I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile. We’re finally settling into a groove, where I feel mostly like my normal self again (albeit with a baby attached to some body part now) and think I can tackle it. It was a life-changing experience, and I feel it’s important to document it. And of course, after being a blog post, it’s going to become a scrapbook page. :-) But if it makes you uncomfortable, then by all means, please skip! Or, if you missed it, you can read the first post here.
So we had finally got back to bed at 2:30 a.m. I get insomnia over the least little excitement, so of course, it was laughable I was trying to sleep at all. But I did manage to just drift off when I felt a rather insistent, intense ::squeeze::. Lower than low, and definitely different from the Braxton Hicks I’d been having. I remember thinking, “This is it!” and I punched T in the ribs. He had come to bed with his phone so that as soon as they started, we could time them. We sat there and waited patiently for the next one… expecting anywhere from a 10-20 minute gap.
Instead, four minutes later, I had a bigger, more intense, definitely more annoying ::sQuEeZe::. Wow, well, that’s closer together than we expected. But you know, they say not to call the dr. until they’re 5 minutes apart for at least an hour, let’s see if there’s a pattern. Sure enough, 6 minutes later, ::SQUEEZE::. These suckers weren’t joking around anymore. The timing wasn’t consistent, but I knew they may not be. We got out of bed and started a last minute rush.
Meanwhile, Thomas called my doula. (She had joked with us before, women would call her all the time in the middle of the night, wondering if they were in labor yet, and her husband would answer the phone, roll over and hand it to her, and go back to sleep. But then she would get a phone call, and her husband would say, “You leaving now?” She finally asked him how he knew, and he said, “It was the husband calling this time.” :-) ) She could hear me having a contraction in the background and said she would leave right away–if we decided to go to the hospital before she made it to our house, just call her and she’d meet us there instead.
I’m hypoglycemic, and so wanted to be sure to tank up before we got to the hospital, but had no desire to go through the drive through with contractions. So I made some scrambled eggs and scarfed them. As I finished getting ready (shaving is not enjoyable with cold water, eek!), I found myself bending over any available sturdy surface as a contraction hit. Thomas would hear me moan/grunt/groan and come running. We found a good combination–I bent over the sink, or chair, or table–whatever I was near–and he applied counterpressure, sometimes on my lower back, sometimes my hips–whatever I yelled at him that needed it. This continued until I had about 15 minutes left before I could call my dr. I was suddenly ravenous again. So I made a bowl of oatmeal, maple syrup to top it off, and chowed down. Between all the contractions, it took me quite awhile to accomplish this, so I only got about half the bowl eaten before I called my dr.
So I reached my doctor by 4:40 a.m. He was mad I hadn’t called when my water had broken… but oh, well, that ship had sailed, and I still wasn’t convinced that that was what had really happened–it sure didn’t seem like a garden hose had gone off, like so many people said it would. He told me to come in right away to be checked. So off we went. I poured my oatmeal into a coffee cup and took it with me.
Once in the car, the contractions of course, just kept coming. I understood why people said that drive to the hospital is miserable–every bump, every jostle magnified, and being restrained by the seatbelt meant I couldn’t wriggle the way I needed to when I was hurting. Thomas had thoughtfully grabbed some tennis balls from the garage and put in one of his socks–I stuck this behind my lower back as I began having a contraction, and it was a good substitute for the counter pressure I was missing.
I also cranked my iPod whenever one hit. Being a music therapist, I had created a few playlists for the labor and delivery. The most obvious one was titled “Intense” and included any music I loved that was loud, rough, solid, and (generally) fast. Music I could scream to pretty easily. :-) The next, and the one that was most used during labor and afterwards (still using it, actually) was titled “Upbeat” and included music I loved that was moderate tempo, playful, happy, poppy music. The final one was titled “Chill” and included music I loved that was slower, more relaxed, and gentle. I was listening to Intense in the car, and would crank it to the max when a contraction hit. It completely surrounded me and it was easy to focus on the song and just let my body do what it needed to then.
In between contractions, I called my in-laws and parents to let them know we were on our way to the hospital. It was about 5 a.m. by this point. We make it to the hospital… Thomas dropped me off at the ER, which is directly below the labor and delivery unit, while he parked the car. I had one contraction completely solo in the entryway as I waited for him… And while I had been worried that might happen, and how embarassing if someone walked by–I really didn’t care when it did hit. LOL He runs up, we load our stuff into the elevator, and hit the call button (you have to speak to the charge nurse to tell them why you’re coming before they let you up to the floor). There is also a camera in the elevator. Another contraction hit once I was on the elevator, so I was bent over using the rail in the back of the elevator when they answered at the nurse’s station–and for some reason, they just buzzed us straight up without asking any questions. :-)
Once we arrived on the floor, we saw our doula waiting for us. I was all smiles and very excited by this point, although the contractions were definitely painful now. I had to sign in. Really? Now? I was having a little difficulty thinking straight. The time in between contractions had really seemed to shrink, already. I had another contraction while leaning over the sign-in desk (see people, this is what happens when you make a laboring woman sign in), but after it subsided, I scribbled my name and we were moved to our room.
Once in the room, I changed into the clothes I wanted to labor in. The nurses weren’t so sure of that–surely I would rather have a hospital gown–but no, this was a $6 clearance dress from Target and a sports bra from college (oh my, over a decade ago…). It was really going to be okay that I wouldn’t get these back. And a sleeveless t-shirt dress was MUCH more comfortable than a gown with the funky snaps and ties in awkward places and sleeves that were always too big. Now, as I had contractions I had another set of hands to help–and while I was worried it would be awkward or I wouldn’t want anyone but T to touch me, I found, once again, I really didn’t care once one hit. I just needed someone or something to push against my hips or back, or both sometimes. I hollered, and someone did, and it worked.
I thought I would want the birth ball, but I tried it and it was really uncomfortable–it actually made the pelvic pressure worse. I continued bending over things and that was the most comfortable for me. Meanwhile, we waited for me to be checked by a nurse. My doula told me later she was afraid they would send me home, and here I was, changing clothes, having Thomas set up the iPod dock, unpacking… I knew I was 100% effaced–I had been for some time. And I was at least 1 cm dilated for a few weeks… I was fully expecting to be at least 4 cm dilated–which was sort of the cut off for them admitting me. They finally checked me and we were told… I was at dilated to 7 cm. You have to be dilated to 10 cm to actually push and deliver the baby. Labor goes at its own, generally slow, pace until you hit 7 cm, and then the space from 7-10 is… nothin. Happens QUICK at this point.
I realized, in my painful fog as I bent over the bed that this meant things were definitely happening quickly, and that, perhaps an epidural would be nice. The pain was awful, and no longer felt manageable like it had at the house. But I also knew that maybe my chance was gone. I began asking for one. I was told I would need 2 bags of saline IV fluid first. I kept asking, and kept getting the same answer. I finally got Thomas bent over the bed looking in my eyes during a contraction–and cornered him as soon as it was over–if I needed the fluid, why weren’t they starting it??
Answer? They weren’t because there wouldn’t be time. No epidural for me.
OK then. Why couldn’t someone tell me that sooner? It changed my mindset–I was no longer focused on escaping the pain, because that couldn’t happen–and I think it really helped me to know that it wasn’t possible. It was just no longer an option, and it helped me clear my head and focus on the task at hand. Here we go. We’re having our baby!!!