I’ve decided against writing this as a password-protected post. However, names and photos will be removed after 48 hours. If you plan to steal said photos for your own purposes, nefarious or otherwise, please don’t.
9:36 pm, Wednesday night. Two and a half hours after arriving at labor and delivery to be monitored prior to an induction that was to be scheduled the following day.
As soon as I sat up in bed, I had a contraction. When it was over, I wheeled my IV pole to the bathroom, where I had another contraction. As soon as I got up off the toilet, another. I had to squat through this one. I got myself back to the bed, but before I could sit down, another contraction.
The nurse came back. “I just had four contractions while you were gone,” I informed her. She didn’t seem impressed.
“When is the resident coming?” Hubby asked on my behalf.
“She should be here in about 10 or 15 minutes.”
I climbed back into bed, relieved to finally have someone on the way to take another look at the monitor and perhaps decide I was progressing just fine on my own. To my amazement, the contractions didn’t slow down. They were getting closer together and were literally off the charts. The peaks didn’t even show up on the monitor, cut off by the band of ticks marking baby girl’s movement.
This is not how my labor was supposed to go. This went against everything I had read, everything I had been told to expect. Where was my hour of 5-minute-apart contractions? Where was the zen-like love cocktail of oxytocin I was supposed to experience between contractions? There was no between contractions anymore. As soon as one began to ebb, the tidal wave of the next began to roll in right on top of it.
I was miserable. I was in pain. I moaned. I screamed. Hubby offered me his hand to squeeze. I squeezed.
Everything I had done to prepare for this moment was gone. I felt possessed. There was only the pain, over and over again. There was no break. There was no catching my breath.
Finally, the resident arrived. I was dilated to 7. Did I want an epidural? Now would be the time to decide.
I hadn’t wanted it. But I hadn’t expected to have one contraction on top of another. After a few more, I pushed the call button. In the midst of a contraction, I wasn’t able to convey anything but my pain. Hubby spoke up. “She needs help.”
When the resident came back, I was able to pant the words, “I want the epidural.”
The nurse came quickly, asking if I wanted Hubby in the room while I got the epidural. “Yes!” She instructed me to sit on the edge of the bed, but I couldn’t. I was still strapped to the monitor, still lying flat on my back. But with the next contraction, I had to move. I managed to sit up. I screamed through the contraction. For the next one, I found myself on the floor, kneeling over the side of the bed. I remember thinking, This must be transition. This has to be as bad as it will get.
By the time I was able to sit on the edge of the bed, leaning into Hubby, it was almost too late. I barely felt the poke of the needle, and then, simultaneously, there was a rush of fluid and the urge to push. “My water broke.”
“No,” the nurse insisted. “Not yet.”
“It just broke. I have to push.”
“Don’t push. Don’t push.”
“I can’t help it. She’s coming.” Another contraction, more fluid, again the urge to push.
The anesthesiologist pulled the needle out. I would find out later he had injected something for the pain, but it didn’t matter. It was too late. I had to push.
Suddenly the room was full of people. Nurses, the resident, the anesthesiologist, a med student, and the doctor who would deliver my baby. I had had my eyes closed to the pain, but there was a nurse next to me who kept insisting I look at her. She instructed me to move toward the end of the bed. I arched my back and hit my head on the head of the bed. “Look at me,” she insisted again. I inched my way down. It was finally time to push.
I pushed in threes, gritting my teeth, bearing down. Hubby stood by my side, helping to hold my leg, telling me I was doing well. Time had lost all meaning, but I didn’t push for long. The doctor between my legs said, “I’m going to cut you.” There was no use protesting. Baby girl was coming fast.
A few more pushes and the doctor was saying she could see baby girl’s head. Hubby looked down just in time to see our baby’s head crown. Another push and she was emerging into the room, into the world. I could feel her head. Hubby could see her head. One more push and I felt her body slide out of me. At 10:33 pm, she was laid on my belly, slippery and screaming.
She was here.