So, as I said, we started December 29th by walking the 3rd floor of the hospital. Each trip would take us past the NICU and I remember talking with Partner about the NICU. When we came into the hospital, they told us they put the NICU "on alert" since he was early. There was an isolette in the hallway on the labor and delivery wing and it freaked me out. Freaked me out, mind you, but I felt it was a remote possibility. After all, the week before at the midwife appointment I was told that if I went into labor, no one would try and stop it. I even inquired about steriods when we were admitted and was told it was probably unnecessary. (In retrospect, I realize they probably didn't give me steriods because the bag was broken and there was concern about infection. Steroids, if you don't know, increases your risk of infection. Also, one of the most common reasons for early rupture is infection itself, which is why I had to have my temperature taken every hour.)
Anyhow, back to the hospital: walking the hallway of the hospital at 5:30 is not fun. Especially when you feel it isn't doing anything to progress your labor. Also, it's quiet. Eerily so, and let's just say, the nighttime, if I'm feeling at all vulnerable, is impetus for me to feel worse. I just wanted to sleep more.
We went back to the room and I remember looking wistfully at the bathtub. I hadn't taken a shower the day before, something that is incredibly rare for me. I was feeling gross. I wanted to get into the bath, but one of the midwives cautioned me that getting in the bath too early might slow my already slow labor down. And sometime in the middle of the night, my contractions stopped entirely. Besides, I didn't really want a bath-- I just wanted to wash my hair. Rinse off my body. My plan had been to take a good hot shower before I went to bed at my parents house-- Like so many other plans, it was foiled. And when we were in triage, I specifically requested the jacuzzi bath room, thinking I would get to labor in the water, something I really had envisioned myself doing. I held on to the image of the bath and wanted to keep it for when things really got bad. Nonetheless, I still was feeling grimy and loved the thought of a wash, but we had no shampoo/conditioner/soap.
At 7:30 am, the midwife we had the most rapport with came on. She had us up and down the hallways walking, trying to bring on labor. No leisurely walking either-- Really walking
. After a bit she came in and suggested we might try Cytotec, a drug to "ripen" my cervix. She'd slip it in under my cervix and the idea was it would help me dilate. We could try it three times, but hopefully we all agreed, we'd only have to do it once. It was the first of our hard decisions. We labored over the decision: remember our aim was to have this kid as naturally as possible. But then again, we also wanted to have
the kid, so we agreed.
I threw up several times in the morning, not because of labor, but because I was starved. Once you get into the hospital, there's no more eating. I had popsicles, chicken broth, jello, water, Gatorade, ice chips, but nothing more of sustanance. I was starved and threw up bile. After eating yellow jello, I promptly threw that up too.
Friday I'd say we mostly slept and walked. I had to get a dose of antibiotics every four hours. My parents came that afternoon. The Cytotec was not working. And so the dreaded Pitosin was brought forth as an option. This was not something we wanted, but since nothing was progressing and I was having no contractions at all, we decided after lamenting about it, to go ahead with the Pit. But we declined the intra-uterine catheter-- This would measure the strength of my contractions only, not attach to the Cricket's head. I didn't like that it was going to keep me tethered. Again, this was something Partner and I talked and talked about-- We were heading down a path we didn't want to be on. At the same time, I realized that I was not getting anywhere fast. The water was broken, the Cytotec didn't do a damn thing, and the small contractions I was having had stopped entirely. So another small part of our birth plan was chipped away...
(Before this, I did get the wash-- a sponge bath-- with my own soap and shampoo and conditioner that my friend M brought to the hospital for us, along with other sundries. We had her raid our house with a list. I would have been hard pressed to find some of the things she found and brought to us. Thank God I got that clean when I did.)
When the Pit was brought in, I was aghast at the size of the bag, but the nurse told me that I probably wouldn't get through the whole bag, so not to worry. I have to tell you, the Pit was almost a relief-- Finally, a contraction! It felt like we were going places. At the start of the Pit-drip, I was dilated to a 2-- about 70% effaced. All afternoon we kept upping the dose and I felt those contractions getting more and more intense. We just had to be moving forward. I think I threw up one more time in here, after trying the yellow jello again. That was the end of that. I can't remember when Partner left to get something to eat, but I do remember that we finally convinced her that she needed to take care of herself too.
The labor and delivery room was very comfortable-- not so much my bed, but the atmosphere. We could dim the lights, we had a cd player, we put the iPod on with my "relax mix" for labor, there was a recliner lounger, the "couch" pulled out into a twin bed for Partner to sleep on. There was a rocking chair, a birthing ball (or egg), and aromatherapy, and of course, the prospect of the bath.
As the day went forward, I started to fret that "our" midwife would be off at 7:30 pm, but when I expressed this concern to her, she reassured me: She was on a 4 day call. She'd be with us until the end. I also worried with each shift change of nurses. Each shift, I'd be worried about the new nurse, and then I'd end up liking her so much, I'd start to worry again at the shift change. It was a stupid worry: Every single nurse we had was fantastic.
I'm already forgetting details! But I do know that as the night wore on, my contractions were feeling much more intense and lasting longer. No one had mentioned the intra-uterine catheter again, and there was some small talk about epidurals, but I felt no pressure. I'd say that the contractions were about every three minutes again, and lasted two to three minutes. This sounds really great, eh? I was checked again, and sure that I had made dazzling progress, I remember trying not to feel dismayed that I was only dilated to a three. The midwife and nurse cheered me on: it was some progress! It was okay! Just keep going!
I envisioned all the images I had conjured up before labor: A flower opening, a wave building, the way the land rises up before slicing out to sea on the Slea Head in Ireland, the wind blowing my hair away from my face as I rode a bike down a hill outside of Dingell town. It all relaxed me and helped me though contractions, but none of it helped me progress. Around midnight that night, as I sat on the toilet, and Partner held my hand, the midwife explained that she thought I should have the epidural and intra-uterine catheter. Partner and I felt very alone-- We knew were getting pressure, and we knew we didn't want the epidural. Yet as our midwife pointed out, I had been in labor for more than 24 hours at this point, and if things went according the textbook, I would dilate a centimeter an hour, which would be seven hours, and then I'd have to push for two hours. I was exhausted, and we had at the very least nine hours to go. We both
needed rest before the hard part came.
Before this I had been on the birthing ball, or in the reclining chair and falling asleep between contactions. Thinking about sleep was the most compelling argument. The pain? Well, yes, but mostly the sleep option sounded good.
We asked her to leave us alone for ten minutes, and we cried. We cried, cried, cried. This was nothing like we wanted. Partner felt she couldn't protect me from the type of birth I didn't want, and I was just tired. I remember saying to her I was worried we were heading for a section. And in the end, we decided to trust our midwife's advice and I opted for the epidural, telling them they could only do the catheter after the epidural. Even though I was assured I wouldn't feel the catheter, I told them I thought that was bullshit: I felt the catheter well enough when we did the transfer.
I'm telling you, I was more scared of that giant needle going into my back than a vaginal birth, but the epidural happened. I think after the spinal I had a drop in pressure-- I can't remember the number, but I do remember someone saying, "Pressure's dropping" and then the number and I thought "Oh, shit" and grabbed the pillow our midwife had in front of me harder. I was given some adrenlin, and that worked its magic as quickly as the epidural. I felt full of bliss. I didn't remember that feeling pain free before labor had started... The intra-uterine cath was put in, and cath for urine, and I didn't feel a thing. I started to re-evaluate my opinions about epidurals.
In the middle of the night, my Pit drip ran out. They took me off for half an hour before starting me on my second bag. What was that the nurse had said earlier? Hardly anyone goes through a whole bag? Yet here I was starting my second...
And that's where we'll end Friday, December 29-- Since by this point, we were headed into the early morning hours of Saturday, December 30...