It was a Monday, March 16, 2009. I didn’t sleep well the night before. Contractions were frequent (still not regular) and powerful (though they didn’t hurt) and kept waking me up. I called my doctor in the morning and caught her before she left for an out-of-town conference. She told me to go to the hospital. So, I showered and got ready, and my husband and I went to the hospital. This was my third time going there. We went through the check-in process in admitting and then went up to the third floor, Labor and Delivery.
I was taken to a double occupancy room (there was another woman and her husband in the room), put on a gown and got into bed. The nurse hooked me up to monitors and I was having contractions often (about 7 minutes apart, then 6, and then 5).
A doctor came in to where my husband and I were and asked if we were the so-and-so’s. We told him that we were not, and that the other couple in the room probably were. The doctor was funny and personable and made a joke I don’t quite remember now, and went to see the other couple. We overheard that this woman, who was still pretty far from her due date, would have to have a C-section and have her baby that day.
My contractions were gradually becoming more painful (I reported a 7 on the 1-10 pain scale). However, after examining me, the nurse told me that I was not dilated yet and therefore was in early labor. She sent my home and told me to come back at some later time. I had no idea when I was supposed to come back.
I was confused. How would I know when I was in active labor, and dilated? The nurse told me that for one thing I wouldn’t be able to speak (like I was at that moment) during active labor. She told me to go home and walk around a lot to get the dilation started.
On the way home things were getting intense. At home they just kept getting worse. I was in pain. I labored at home and it was like nothing I had ever felt before. I had no idea that labor was going to feel like this. I could not get comfortable. I was so tired from not being able to sleep well the night before. So I’d lie on the couch and start to doze off and then 4, the 3, then 2 minutes later a contraction would start (and there’s no way to sleep through that). What it felt like: it would start as kind of this burning, aching, cramping sensation in the lower belly in the front and then begin to radiate along, all the way around the lower back and down the legs, becoming much more powerful, painful as it continued. No position that I got in would stop it or alleviate the pain. It got to the point of unbearable, way beyond a 10 on the pain scale.
My husband helped me to try to walk around; we went on a walk around my block, but I had to keep stopping and just breathe. When the contractions came on, I cried, I writhed. I couldn’t and didn’t eat anything.
Finally, it was about 8 or 8:30 at night, and there was no way I was going to be able to sleep or get through that night at home. I told my husband “I am spending the night in the hospital tonight. I don’t care if I’m not in labor, they have to keep me.” He called the hospital and told them he was brining me in, that they needed to find a place for me there, etc.
I went to the bathroom just as we were about to leave, and saw my mucus plug in the toilet. This had to be it.
I grabbed my pre-packed bag and we left. I wondered if I was I really in active labor. Was I dilated? Would I have my baby soon? When?
My life was about to change forever.
We got to the hospital, my husband helped me into a wheelchair and he zoomed through the halls – tears were streaming down my face. We checked in at the admitting window – again (the second time that day). Then we got into the elevator up to the third floor to Labor and Delivery. They gave me a private room, where I got into a gown, got onto the bed, and met the nurse who would share in and help me through my delivery. She hooked me up to monitors and helped to calm me as the contractions continued “beating me up.”
My husband stood in the doorway of the room, looking out into the hallway for a doctor. Then, he saw the doctor we had met earlier that day, and called to him. The doctor, who was the one on call that night, came into the room. He gloved up, examined me, and then said, “We’re keeping you here tonight.” Joy and relief filled me. “Do you want to know why,” he continued. “Why?” I said, hoping. He said: “Because you are 4 centimeters dilated.” Those were the most precious words I had ever heard. I sighed and started to cry and said, “Oh, thank God.” Then he asked, “When do you want your epidural?” I yelled, “Now!”
Then, I got my epidural and felt like I had died and gone to heaven. I had never felt relief from pain like that. I was now able to relax for the next several hours for what was ultimately about to happen.
More to come …