TO THE HOSPITAL/ ACTIVE LABOR
I’m dressed in my nightgown, robe and flip flops.
We emerge from our hotel room – me, Bob, Mom and Laurie – just as an elderly woman with a cane emerges from her room two doors down. We look at her, she looks at us and says, “Go ahead, I’m slow.” I have no energy to say this out loud, but I think, “You have no idea how slow we’re about to be.”
I’m walking like a prisoner with my ankles chained together. Shuffling down the hallway. Holding my belly. We get to the top of the stairs and I announce: “Contraction.”
I stop. I grab someone’s hand. Bob, Mom and Laurie close in around me. There are hands on my back. I’m breathing and fighting through this one. I just want to make it to the car. I’m aware that we have an audience to my contraction. I ride the wave and as it starts to smooth out, I look at the woman. Her eyes are WIDE. So wide.
“Is she having her baby right now?!”
And my mom says,
Once we get to the car my mom mentions that that woman will be telling this story all day. And sure enough she was…. as Laurie found out when she went back to the hotel. The woman at the front desk said that the elderly woman was telling everyone about the lady who was having her baby “right there on the stairs.”
If only that were true.
BIRTH ROOM 6
We get to the hospital around 2PM. Melinda won’t be here until about 4PM. So a nurse examines me. And she says that I’m only 2 centimeters dilated and only 80% effaced. So according to her, I went BACKWARDS! More disappointment.
I’m swiftly hooked up to these monitors and told to lie down on MY back in the bed.
This is not a good position for me.
I do not want to lie down on my back.
I can’t control the contractions this way.
They tell me I have to wait until Melinda gets there before I can move or take those monitors off. And then it hits me…. the worst effing contraction yet. And I have no power over it from this lying on my back position.
“I’m gonna puke,” I say once the contraction passes.
I have no energy to say anything so it’s not a surprise that no one hears me. I say it louder.
“I’m gonna puke. Seriously!”
Laurie is in my face in no time with a puke bag and there I go… vomiting up what little water and food (a bite of peach) into the barf bag. (Yes, labor is messy and gross….I know)
I hate throwing up. Really hate it. I always cry when I throw up. This was no exception. Tears just sit in my eyes as I wonder how the hell I’m going to get through this.
After the vomiting incident, they let me sit on the edge of the bed. Much better. But still. My state of mind has shifted from the MY BODY WAS MADE TO DO THIS positive frame of mind to I DON’T WANT TO FEEL THIS PAIN ANYMORE!
Instead of chanting, “Pain is not real,” I’m thinking, “I never want to do this again!”
“I cannot take this pain a second longer!”
“Just get this baby out of me!”
The IV drip
I pee in a cup. They test my pee and before long I’m on an IV fluid drip. I am totally depleted from being up the whole night.
After a while it is determined that the IV isn’t working the way they want. They test my pee again and switch me to a glucose drip. To get me calories. Apparently my body is feeding off of itself. I have nothing to give. And I am in active labor. And only 2 centimeters dilated? How is this going to work?!
Laurie convinces me that when Melinda arrives, we will find that I am further dilated and effaced. And when Melinda does arrive, I cry. From relief. I try to hold it back, but either Bob or Laurie (can’t remember which) reminds me that crying releases Oxytocin which helps with the labor. So I cry.
She examines me and finds that I am indeed (finally) 3 centimeters dilated and 90 something effaced. Good news, indeed. I feel much better.
At this point I’m officially admitted to the hospital.
And I’m already thinking about the epidural.
Around 5PM I start talking about it.
“I’m thinking about an epidural,” I tell everyone. “I just don’t know how much more pain I can take. It’s been so long.”
Melinda suggests that the glucose drip could actually help energize me and I might not want the epidural after that. So I agree to wait to see what the drip does. And I decide to wait in the bath. My mom joins me. At first it feels great to be in the tub again. I fall asleep between contractions and wake up into torture. This is not good. So I get out. Make my way back to the room. And sit on the edge of the bed.
I feel defeated. Laurie asks if I want to try the birth ball again.
No. I just want to sit here on the edge of the bed.
Do I want music?
Do I want to try the toilet again?
I just want to sit on the edge of the bed. Actually… I just want this all to be over.
But I’m here and I’m having contractions and being coached. So there’s nothing to do but this.
I can do this. I breathe and manage to let the pain rush over me. There are times where I am so still. So calm. Eerily. I actually amaze myself with how calm and still I can be while so much craziness is happening on the inside. For example, during the insertion of the IV I remained completely still during a contraction.
Other times I swear. I start to say, “Mother F…” and I stop myself. Until Laurie says, “It’s okay, you can say it.” So I do.
Both Laurie and Mom are struggling to give me enough counter pressure in my back and I want Bob up by my face so I can stare into his eyes and squeeze the life out of his hands. They try the tennis ball. But that isn’t enough. They aren’t able to meet my demands of PUSH HARDER! I begin thinking perhaps we should have brought the rolling pin.
But Mom, always using her head, comes up with the perfect solution. By using her head. Literally. Here’s a picture.
I know, I know. Too much. But it’s one of the only pictures I have of the labor. Had I known anyone had taken that picture at the time I would have smacked them so hard. I actually think it was Bob who took the picture. Which means he must have been on a break. After two weeks it is hard to remember.
THE SAFE WORD
A few weeks before my due date, Laurie had suggested we come up with a code word for labor… this word would be used in the event that I wanted everyone to know that I was serious about not going on without pain management. That I had given everything and truly couldn’t take it anymore.
It would be my version of “uncle.”
Having a word for a moment like this is important because you will say all sorts of things in the middle of a contraction that you don’t necessarily mean. So the “code word” would let everyone know I was serious.
Bob’s response was, “Oh, like a safe word!” And we laughed. And started calling it a safe word. My Labor Safe word was Gorilla.
I think about Gorilla. But I don’t say it yet.
Melinda tells me that she’s going to step out for fifteen minutes and then we are going to have to talk about pain management.
I then say it in my head.
Gorilla. Gorilla. Gorilla.
TO BE CONTINUED… (I have to feed the baby)