Birth Story Part 1
Birth Story Part 2
Half a centimeter. HALF. Not even ONE. 0.5cm. And I needed to get to 10cm. Half a centimeter.
Those words deflated me. John and Heather later remarked that I literally looked like I had been beaten when I heard those words... half a centimeter.
I felt shocked. Crazy thoughts were running through my head... How could I be only half a centimeter? All the signs pointed to my labor being much farther along than you would think at half a centimeter! I might as well go back home and come back when I was further along! There was no way they would let me get away with what I wanted if I was only half a centimeter! I was going to be so hungry by the time I had to push since they wouldn't let me eat. Maybe this meant my cervix was seriously broken and I was going to labor for many more hours before they decided that my poor, operated-on cervix just wasn't going to dilate and I had to have a c-section. Half a centimeter. Half.
My determination was gone, and I felt near despair. I laid on my side and hardly moved, just focusing on allowing each contraction to do it's job, wondering how long I could tolerate this. Half a centimeter seemed to indicate I was early in my labor... how much longer was there?
Heather, the doula, asked me a few times if I could change positions or get up and move. I refused each time. I felt tired. I felt a tiny bit afraid. And I felt really worried that I was going to end up with a c-section. Eventually Heather convinced me that I had to move. Just as I was going to get up, the nurse came in. What felt like only a few minutes to me had actually been about 2 hours. It was about 5pm and the RN was back to hook me up to the monitor for 20 minutes of fetal heart monitoring.
She hooked me up and monitored me, then set me loose. My first stop was the bathroom, and when I came back, I was apparently saying "Why, why, why?" over and over in a distressed sounding way. Now, in my head, what I was saying was "Why is this labor so intense if I am so early in the process?" But all that came out was "Why?" This was freaking Abigail out a bit, so she and Elaine stepped out of the room for a few minutes (I didn't realize this at the time. I was kind of in my own world. Where I spoke complete sentences.)
As I was debating what to do, the nurse came back in. Apparently she had reviewed the monitoring strip and had not found the appropriate fetal heart rate accelerations. The baby's heart rate was not dropping too low, it just wasn't speeding up between contractions the way that it should. She needed to hook me up to the monitor again, and I needed to lay still in bed.
Let me just say, sitting in bed is not the most comfortable thing when you are having labor with back pain. In fact, it's the opposite of comfortable. It's downright uncomfortable, and it makes the contractions much worse than they need to be. Laying on your side or hands-and-knees is much easier. But, because of the monitor, I had to sit in bed. On top of that, because she was not seeing what she wanted on the monitor, she was actually digging the probe into my belly. Now, just imagine someone pushing a hard probe into a big pregnant belly- that wouldn't feel good to begin with, right? Add to that the fact that she pushed hard during the actual contractions, and I was really experiencing the worst pain of my labor right there. To make it even more fun, she kept telling me to hold as still as I could, because my deep breaths were messing up her monitoring. It was miserable, and I almost felt like I could cry.
This went on for about 45 minutes.
Eventually, I had to go to the bathroom again, so she took the monitor off, promising to be back (yippee!). I went to the bathroom and came back to sit on the side of the bed. The nurse briefly tried to monitor me in that position, but by that time, I had had enough. I checked with John and Heather and we decided to just refuse the monitoring for now. The baby's heart rate wasn't dropping, so we felt confident the baby was fine. I just wasn't following the "expected" pattern. It was not worth more torture.
That's when the anesthesiologist came in... Wait, the anesthesiologist? Had I asked for pain medication or an epidural? Nope. He came in because "it was routine to discuss emergency anesthesia." As in, he had to tell me what they would do in the case of an emergency, since I didn't want an epidural. Fine. He started talking and I told him to stop because I was starting a contraction. He respectfully stopped and allowed me to work with my contraction, which, by this time was intense enough that I found myself verbalizing a low moan until the contraction peaked. When it was over, I looked back at him, told him he could continue, and repeated the last thing he had said to me to remind him where he was in his "schpeal." He looked amazed. My guess is that he didn't often see laboring women who were anything less than happy to see him, let alone those who were in the midst of a natural childbirth, able to concentrate and think as clearly as I was, and still refusing his services. This happened for a few contractions, and he eventually left.
It was about 6:20 now. I had to go to the bathroom (again!) so John walked with me. The fact that I was allowed to be alone in the bathroom reinforced to me that I was still early in my labor. When I was done, I tried to stand up and wash my hands, but as soon as I stood, I had an intense contraction. This happened a few times, and I eventually decided to just rest on the commode for a while. I sat backwards on the toilet (facing the wall) and leaned forward to help ease the pain in my back.
I don't know if you know, but hospital bathrooms are not soundproof. While I sat in the bathroom, I could hear John, Heather, and Elaine (my mother in law) having a heated conversation in the room. Elaine kept insisting that the baby was coming soon. I pretty much thought she was whack. Hadn't she heard? I was only HALF a centimeter dilated.
Eventually John came back to find me. I was happy enough to see him, but felt fine where I was. I didn't want to move. But he insisted that I had to get back to the bed. I really didn't want to go back to the torture chamber, but I wasn't in the mood to fight with him. I tried a few times to get up and walk, but again, I had intense contractions each time, so I kept sitting back down to let them pass. Eventually John said I had to walk despite the contractions. I made it to the sink to wash my hands, and while standing there started praying "Jesus, help me do this! Jesus, I can't walk back there- Jesus, help me! Jesus, give me strength!" But according to the innocent bystanders, all that was coming out was "Jesus!" (I guess there are worse things to be calling out:)
Eventually we made it back to the bed. The RN was there and asked if she could check how far I was dilated. I had specifically written in my birth plan that I only wanted to be checked by the MDs, because I saw no point in having the RN check me just so that she could go tell the MD who would have to come check me anyway. I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but having your cervix checked, especially when you are in labor, is not the most pleasent of experiences. I asked if the MD was available to do it, and she said that they were all tied up in other deliveries. It had been about 3 hours since I had last been checked (the standard is to check every 2 hours) so I agreed. Without realizing I was doing it, I kept calling out to Jesus while I moved into position to be checked. I was so uncomfortable, and the pressure of laying on my back was terrible.
I had specifically stated in my birth plan that other than the initial "check," I didn't want to know how far I was, because I would rather listen to my body than some number. When the RN was done checking me, she told me she was going to go get the doctor (um, why didn't she do that to begin with so that I didn't have to be checked twice? Grrrr!) John stepped out into the hall with the RN to get the update, and I tried to get comfortable. It wasn't really working, and I wanted to get up from the bed, but felt like that was silly since I was just going to have to get back into the bed again when the doctor came to check me. Boy, I was really irritated at that moment.
Itt was about 6:40pm by the time he came back into the room, during the middle of a contraction. He took my hand. I don't remember doing this, but he says I did. And then, in another momemt I don't remember, I turned to him and said "I think I need to push."