(Part 1 here)
When we arrived at the hospital, I was taken to a room in the Emergency Department so that the on call OB/GYN from my office could make sure my water had broken. It had. Unfortunately I wasn’t dilated at all. She then casually mentioned that I would be taken upstairs to start pitocin. I’m sorry, do what now?
My doctor explained that because my water broke, I would need to deliver the baby or at least be in hard labor within 12 hours to avoid getting an infection that could pass to the baby. This was vastly different than what I understood from our conversation weeks earlier in her office; I thought I had 12 hours to try and have contractions on my own if my water broke. Nope, 12 hours to get the baby out. Time clock: started. Strike two.
My doctor agreed to give me a couple of hours to see if I started having stronger contractions or progressed at all before beginning pitocin. I didn’t. And what had been one of my greatest reservations had to take place. I got an IV and started on pitocin to induce labor around 10 a.m. With the IV, I could only move around with the bulky cart attached to the drip bag. Strikes three and four. I don’t know what game we were playing, but my birth plan was definitely losing.
The contractions began getting stronger and more noticeable. For several hours I was handling them well. Clayton would rub my back and a birth ball and I became besties. Lying in bed was horrendous, so that was nixed pretty quickly. My parents visited for awhile (another no-no on the original plan). At first, it was a welcome distraction to have other people to talk to and laugh with. They brought lunch for Clayton while I munched on the hospital’s finest ice chips. So cliché.
Unfortunately, their visit stretched into the time the contractions crossed over into the much-harder-to-manage range. I had shown my parents how to see the contractions on the monitor, and every time I was about to have one, my dad would announce it from looking at the monitor before I had felt it yet. “Here comes one,” he’d say, making me unable to relax for any extra seconds I might have had before feeling it myself.
My mom could tell we were entering the no talk, no laugh zone and told my dad it was time to go. It was early afternoon when they left, and after that, things got real. The back rubs no longer felt good and Clayton needed to stay a good three feet away from me during contractions. The birth ball was losing its magic. I’m shuttering a little just thinking about those few hours and feeling perfectly content at the idea of Addison being an only child.
The pain got intense. I was having strong contractions every one and a half to two minutes. Despite how uncomfortable it was, I figured at least things were moving along and I could tell through the strength of the contractions that we had to be progressing. I decided I wanted the epidural around 7:30 p.m. My nurse wanted to check me one last time before she left at 8 and asked if I could hold off on getting the epidural until then. I was at the point in labor when I measured time in contractions. I honestly didn’t know if I had that many epidural-less contractions left in me, but I agreed. But I negotiated a 7:50 check.
One and a half centimeters. Thirteen hours of labor for one and a half centimeters. I was stunned and disheartened and totally discouraged. I wanted the largest cocktail of pain meds this place would serve me. I had just writhed in pain for hours and it was completely useless (according to my less than trustworthy reasoning).
Beyond being completely demoralized, my not progressing also made the C-section conversation relevant. We knew that there was a chance I could be forced to go that route if I didn’t get far enough along in the 12 hour window after my water broke. And now I had hit the time limit and was at a ridiculous one and a half centimeters.