The triage area had 5 or 6 different sections in it, each separated by curtains. It definitely wasn’t private, so I was hoping to be moved over to an actual laboring room ASAP. An OB resident came to talk to me about my contractions and pain and to also measure me to see if I was any further dilated compared to earlier that afternoon when I was checked by my doctor. In order to measure me, they had to lie me down on my back and it was the most excruciating pain I had felt up to that point. I had a contraction while he was measuring and it was absolutely horrible. I let out this blood curdling scream and looking back on that moment, I felt really bad for the other women and partners in the triage area as they were probably beyond scared of what I was going through because I was pretty loud. Luckily I was measuring at 4cm, so they decided to admit me. Cheryl, the overnight nurse that was assigned to me, came over to introduce herself and move over some of our stuff into my private room.
Cheryl had set up my room so that I could take another shower right away. The shower had a hand-held head so I got in with my sports bra still on and Hubby stood outside with the nozzle spraying on my lower back. I stayed in there for 15 minutes or so and then got out and sat upright on the bed. The on-call doctor that worked for my ob-gyn practice came in to introduce herself and go over a few things that may come up while I was laboring. After she left, the anesthesiologist came in to talk with me. He took one look at the scar on my back and said immediately that he wouldn’t be able to do an epidural OR a spinal. I was really disappointed he wouldn’t even try to do a spinal if I needed a c-section and I started crying right after he left. Cheryl reassured me there was no need to do a c-section at this point since my labor was progressing normally, I was having regular contractions, and both my and Baby C’s heartbeats were strong.
The anesthesiologist came back a few minutes later to let Cheryl know she could order an IV drip for Fentanyl. Once they got that set up, I was able to self administer myself the meds by pushing a button (it only let me get a new dose every 15 minutes). The meds didn’t kick in until maybe a half hour later. They didn’t do much for the pain, though I do think my contractions felt a little shorter. The biggest difference was that they completely zoned me out in between contractions, so I was able to relax before the next one came on. I never got to the point where I was able to fall asleep but I didn’t need Hubby for support so he tried to sleep for an hour on the couch in the room. Cheryl stayed in my room the entire time – I think she only left once or twice for longer than 5 minutes. She was great – very calming and encouraged me to keep up the deep breathing during my contractions. Sometime during the night she asked what we were having and what we were naming him – I finally told her Baby C’s name. She was the first person we told the secret to.
I can’t remember if this is the right order of how things happened, but they eventually had to move over the IV drip to my other arm, as my right arm started to swell because the IV wasn’t in correctly. I ended up with a huge bruise that didn’t disappear for two weeks. Once they moved the IV over to my other arm, the drugs worked even better and I actually fell asleep for a little. However, the reason why I fell asleep is because my contractions started to slow. I think it was around 4AM that the on-call doctor came back in and said they were going to break my water to help progress things along. I didn’t feel anything when she broke my water, and since it was more of a slow trickle, Cheryl stuck a couple towels under me and in between my legs while I was sitting in bed or sitting in the rocking chair. I just remember feeling very grossed out by it, especially every time I got up to go to the bathroom. You basically have no control over anything once you’re in labor.
Pretty quickly after my water was broken, my contractions started to pick up again and got very intense. I tried different positions by standing up and leaning against Hubby, then moving over to the rocking chair, and then Cheryl suggested I kneel on the bed with my chin resting on the top of the bed and my arms propped over (she moved the bed so that the top part was basically standing straight up). Nothing ever helped to alleviate the constant lower back pain I had, though. The nurses thought the back pain was a combination of the way Baby C was sitting and the rods in my back that was causing the pressure. Hubby was trying to help by using a hand-held massager I had brought, but his hands would get tired of moving it after awhile. So many people have asked me what contractions feel like, and I never can explain it thoroughly. I think the only thing that comes somewhat close to describing them is by thinking of a horrible Charlie horse in your leg that doesn’t stop for a good minute. And then multiply the pain of the Charlie horse by 100. But even that pain isn’t similar, because that’s more of a shooting, sharp feeling and contractions feel much different. I don’t think men or women who haven’t gone through the birthing process will ever truly understand the real pain of contractions since they can’t experience it themselves.
The sun started to rise at this point and then at 7AM, the shift for the nurses was over, so Ann came on as my new nurse. Luckily she was also a mid-wife, and her skills and experience would definitely come in handy later on. I think it was at this time that the nursing student director also came in to ask if I was okay with a nursing student watching and participating. I could care less if one more person was in the room at that point, and I figured there’s no better way to learn than by watching a woman actually have a “live” labor, so I agreed she could come in. Best decision I made – Karen was amazing and probably helped more than the other nurses did. She took the hand-held massager and stood behind me while I leaned on Hubby and rocked back and forth. She probably ended up massaging me for a good two hours and never stopped. She would ask if I needed water, ice chips to chew on, wash cloths for my forehead, and anything else to help me. At this point I was completely uncomfortable and in pain constantly with very little relief between contractions. Little did I know I was finally entering transition stage and we were getting very close to having a baby…