It’s been almost two years since our hospital experience, but I need to recollect my thoughts and also to warn to-be-dads. I recall the whole experience as chaotic and somewhat unprofessional, and as a to-be-dad, I felt way underprepared.
I also admit to wrongdoings because I requested my wife to take a tablespoon of castor oil to trigger labor earlier that night. My wife had two instances of prodromal labor the week before, so we tried castor oil suggested by Youtube videos. I think it worked because she went into early labor a few hours after.
Anyway, I’ll summarize the night without going into too much detail. I’m not going to mention the hospital because this was not a janky hospital, and I feel that this experience could be similar at most U.S. hospitals.
(1) Most of my wife’s labor was during the night. I think early labor started around 8 PM.
(2) The nurses were tired. When the nurse tried to take my wife’s blood using a syringe, something messed up and blood spewed all over the nurse and my wife.
(3) The doctors were tired. We barely saw our primary doctor, and each time she looked like she just woke up from a nap.
(4) The nurses detected meconium (baby poop), which added potential risk to the labor.
(5) Epidurals can fail. We opted for the epidural early on, but the epidural seemed to apply to the wrong areas.
(6) The nurses suggested emergency C-section surgery many times. My wife had a relatively healthy pregnancy, and they didn’t seem to have a good reason when asked why. We were below the average labor times at the time of these suggestions.
(7) The doctor used an invasive contraction monitoring tool without consent. I thought this was unprofessional especially when it seemed a little unnecessary to monitor the strength of the contractions and my wife requested to remove because of an odd pain.
(8) The nurses would not believe my wife was ready to push. They gave in and offered practice pushes without adjusting the bed to the pushing position. The nurses were surprised when the baby started crowning and called for the doctor.
(9) The doctor suggested using forceps right after the baby started crowning. I heard forceps leave marks on the baby for weeks, and we were only at about 30 minutes of pushing, which seemed to be below average.
I didn’t realize how much the dad has to be prepared in terms of decision making. I had to say no to many suggestions after some research, and while I felt okay about my decisions, I could’ve very easily made regrettable decisions. While I don’t think you should ignore suggestions from medical professionals, I think it’s important to have a better understanding of the situation to help make better decisions. Here’s what I suggest to review:
(1) Your wife’s preferences and thresholds. Understanding what she would want to do is important because she may not be able to make good judgements because of the pain and/or epidural.
(2) Average times for early labor for first-time moms. Up to 12 hours
(3) Average times for active labor for first-time moms. Up to 8 hours
(4) Average times for pushing for first-time moms. Up to 2 hours
All-in-all I was not completely satisfied with our hospital experience, but I was still extremely happy that my wife and our baby were healthy. The realities are that there were many other new families at the hospital that night, that this is a regular job for the doctors and nurses, and that I’m another annoying new dad. I hope this blog can better prepare to-be dads or at least set better expectations.