“Tuesday, there will be a baby…”
I kept hearing the doctor’s voice on the car ride there. I still hadn’t gone into natural labor, even though it was now one day past her due date, and five days after the first induction. But, today was going to be the day. I was nervous, of course, but excited more than anything.
When we got there, I was discouraged that they placed me in the triage room again. I thought since the doctor seemed so confident today was the day, they’d put me in a private delivery room.
But, it was what it was, and behind the curtain I went. I put on the gown and laid down. Then, they began the drill exactly like last Thursday. Fetal heartbeat monitor strapped to my belly, blood pressure cuff on my arm. They drew some more blood, though still spared me the IV, at least for the time being. They checked me, but I was still the same as last Thursday. 60% effaced, no dilation. Then they began the first dose of gel.
An hour later, nothing.
They tried the second dose of gel.
An hour later, nothing.
On to the third.
A few minutes after this dose, things started happening. Mild contractions began, and I watched the monitor beside me that showed bumps with every contraction. They seemed small, but there were bumps none-the-less.
They got progressively stronger throughout that hour, and I was anxious to see how much progress I was making. But when the nurse came back and checked, there was nothing. Still no dilation. I wondered when they’d begin the pitocin, remembering that the doctor said that would be the next step to get my body to kick into gear. But, when the doctor came around, he checked me, verifying no progress, and told me to get dressed.
“But I thought you said I wouldn’t be going home today.”
He seemed tired, and I wondered if he’d just had a long night of deliveries.
“Well, there’s no progress at all. Come back Thursday, and we’ll try again.”
“Be induced again?”
I was tired of this. The contractions were strengthening, but apparently not enough. We gathered our things yet again, and walked out.
As I walked out to the car, I could feel my body continuing to kick into gear. The contractions were strengthening, and getting closer together.
By the time we got back to my parents house, they were strong. I closed my eyes and breathed through each one. After just a few minutes at home, my mom noticed how close together they were, and grabbed her phone to time them.
1 minute, 45 seconds apart. Consistently.
She called the doctor’s office and explained the timing of the contractions, and that I had just been sent home.
“Take her back. She’s in labor,” they replied.
I was having a hard time walking through the hall, when the nurse at the nurses station noticed me. “You’re back?” She asked.
Yes. I’m back.
They placed me in a private little room this time, and the nurse proceeded to check me.
“You’re still not dilating.”
At all. They strapped the monitor on me again and had me lay there for 20 minutes to watch the contractions. Twenty minutes later, the nurse returned with the doctor. He acknowledged that the contractions were starting, but said that they were minor, and then he checked me to verify that I still had not dilated.
“Come back Thursday,” he said.
Thursday seemed like an eternity away.
“But what about these contractions?” I was afraid that if I went home, I wouldn’t know when to come back. If contractions a minute and 45 seconds apart didn’t qualify as “real labor,” how would I know when it was real?
“The gel does that to you… the contractions will go away with time. Come back Thursday.”
The contractions had not gone away. They had only gotten stronger. Sweet Pea was finally asleep in the bedroom with my husband. My mom and dad fast asleep in their room. I was perched up on the black recliner, smack in the middle of the living room. I couldn’t lay down. I couldn’t relax. Every three to five minutes, my hips would burn like nothing I’d ever felt before. Breathe, Stephanie. Just breathe.
I remembered my labor classes, and was grateful that I had learned how to focus and breathe during the contractions. It helped me stay quiet so others could sleep.
My husband needed sleep. It was week two of his brand new job as a Special Education Teacher, and he’d already missed 2 days of work for both the “failed” inductions. His stress level was sky-high, as we still knew he’d have to miss more when the birth did finally come. He was tired. And overwhelmed. He needed to rest.
My mom needed sleep. She had spent the last 3 1/2 weeks helping us establish life out here, had been our babysitter during the inductions, and was set to watch Sweet Pea during our whole stay at the hospital. She was gracious and wonderful, and swore she didn’t mind, but I knew she’d have a difficult time keeping up with a 2 year old, if she didn’t get a good night’s rest.
I sat there on the black chair, waiting for the burn to hit again. And it did, consistently, every 3-5 minutes apart. When I had to stand to walk to the restroom, the pain intensified. I wished I could wake my husband. Or my mom. I needed someone. Someone to support me, to tell me to just breathe. I knew that they’d wake in a heartbeat if I expressed that I needed them, but I also knew that they needed sleep. They needed to be rested when the delivery was upon us. I’d need them to be rested so I could rely on them at the hospital.
As I made my way back to the black chair, I remembered, I wasn’t alone.
God was there, in the darkness, in the midst of the pain, holding my heart steady as my body wailed in discomfort at the treatment it’d received, and as it began its struggle to get a tiny person out of me. PM turned to AM, and with time I was able to nod off for a few minutes at a time between contractions, before waking to another burn.
Contrary to the doctor telling me they should’ve lightened up, they were definitely getting worse.
The next morning
Her sweet little face looked sad as she watched me. I, her safe place, had just snapped at her, told her to be quiet, in a harsher tone than she’d ever heard.
The pain was now central and low, in addition to the hips and back, and I wasn’t breathing through them as easily. Completely worn out from the long night in the black chair, I was too tired to care that I’d just snapped at Sweet Pea. Inwardly, I did care, and I hated it. But outwardly, I was too agitated to rectify the situation.
When the contraction ended and I opened my eyes, I saw my mom’s face as she watched me. She was clearly surprised at what had just happened. I’d never spoken to my daughter like that before. She stood to her feet.
“Let’s go. You’re in labor. They have to take you now.”
She knew my fear. I’d been sent home not twice, but three times all together. I wouldn’t be able to handle that again. I wanted to make sure there was no way they’d send me home. I just couldn’t play that game anymore.
We loaded up in the van, and dropped Sweet Pea off at a family friend’s house. I was sitting in the backseat (I don’t remember why), but I remember my mom watching me in the rearview mirror, concern written all over her face. She’d comment about how long the contractions were, but we didn’t talk much other than that. I couldn’t hold a conversation.
We made it to the hospital to discover that there was no parking anywhere. It’s okay, I told my mom. Let’s go to my aunt’s house. It was just a few minutes away. I wasn’t ready to face the nurses and doctor. Wasn’t convinced they wouldn’t turn me away.
We went into the empty house and were there about 45 minutes before the breathing turned to moans. Surely I had to be dilating. With that, my mom told me to get in the car, it’s time to go.
There was still no available parking at the hospital. My mom pulled up to the front doors, and walked me to a chair in the lobby. I sat down. I wasn’t going back there alone. I needed her. She left to park the car down the street, and came back after what felt like forever. I could feel watching eyes on me, sizing me up, as I sported my husbands extra large, well-worn, mid-gray workout shorts and XL white t-shirt. I hadn’t bothered combing my hair or brushing my teeth. I just couldn’t even think about that.
Finally, my mom appeared in the doorway and helped me stand. A voice at the front desk asked if I needed a wheelchair. “No”, I said. It’s best if I walk. Dilate, body, dilate.
But a second later, another contraction hit, and I grasped the half-wall that separated the waiting room from the hallway.
“She’ll take a wheelchair,” my mom said. They brought one promptly and rolled me back.
The same nurse that sent me away the night before was the first to see me come through the doors.
“You again, honey? Are they worse today?”
Uh, yeah. They’re worse. I could only nod.
Once again, she led me to a curtained-off area in triage, and tossed a gown onto the bed.
“Get undressed and put the gown on, then lay down.” She turned and walked out.
My mom wasn’t behind me, and I wasn’t sure where she’d gone, but I needed her.
I looked at the gown, and felt incredibly helpless to fulfill such a simple endeavor. I kicked off my sandals, and attempted to undress, feeling as though it were impossible. But somehow I managed to switch out the clothing, and I lied down.
My mother came in a minute later, and then, that same nurse.
She routinely went to check me, when suddenly, she alerted to the moment. Her eyes widened as they locked onto mine. Her voice loud and surprised.
“You’re like an 8 or 9!”
Thank you! I thought. So I had been dilating. All night long. I felt such relief to finally be taken seriously. And quickly realized that this show was nearing its climax.
They worked quickly to move me to a private labor and delivery room. My mom called my husband.
It was time.
Continue reading the story here.