See Part I here.
Note: There are lady parts and bodily fluids in this post. If that bothers you, I recommend reading something else 😉
It was hard to sleep that Tuesday night, but I managed to get to bed early and have a decent night’s sleep. Brett got most of the things we would need to take to the hospital in the car before we went to bed. On Wednesday morning, I made sure to eat a good breakfast because I knew that they weren’t going to allow me to eat at the hospital.
We checked in at 5:33 a.m. They ushered us right into our room, a large labor and delivery room. I was given a gown and fabulous fuzzy socks to change into. Brett took a photo of the room and posted it to Facebook, saying that we would be spending the next few hours there. Brett and I prayed Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours while we waited for a nurse to come and begin the next step.
The nurse came in and had to give me an exam. I thought the exam was uncomfortable, but it was nothing compared to how the exams would feel as labor progressed. My cervix was still dilated to about 2 centimeters. Actually, the nurse said it was more like “one and a wiggle,” but still nice and soft and thin. By 7:00, I had had this exam, an IV port started, the Pitocin and fluids hooked up to the IV, and three external monitors strapped to my belly (one for contractions, one for Baby A, and one for Baby B). I was allowed to be unhooked from the monitors from time to time to use the bathroom, walk around the room, or try to find a comfortable position. The nurse showed Brett how to unhook me and how to drape the cords around me.
I had requested the ability to move around, but I was comfortable in bed most of the time. I spent the morning relaxing against the not-too-intense contractions the Pitocin was causing and watching the pitiful daytime television I had gotten used to when I was on modified rest before the babies came. When my doctor came in, I was still dilated about 2 cm. Well, that was disappointing, but no use getting upset about it. He broke Baby A’s bag of waters during The Price is Right (probably around 11:45). It didn’t hurt, thankfully, but I was grossed out by the feeling of that hot amniotic fluid gushing out. He was optimistic that I would begin to dilate more after the sac was broken. He placed an internal monitor on Baby A. I hadn’t wanted to have internal monitoring, but I relished not having so many belts around my waist.
The contractions began to intensify. I still didn’t feel like getting out of bed, but I was hungry, so I had some Popsicles throughout the afternoon, beginning during the noon news. At some point in the early afternoon, I realized I was going to have to get up to use the restroom. I was feeling kind of woozy from hunger and worry, so I asked Brett and the nurse to help me get up. This is when the gross-out really began. The huge rush of hot amniotic fluid fooled me. I said, “Ew, oh no, I don’t think I have to go to the bathroom after all,” thinking it was too late. But the nurse knew better, and she got me into the restroom and got the floor cleaned up. Through all of this, Brett never acted worried or disgusted. I was so glad of that because I think if he had been that way, I would have lost it.
We spent the afternoon learning how to watch the monitor for contractions and by what should have been dinner time, Brett was able to warn me before one would begin. Our friend Jeanne-Marie had seen Brett’s Facebook post about where we were and came to visit us on her break. She is a nurse in the mother-baby floor of the hospital where we had the babies. She was surprised to see the photo because she thought we were going to the other hospital where my doctor delivers (so did I until about 2 weeks before the birth). Jeanne-Marie sent Brett to get something to eat so he’d have his strength up, and she hung around with me until he got back. We were very thankful because he didn’t want to leave me alone and would have been fasting with me if she hadn’t come.
In the late afternoon, my nurse examined me again. I had dilated to 4 centimeters. I was happy to hear that. I figured things were going to start happening, and fast. Brett and I played cribbage to pass the time, as the contractions started to get stronger and stronger. I would have to lay down my hand in order to relax through each contraction. This is when it was nice that Brett was watching the monitor and warning me of impending contractions. We had some trouble with the baby monitors, namely, Baby B kept moving so that the monitor couldn’t detect her. We knew she was a she… even though we hadn’t told many people.
In the early evening, I had another exam. Each exam was more painful than the one before. The nurse had tiny hands, which seems like it would be more comfortable, but actually meant she had to use more pressure to get her short fingers to my cervix. I was still dilated to about 4 centimeters. That was disappointing but okay. The contractions were getting more intense, so I figured I would dilate more soon. She examined me again before shift change, and I hadn’t dilated any more! I was so disappointed, I was crying, and I was starving! The nurse was so compassionate and snuck me the best crackers I have ever eaten in my life. I wasn’t supposed to be allowed to eat, and I normally wouldn’t touch unsalted Saltines, but the crackers were a lifesaver for me.
I hadn’t expected to have to meet the night nurse, but shift change was at 7:00 p.m., and I was still in labor. She examined me early on in her shift (ouch!) and I was still at about 4 centimeters. I tried not to cry, but I was starting to think that the induction would fail. My doctor visited before he left the hospital for the evening, confident that he would be returning soon. I cried again after my next painful exam, not having dilated anymore. The nurse called Dr. P. and he suggested I get an epidural.
I resisted. I didn’t want an epidural. We learned in Bradley Method childbirth classes that an epidural can stall labor, and can make babies dopey and less able to breastfeed early on. I also felt like I had something to prove, and that since women had been giving birth without pain medication for centuries, I should be able to do it too. The nurse tried to help me cope with the intensifying pain by having me bounce on an exercise ball. I didn’t like that, I felt too wobbly, like I might fall. She had me rock in a rocking chair, and that was a little better, but I was getting to the point that I just didn’t feel like I could do anything. I was tired, hungry, and a little angry.
I moved back to bed and started talking to Brett about the epidural. He reminded me why we didn’t want one. He was adamant, but every contraction felt like someone was pulling my innards out. I felt pressure, burning, and nausea. I couldn’t talk. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. All I could do was shake my hands. Even now as I write about it, I can feel a reminder of the pain.
When the nurse examined me around 10:00 p.m. and I still hadn’t dilated any more, I was done. I changed my mind about wanting a baby. I wanted to turn back time to the days before we decided to begin fertility medication and trying to conceive. I no longer believed that I was able to give birth. I felt that Brett was trying to control me. In reality, he was calm and supportive. He kept on reminding me that the pain had a purpose, and that it would not last much longer. He thought I was at transition for a very long time because of my attitude. I couldn’t stop crying and each contraction seemed to remove my mental faculties until it was over. I finally convinced Brett that I should have the epidural that Dr. P. was strongly suggesting over the phone.
We had to wait a little while for the anesthesiologist, and when she came, she sort of rubbed me the wrong way. She had a bit of a brusque personality. She didn’t seem to think that I should have any reason to avoid an epidural. I convinced her to give me the minimum dosage and even decrease that when it came time to push, although she didn’t seem to think it was a good idea. I wanted to feel the birth, even if it wasn’t going to be painful. Sometime between 11:00 and midnight, she placed the epidural. The medication began to work quickly, and soon I decided to take a nap.
What happened after my nap? Stay tuned and find out!