hospital didn’t offer nitrous oxide, so that was yet another difference between my two experiences.

With both children I decided to get an epidural and that experience was also different each time.

With my daughter the anesthesiologist was able to place the epidural with ease and I was never completely numb, even though it was still very effective. On the other hand with my son, it took the anesthesiologist a while longer to place the epidural, I was completely numb, and eventually became concerned that I wouldn’t be able to push effectively as a result. Spoiler: I was in fact able to push and everything was fine.

The first time I got the epidural because I didn’t know what to expect and the second time I got it because I knew exactly what to expect. Both times I’m very happy that I did.

3) Pushing

When the time came to push with my daughter, it felt like an overwhelming urge that I couldn’t stop. After a bit of coaching on how to effectively push, I was able to do so after thirty minutes of immense effort. The nurses congratulated me and I learned that thirty minutes of pushing was great, especially for a first time mom. I always wondered if all the pelvis & hip stabilization exercises I did as an athlete contributed to the relatively easy pushing process.

When it was time to push with my son, I again felt like I couldn’t stop, but I was instructed to wait for pushing until my OB arrived. When she arrived roughly nine minutes later, I needed less coaching on how to push than before. I was able to push my son out in eight minutes and four pushes apparently. It felt like a full body workout where I was pushing for hours, so it was hard to believe when they told me it was only eight minutes. I guess that was a result of how intense the moment truly was.

4) The emotional experience

Delivering my daughter was an out of body experience. Between the nerves, excitement, joy, uncertainty, contentment, disbelief, euphoria and all the other emotions in between, I remember feeling overwhelmed the first time I carried her in my arms. Let’s just say there was a lot of (loud) praising, tears, and a feeling unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.

On the other hand, when I was heading into the labor & delivery ward the second time around with my son I had a sense of peace from the knowledge of the experience with my daughter. I knew it was going to be intense but I was ready for it & there were very little nerves. I approached it with confidence in knowing if I did it before, I can do it again. This mindset relieved the pressure associated with the fear of the unknown that I had with my daughter’s delivery.

When I held the new baby for the first time, I felt relief, gratitude, love, and excitement. Since I had a child before, disbelief wasn’t on that list.

I’ve learned that every pregnancy, labor, delivery, and child are different. And there is beauty in that. Some may be intimidated by the unknown, but I would encourage them to shift their perspective by finding peace in embracing the journey ahead, even if it’s different from what they expected.

This lesson can be transfered to all aspects of life as well. Just because an experience may vary from the first time doesn’t mean that you should be fearful. Know that there can be beauty, fulfillment, and satisfaction on the other side of uncertainty.


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