(Oh, it’s best you read part one before moving along here…)
Once we arrived in our labor and delivery room, I was told I’d have 30 minutes to be free of monitors so I could walk around, hang out, do whatever. (Note: the best thing about intermittent monitoring is that it is my only concept of time…. it’s the only way I can piece parts back together). We quickly settled in and searched for a phone charger. Nothing. Both of our phones were now under 20% battery life and I was, honestly, more concerned that we would run out of batteries than my labor. I had Alex text my brother and my dad and tell them both to come first thing in the morning with a charger so we would have freshly charged phones once baby arrived. Then, I made Alex turn our phones off.
So we started walking the halls with my IV strolling alongside me. It was so quiet. I couldn’t figure it out. How are babies being born all around me but I couldn’t hear a sound? Shocking, huh? While we were walking I felt a few contractions, but nothing I couldn’t make it through. To be honest, walking was boring. I was happy when it was time to head back to the room to be monitored again.
By now it was a little after 1:00 and I was back in the bed with all of those contraptions attached to me. My first penicillin bag hadn’t finished yet and the nurse noticed it was barely dripping. When she opened it to drip faster, let me tell you, it burned. Oh man. So during the next thirty minutes of monitoring, Alex and I were able to carry a conversation in between the contractions. He could tell when one was coming and we’d just be quiet while I breathed through them. They were getting pretty painful at this point. Sort of like period cramps, but worse. Anyway, I still found them relatively manageable in the grand scheme of labor.
After I was relieved of the monitors, I was also unhooked from my IV bags because that penicillin drip was finally done. We went to walk the halls again because, well, what else do you do at 1:45 a.m. in a labor and delivery ward? This time, however, the contractions weren’t as easy to muddle through. They were coming every minute and I would stop, push against the wall, and squeeze Alex’s hand. I kept rushing past any sign of nurses or visitors to hide around a corner to go through the next contraction. Hidden, I would sway back and forth and try my best not to moan out load. The most terrifying feeling became not the contraction, but the beginning of the contraction, because you knew what was ahead but you couldn’t stop it. We walked one loop of the ward and I rushed back into the room as another contraction started. Alex said we were gone maybe five minutes.
Back in the room, I asked Alex to hold a cold washcloth on my pelvis right where the contractions were. That worked for a little bit. Then, I had him rub my back. The first contraction I wanted it up and down my spine, the next contraction I wanted it the exact opposite way. It was ridiculous how everything worked for about 30 seconds, and then I’d need something else. Eventually I ended up bracing myself in the bathroom doorway. Poor Alex just stood and watched as I rocked myself back and forth in the threshold. I remember looking in the mirror and realizing just how quickly I’d become exhausted.
Sometime later (I guess half an hour after I started my last walk), the nurse came back to hook me up again for monitoring. I had her give me a birthing ball and she hooked me up while I rocked on the ball next to my bed. Bouncing, rocking, swaying…. everything worked a little bit better on the birthing ball. We kept looking over at the monitors at my contractions. They weren’t giving me a break. They were starting to plateau and nothing was helping.
When the nurse came back to take off my monitors, I went straight for the bathroom. I had to go pee, and then I was thinking I would shower. Why not, right? Well, there was fresh blood when I went to the bathroom so I made Alex call the nurse right back because there’s nothing like fresh blood to terrify a mom in labor. As he was getting off the phone with her, I started vomiting. I wasn’t nauseous at all. I was just projectile vomiting over and over and over again. All over the bathroom.
The nurse came back and said, “Why didn’t you tell me you were nauseous?” to which I replied, “Because I wasn’t.” Well, she made me get in bed and hooked me back up to the IV for some fluids since I’d vomited everywhere. I was also practically naked at this point and asking for the room to be cooler (it was already as cold as it would go). You see, it turns out you abandon any modesty you may have when you go into labor. Things had gone from bad to very bad in a matter of maybe ten/ fifteen minutes.
So there I was on my IV in the bed again and to be honest, there wasn’t much more I was up for at that point. The walking, the birthing ball, the swaying back and forth… nothing mattered anymore. My pain management was literally bracing myself against those plastic arms on the side of the bed and hoping they wouldn’t break (because then what would I push against?). Poor Alex just watched me and I just stared into space.
That’s the thing. I got to a point where screaming, moaning, crying… the pain level is past that. You are just there in a mountain of pain, just there working through to the other side.
Dr. Keith came back to check on me. “The contractions got stronger, huh?” And then she checked my cervix. About four centimeters.
She had got to be kidding me. I felt completely deflated. At midnight I was three centimeters and now, three hours later, I was only one more? I was doomed to have a cesarean… there was no way I was making it to 10 centimeters by that evening.
I asked if baby was doing okay. I asked if I was doing okay. Calm, quiet answers. “Your body is doing exactly what it needs to and your baby is doing exactly what he needs to. You two are doing great.” No, my body needed to hurry the %$3!@% up and cough out a baby.
My lovely, kind, gentle doctor exited the room again and left me on that bed where the “break” I was getting in between contractions was literally seconds every few minutes. It was like five to seven minutes of hell followed by ten seconds of rest. Over and over again. And I was barely even halfway there.
More next time. (This story has three parts, we’re really close to the end, I promise.)