For Part One, click here.
Riding in the car with Jeff is always a treat for me, especially when no one else is with us so we can talk freely without interruptions, so this ride to the hospital was enjoyable for that reason, as well as the over-arching reason we were up in the wee hours of a Sunday morning, driving on nearly deserted streets to the other side of town! We didn't just talk about the upcoming birth; instead, we spent part of the drive discussing our children and Jeff's work and who knows what else. It was a delight to have that quiet time to converse, and talking about topics other than labor helped to keep my mind off what was happening in my body and what was to come!
I did have at least two fairly strong contractions during the drive, as well as one after we got into the parking lot. It's entirely possible that I was having one when Jeff snapped this picture of me right before we got out of the van to walk into the hospital. It's a horrible picture...
As we got out of the van, I did NOT want to have to carry anything--dealing with my own body was quite enough for that moment--so I asked Jeff if he could carry my backpack, his own bag, and my laptop; and of course, he could and did without complaint. It wasn't that far of a walk from our van to the hospital entrance, but I was dealing with contractions and had to walk slowly, even pausing at one point to grip a metal railing that overlooked a pretty garden area that I had not even realized was part of the hospital grounds. When I remarked on this to Jeff, he told me he had noticed that area when I was in the hospital for Moriah's birth, nearly three and a half years ago.
Also as we walked, the subject of an epidural came up; and Jeff said something like, "We haven't even talked about this yet!" I let him know that if I were checked and found to be not very far dilated, I was interested in getting an epidural (the contractions I was having at this point were already quite intense); but if I were close to the end, then I wouldn't get one. My whole birth "plan" (if one can attach the label "plan" to a scheme that is hatched in the parking lot as one walks into the hospital) revolved around how far dilated I was, and I awaited that knowledge eagerly.
The emergency room area that we entered through was quiet and nearly empty, and the receptionist pointed us to a registration room a little further down the hallway. I s-l-o-w-l-y walked to it and eased myself down into a chair to answer a few questions and sign a paper or two to complete the registration process I had begun during an earlier visit to the hospital. It didn't take very long, and our official check-in time was 1:45 a.m.
After that, I could have walked up to labor and delivery, but instead gratefully accepted the offer of a ride in a wheelchair. Normally, I do like to walk as much as I can before I give birth; but I knew how incredibly slow my pace had been, and I couldn't fathom how I would manage to walk all the way to the maternity area. As it turned out, it was a good thing I got this ride and was able to reach my room fairly quickly. :)
One thing I forgot to say before is that, as the contractions became stronger, I had to mentally fight against nervousness and fear. I was handling these contractions fine, but how would I ever handle the hardest ones to come? Even when I was lying in bed at home, the fear hovered on the horizon of my mind; and one of the ways I combated it was to keep my mind focused on one moment at a time. I could ride through each wave and make it to the other side successfully, and THAT'S ALL I NEEDED TO DO. I didn't need to even think about what the future waves would be like, but simply take each minute, each second as it came. This was one of the strategies that was particularly helpful to me during this labor and delivery.
I was wheeled into a quiet, peaceful labor and delivery area and was greeted by a nurse who reminded me so much of my friend Mel Driver--who happens to be a labor and delivery nurse at our hospital, but I've never managed to have my babies when she was working! This time again, I missed her; but the nurse who took me into the birthing room surely reminded me of Mel with her kind, friendly face and disposition.
As she wheeled me into the room, I glanced a few doors down and saw the room where I gave birth to Moriah and mentally noted that I wouldn't be giving birth in the same room to this baby. Not that it mattered... :)
We got into the room and I...insert fuzzy blurry thoughts here...met Becky, a pretty, blond-haired, young, cheerful nurse who would take care of me during labor...gave a urine sample and was having strong contractions during that time...changed into a hospital gown...was checked to see if it was truly amniotic fluid that had leaked (it didn't seem to take more than about half a second for Becky, who was doing the test, to see that it was; and that probably stood out to me because when I gave birth to Moriah, the first test for amniotic fluid was negative, but the second, more involved one was positive)...was strapped up to the monitors to check on the baby and monitor contractions...had my blood pressure checked, which was a little high, but not too worrisome...was stuck with a needle for an IV, and amazingly the nurse got it on the first try (I'm notoriously difficult to stick, and Jeff even warned the nurse that others have had trouble with me, so if she couldn't get it, she wouldn't feel bad). I'm not sure of the order of all those events, but sometime soon after we got to our room, those things all happened!
I wasn't particularly comfortable during this time. Can you tell? ;-)
I also remember that Jeff was telling people that I often gave birth while standing up. I didn't know he was going to do that, but that was the way I had envisioned this delivery going as well, so it was a good thing he was preparing them for that. Turned out be an unnecessary warning, but we didn't know that then. ;-)
Becky was asking me the questions that have to be asked and was inputting my answers in the computer. I, meanwhile, was uncomfortable enough that I wanted a change of position or something, but was told that I needed to be on the monitor for one more minute so they could get a full 20-minute reading before I was unhooked. I think the thought raced through my head that 19 minutes was good enough and who cared about their silly 20-minute rule, but I didn't say anything. ;-)
AlexAnn, the midwife, arrived and had a very sweet, kind, relaxed presence about her. Without any rush or stress, she examined me and declared that I was 8 centimeters dilated! Well, 8 was great, and a lot better than 3 or 4; but it wasn't 10, and labor wasn't over. We were quickly discussing options for what to do next to control my pain, and I asked how long it would be until I could get an epidural. When AlexAnn told me I would need to get an IV first before an epidural and that would take AN HOUR, I knew that option was closed to me and was inwardly kicking myself for not checking into the hospital when I felt the first contractions much earlier that evening. "I could have had an epidural and skipped through labor with nary a twinge, but I stupidly missed my chance" was my slightly irrational thinking at the time! ;-)
Another option that was discussed was some kind of pain medicine that could be given to me by IV, and at that point I was desperate enough to take anyone up on any kind of relief they could give me. But then AlexAnn suggested that I get in the jacuzzi tub; and I, loving to be in the water when I labor, agreed to that, so she went to draw the water for me, which I thought was kind of funny because I expected a nurse to do it (the nurse who was still asking me questions and writing down my responses, I suppose). Not that I cared who did it, but I did notice that it was AlexAnn who performed that lowly task. She soon came over and told me it was ready, and I very gratefully moved to the bathroom, disrobed, and sank into the water.
I was hoping to gain some relief that way. Little did I suspect what I would really be given! :)
For Part Three, click here.