We got checked into the hospital and shown to our labor and delivery room. The rooms are big, something I thought would be pretty awesome. In a few short minutes, I was in a hospital gown, blood was drawn, IV catheter put in, and my belly was strapped into the fetal monitors. We were visited by the midwife on call to discuss the induction options and the approximate timeline. I was 41 weeks 1 day, 50% effaced and maybe 2 cm. Straight pitocin wasn’t going to do anything. We agreed to option 2.
There is some pill (the name of which escapes me) that was designed for something completely different, but someone somewhere decided to stick someplace else and discovered that it helps induce labor! After many years of tweaking the dosage, the medical community discovered that half the dosage was just the right amount. The pill is cut into fourths and administered in roughly 3 hour increments. According to the midwife, the first dose usually doesn’t do much, particularly for first time moms. The second dose may initiate some contractions, but it is far more likely that if labor is going to start, it will be evident after the third dose. However, given my stubborn child and the complete lack of progression on my own even a week post due date, we were cautioned that this course of action would likely NOT induce labor, but would rather prompt my body to kick it up a notch regarding cervical preparedness. We were told that it could be up to three days before we met our little one. A day for the four pill pieces, a day for pitocin, and a day of labor.
4:00pm ish I got the first dose. And then we settled in for the long haul. We pulled out computers and iPads and got to work ignoring the hospital room we were sitting in. My mom came and sat with me for a bit while Shelby went home to get a few more things. 7:00pm ish I got the second dose. Shelby came back and mom went home. And then I started feeling regular bouts of “sickness”. I had that feeling in my gut like I needed to use the bathroom, and then it would go away. And then it would come back. At about 8:00pm, the nurse came in to report that my feelings of illness were actually contractions. And they were happening pretty regularly. I asked to be switched to the wireless monitors and Shelby and I took a walk around the floor. We visited the coach corner where they have fridges full of snacks and beverages, most of which I couldn’t have since I got restricted to clear liquids the minute we got checked in. At about 9:00pm, the nurse came back and told me that I was probably contracting too much for the third dose to be administered as was originally planned, but they’d continue to monitor me and let me know what the plan was closer to 10.
9:30pm my water broke. I felt two pops, heard them reverberate inside me. They weren’t audible, no one else could hear them, but I heard what happened just as surely as the sound a cork makes the first time it popped from the wine bottle. The expulsion of the amniotic fluids was quickly followed by a spike in contraction activity. What had been some mild irritation that I maybe could or couldn’t feel turned into very obvious pain, but still manageable. I paged the nurse to tell her my water had broken, and both she and the midwife came in to do a quick check and talk about the steps going forward.
By the time they arrived, 15 minutes at the most, the contractions were coming one on top of the other, barely enough time to breathe a sigh of relief at the end of one before I could feel the next one starting. They said they thought I was in transition. That seemed unlikely to me, everything I had read indicated that transition was the step just before pushing and I had seen nothing to indicate it lasted longer than an hour, but what do I know. They offered to hook me up to some fluids in the hopes that they would slow the contractions down and I agreed.
I would shake and shiver violently. And then I would feel a burning pain start to rise in my lower belly. Deep breaths and low moans would get me through the worst of it and then I would feel the pain eek out. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted, I only knew I didn’t want to be wet. I tried sitting, lying down, walking, hugging, squatting, thinking of relaxing places, having Shelby talk through trips to Disney and our honeymoon, but nothing seemed to give me much relief. This is the part of the story where a nice big spacious room became more of a hassle than a help. Trying to get to the toilet seemed like an epic journey across the Sahara. At one point, I really needed to be in the bathroom (my labor included a lot of vomiting as well) and was trying to roll the IV to the bathroom with me. I hit a bump, the IV started blaring, I almost pulled the catheter out, but didn’t feel any of it because I was in such a hurry to get to the toilet. I spent a good amount of time laboring on the toilet.
I did finally find that hot and cold compresses seemed to work for me. Shelby would run a washcloth under hot water and I would hold it on my belly while someone else held a cold compress on my head. I made it back to the bed and the nurse offered to check me. My birth plan specifically indicated that I wanted the minimum amount of interruptions including cervical checks. Again, my reading all seemed to indicate that cervical checks really don’t provide much information about the progression of labor. Some women go from nothing to fully dilated in an hour and others add centimeters steadily over a series of weeks. But in this case, I had a need to know that something was happening, that I wasn’t still at 2cm. A quick check showed that I was at 6cm. In her professional opinion, it would probably be another 4-5 hours of labor before I was ready to push. Hot and cold compresses were not going to hold me over for another 4 hours. So I asked for the epidural.