When they wheeled me off the elevator on the Labor and Delivery floor, I started having a contraction. I was holding my stomach with one hand and gripping the wheelchair with the other while taking short, fast breaths. I remember thinking that it felt like how labor is always depicted in the movies. We wheeled past the nurse who had checked me that morning. Bryan told me later that she expressed her disappointment as we were passing that her shift was ending right as we arrived. Very sweet. We really felt the whole time like the nurses taking care of us loved their jobs. Their attitudes had a positive impact on our experience, and I was so grateful for each of them. They got us settled in the room and hooked me up to IV antibiotics because I had tested positive for strep B (not a big deal, apparently, but they want you to have antibiotics to protect the baby as a precaution).
My parents and sister arrived, and we all sat around in the room chatting. We were excited that the wait was almost over, and I felt so much love and support from everyone. Our nurse told Bryan that she noticed I was tensing up my shoulders during contractions and encouraged him to help me relax those muscles while I breathed. I tried to focus on relaxing my muscles, and the contractions continued steadily about 4 minutes apart. About 3am, I decided to go for a walk with Bryan and my IV pole. I knew I would probably want an epidural at some point, and I wanted to be mobile while I still could. We made two laps around the L&D floor, and the intensity of the contractions really kicked up. I was HURTING! At this point I had been laboring for more than twelve hours with no pain relief. I decided I was ready for the epidural.
Our family left the room, and the nurse anesthitist was there within 10 or 15 minutes. I remembered what to expect from our “prepared childbirth” class, and that helped me to be mentally at ease during the process. Everything went smoothly and the three parents and my sister came back in. I was dilated to a 5 or 6 by then. They decided to go get some sleep at our house since it was close to the hospital. Bryan and I tried to rest. The epidural started wearing off on my right side around 10am, so they gave me more medicine. Suddenly, it was like my body realized how exhausted it was after weeks of not sleeping well, carrying around this huge belly, and then 12+ hours of labor. I got more relaxed than I’d been since…well, before I was pregnant, probably, and fell into a deep, deep sleep. It was indescribably glorious. My friend Julie told me that she experienced something similar, which made me feel less crazy, because, really—what a weird time for a great nap.
At some point, my doctor came in to check me and broke my water. Bryan told me that our family was back and hanging out in the waiting room area. My brother was on his way. It worked out well that the next day was Good Friday, so he would have left that day to come home from college for Easter anyway.
The waiting room crew had grown by the afternoon.
The next thing I remember is hearing the nurse call my OB and seeing someone wheel an incubator into the room. They were getting ready. It was about to be go time! “I must wake up and give birth!” I thought.
Apparently this is going to be a three parter. 🙂