It was 6:43 and I could hear Lincoln and my mother eating breakfast in the kitchen. He would be eating with a fork and spoon before she left next month.
At 6:48 there was another one, and so I dismissed the contractions entirely. They couldn’t be real ones if they were this close together at the beginning — more Braxton icks and another day of waiting.
I waddled out to breakfast and poured myself some granola, not bothering to mention the contractions. At four days past my due date, I’d felt like the boy who cried wolf for a week now.
There were more during breakfast, and it was more comfortable to eat on my exercise ball than on a chair. They were getting stronger, quite uncomfortable now. I thought back to all the stories of friends who labored for hours at home, packing hospital bags between contractions or trying to catch some sleep. So, I hopped in the shower, with grand plans to blow dry my hair, double check my bag, and make sure everything was ready. I called Ben, who was just getting to work at this point, to put him on alert.
I called the hospital when I got out of the shower, confused at the growing intensity of these regular contractions. When did I need to go in again? When they’re too painful to talk through, right? Well, the nurse on the OB floor told me, “We can’t give you any medical advice” and told me to call my doctor. The place where I’m going to deliver my baby can’t give me any medical advice? The contraction that hit in the middle of the call was so intense that I just hung up on her.. It was seven minutes to eight at this point so I needed to call the after hours line. My doctor said it was a good idea to head to the hospital, but OK’d waiting until Ben drove the 35 minutes home to pick me up. Worst part of my plan.
In those 35 minutes I managed to get my wet hair up and some clothes on (although I had a zip up jacket over a sports bra because somehow I couldn’t handle a shirt?). I also managed not to yell at Lincoln who thought I was bouncing on the exercise ball for fun and wanted to join me. I’m pretty sure I did yell at Ben while loading my car with hospital bags (and he was still at good 15 minutes away at this point and couldn’t hear me). I almost just got in the car and drove myself.
The car was set and the garage door open when Ben pulled in and I gave him twenty seconds to grab whatever he needed. I also encouraged the running of red lights, screamed through sharp turns, and almost broke his fingers with my grip on the ten minute drive to the hospital.
I was the crazy lady squatting and holding the walls of the hospital on our way up to the OB floor but my doctor must have called because when I walked in they were expecting me. A kind nurse showed me to my room (which was down a long hall that required at least one contraction break). Once in the room, I sat for an exam and blood draw so they could run labs and get my antibiotics started right away. I was dilated to a seven and I’m sure the first thing out of my mouth once in that room was if I could have an epidural as soon as possible. I also have a vague recollection of asking the nurse to run when she said she was going to check on my labs (which they needed before they could give me the blessed epidural).
Through all this my contractions were getting stronger and closer and I was getting increasingly bipolar. During the contractions I was short, rude, and intollerant of just about anything. Once the contraction stopped I would apologize, make small talk, and go back to smiling. At one point a nurse was trying to put some band around my belly (in the middle of a contraction). I tried pushing her off when she explained she needed to find the baby’s heart beat. I responded with some variation of, “Women have been giving birth on their own for thousands of years! The baby is just trying to get out.” I promptly apologized when the pain had subsided.
Ben was on my right and luckily survived the day without any broken fingers.
In my preparation for an unmedicated birth (which I didn’t have) with Lincoln, I had practiced visualization and relaxtion techniques to cope with contractions. This time around I hadn’t given them much thought, but about half an hour into my time at the hospital I started using them. The difference was disctinct. The pain was still there, but I felt quite a bit more in control. I worked on relaxing my body through a contraction and would labor through each, biting a wash cloth, while listening to Ben count slowly until it was over. There were no more screams, or tears, or cries of desperation, but I was still anxiously awaiting that epidural.
The worst part of my morning walked in about 20 minutes later, after my IV of fluids and antibiotics had been started and the contractions were worse. The first thing I remember were his warnings, which sounded like taunts, that epidurals only worked 80% of the time. It was possible it wouldn’t work at all for me. And then there was the threat that if I kept progressing this fast he wouldn’t be able to give me an epidural (as if I had control over that). Finally he sat down on the couch to begin the paperwork (a process that should be changed – labor is the worst time to fill out paperwork).
The epdiural man’s first comment after sitting down was to the nurses, asking that I be covered up (I’m laboring in a sports bra at this point and sweating). The kind nurse explained I’d declined the blankets because I was uncomfortable and warm. His response? A terse, “I insist.” The pregnant lady almost lost it. He insists? HE insists? The man sitting there in no pain, whose DAILY JOB it is to administer epdirauls to women in labor? He insists on a blanket? I had many words for him, but I couldn’t talk in the height of a contraction, and then I remembered he was the one with the power. He was the one deciding whether or not I could have an epidural, and as frustrating as he may be, I needed to at least be civil, just in case that effected my chances (sound logic, I know – but I was a little out of it). Finally after a brief argument I interrupted to tell Ben to stand between us with a sheet — but that under no circumstances was anyone to put anything on top of me. *