So where were we? It was around eight or nine at night, I think, and I'd been walking and walking and talking and walking some more, and I was still at five to six cm and still not having regular contractions, but the baby's head had moved lower at least. (Here's where I'm running to the baby's room to get the birth story our doula gave us, because I'm realizing that the timetable in my head is fuzzy at best, and if I have a hard copy available with exact details, I might as well go and fetch it.)
OK, I'm back! And I immediately found a significant detail I had neglected to mention previously: for once, I was group B strep NEGATIVE, so I didn't have to have an IV! I did have to get an INT so that they would have intravenous access if necessary, so the painful insertion process was the same as an IV, but then once it was over, I had no cumbersome pole to drag around with me for the next night and day! I was incredibly psyched about this.
And my timeline was definitely fuzzy, because according to the paperwork here I didn't get my second cervical check until a little after ten, not eight. I had also forgotten that somewhere in between checks I had decided to try bouncing on the birthing ball, but the hospital's was flat, and they had no clue where to find a pump. So Stacy had to go down to her car and get her own ball, which she fortunately brings with her just in case. That was kind of funny at the time, I remember. The nurse had shrugged when questioned about why the ball was flat and said, "Well, no one ever uses it!" So I was the crazy lady in the bathtub room bouncing away on a big red ball to help open her cervix instead of laying in bed, hooked to an IV like a good little patient. :) (I may also have been eating all night long, too, here and there, which I'm pretty sure was technically against their rules. No one said anything to me about it, though.)
It was around this time that I kicked everyone out for a few hours so I could rest in peace. I had kind of been assuming that my doctor would have suggested breaking my water by now, since I'd been at the hospital for four hours or so with hardly any progress, but when the nurse called her with the results of my check she just said, "Sounds good!" So I was feeling a little tired and frustrated- I'd thought that I would be close to pushing by now, given the fact that the nurse kept telling me how the water bag was bulging and all. I had been sure they would've just broken it, or that it would have broken on its own, and then in an hour or so the baby would be out! But things seemed in limbo for the night.
After my family and friends left, Jim and Stacy and I discussed requesting to have my water broken and whether it would be wiser to git 'er done, as it were, or try to sleep through the night and gather some energy, then have the baby in the morning. I was hoping to have a magical water-never-breaking until the pushing phase birth like my friend Jess did, but once again, as in my previous births, not much progress past five cm. seemed to be happening with the water bag intact.
When the nurse came back in to check my monitor (I had gotten in bed to rest for a bit, so they did a twenty minute strip to check on baby and contractions) she said that my doctor had another patient who would be arriving early the next morning for an induction, and that the plan was to hold off on breaking my water until then, assuming it didn't break on its own. My doctor was currently at home and wouldn't be in until the morning UNLESS I insisted on having my water broken right away, and I hated to be the jerk patient who dragged the doctor out of her bed. I also figured that if the doctor wasn't in any hurry to urge the baby out, I guessed I didn't need to be either. Plus that would give me a little extra time to labor him down with my water cushion still intact, which is always less painful, and also to see if maybe for once my water would pop on its own.
So all that to say, I didn't end up getting my water broken that night, and opted instead to try to get some sleep while the contractions were still mild and infrequent. Jim and Stacy stayed, obviously, and so did my sister Laura and friend Jess- the room across the hall was earmarked for me, as a recovery room, so we were allowed to use it as a hotel room of sorts that night as well. Jim, Laura and Jess crashed out on the bed and pull out sofa over there (after making a late night Arby's run) and Stacy stayed on the couch in my room to keep an eye on me and take notes.
I slept fitfully on and off, I think, but most of the time I was just laying there thinking. I was trying to figure out why I still felt hesitant about the labor and delivery process, why I was still a little freaked out at the idea that the baby was COMING and was actually going to be here. With my other two I was always desperate to be done with pregnancy and thrilled to finally be at the hospital, but right then I felt reluctant and wanting to stall, despite the physical discomfort. I kept thinking vaguely, "What if we just went home? Maybe we can wait a week or so still!"
I did a lot of praying and meditating kind of stuff those few hours, trying to relax into the role of mom of three and accept the new stage of life that was beginning. I think that was the problem- I was still so much enjoying just finally being off of bedrest and getting to live my normal life and take care of my family. Everything felt fun, and I knew once the baby came it was going to be a rough jolt into sleepless nights and lots of work all of the sudden, as well as possible jealousy issues from the two kiddos who were currently being so happy and sweet because I was finally off the couch and playing with them. I was reluctant for that post-bedrest bliss phase to end, I think.
I did finally feel at peace, more or less, and also pretty awake again. I hadn't really slept much, especially since they were monitoring me on and off through the night since I was in bed anyways. I barely felt like I had had any contractions. But Stacy said that she had been aware, throughout the two and a half hours I was quiet, of every time I had a contraction because of the way my breathing changed.
Around four fifteen I was awake for good, and Stacy got up and went for a walk with me. I also had a cereal and orange juice snack- I was ravenous again! I don't know how women make it through labor without eating! When we got back to the room we somehow got on the topic of churches, religion and spirituality, which was very interesting and a good distraction from nonstop labor thoughts. Around five fifteen Jim, Jess and Laura woke up, and we went for another lap around the maternity floor. I would have contractions, but nothing on a regular timetable, and nothing I couldn't talk through.
Finally around seven my doctor arrived and checked me. Amazingly, despite pretty much an utter lack of anything I could honestly describe as PAIN pain, I had reached seven to eight cm! When she broke my water bag, the fluid was clear, but there was not much water left in there. We discussed the possibility that I may have been leaking fluid for awhile now, What I had been sure was just constant urine leaks from a giant baby on my bladder may have actually been a small tear in the water sac. But I had had an ultrasound just a week earlier which showed plenty of fluid, so if things had gotten unhealthy in there, at least it hadn't been for too long. Still, it made me feel very relieved that he was coming out now! The doctor reminded me to keep drinking lots of fluids to keep up the water supply for him since I didn't have an IV running.
At this point I was informed that the baby's head was asynclitic, or cocked to one side. This made sense since most of the pain I HAD noticed was in my lower back and tailbone. I was actually relieved- I had guessed he was probably totally sunny-side up, as they say, and at least sideways left a greater chance for turning him around the right way. I had them start filling the birth tub after my water was broken; I figured the contractions were sure to get intense pretty soon and I would want to get in. My body definitely reacted to the change intensely: the first time I stood up after my water was broken, my legs were shaking violently and I could barely stand. And mentally I felt different- I could feel in my bones that real labor had commenced, and I started to panic a little bit. I was afraid of the pain getting suddenly huge, instead of building up gradually like in a normal labor, and I was afraid of the pushing phase, which was now looming.
I remember pulling Jim into the bathroom with me, shutting the door on everyone else, and telling him, "I need you to pray for me now to stay focused." I knew the only way I could have the birth I wanted was if I kept my brain in sync with what my body was doing, instead of letting it freak out at what my body was doing! So we prayed together and hugged for a little while, and I calmed back down and came out feeling ok again. Which, you know, is what you always hope for out of a bathroom trip.
And now, duty calls and I have to stop again. Holy excessive details, I can't believe this is going to take me three posts! (You: no kidding.) But I wanted to tell it the way it came to me, and this is how it's coming to me: in very specific detail. Whadda ya gonna do. Hopefully I'll be back to wrap this up tomorrow!