Thanks to God’s infinite providence, the doctors had changed shifts, and my absolute favorite doctor from my practice was on duty. She was much less strict about the time limit (I didn’t have any signs of infection yet) and worked with me to try and stick to the non-surgical labor I wanted.
Getting the epidural actually proved more difficult than anticipated. My stubborn defense is that the doctor did a lousy job of explaining what he was doing and alerting me when/where I was going to feel touching or poking. Basically, I was a big, fat flincher. I flinched so hard right before he stuck the needle in that he jumped backwards.
Finally, we conquered that hurdle and soon I was reclined and relaxing on the bed. Around 9:30 p.m. my doctor checked me again. (For anyone who is counting, this makes the 107th time I was checked.) Six centimeters! Woohoo! A hundred hours of labor to get one and a half centimeters, add drugs, and I get to six in an hour and a half. Someone’s uterus was obviously not relaxing going the natural route, but I won’t name names. I was completely thrilled with my progress, and my doctor was convinced I would be at 10 centimeters and ready to push in an hour or so.
Clayton’s mom had arrived by this time, and she hung out with us for awhile, along with my parents who had been invited back to the room once the epidural took hold. We were all in pretty good spirits.
The doctor checked me again around 10:45 p.m. To my surprise and disappointment, I was only 8 centimeters. And I had a fever, suggesting I was finally starting to get the dreaded infection. I know in my core that if I still had the doctor who was on duty in the morning, I would have been wheeled into the operating room at this point. But Dr. Peden agreed to give me just a bit longer, and I am forever grateful to her for honoring my wishes in a safe, reassuring way.
During the next hour, I tried to prepare myself for a C-section. If I had not progressed appropriately, I knew that was what the baby would need to avoid an infection. Honestly, I accepted it. I was ready to undergo the procedure that had topped my list of fears my entire pregnancy. If Addison needed to come safely into this world via surgery, I would give that to her. I fully anticipated that was going to be our story.
Around midnight, Dr. Peden returned for one final check. I locked in on her face, trying to read every eyebrow twitch as good news or bad news. Then she smiled. “9.9,” she said. “I think we can go ahead and push.”
I was ecstatic and filled with relief. I thought it was over, that we had reached our destination. I was so, so wrong.