how it all went down: part 1

April 9, 2012
i have a feeling i will be writing this in bits and pieces between naps — both annabel’s and my own. still, i want to get it all down so that i can remember my labor/her birth experience forever! it wasn’t all fun + games, but i don’t think i would do anything differently. and the reward has been sweeter than i even could have imagined . . .

wednesday 4.4.12: daytime
i think by wednesday morning i sort of knew things were . . . happening. certain signs had occurred, and i actually wondered if my water had broken in a very non-dramatic/subtle fashion [i called our OB triage nurse who seemed unimpressed by my description]. i was also just starting to feeling contractions that actually had a pain component. it was a very braxton-hicks-heavy pregnancy, so i was used to the routine tightening, but wednesday was the first time these tightenings were accompanied by a crampy sensation — really no different than period cramps, actually.

i wasn’t sure if this really meant anything, but deep down i must have known. i started tidying up my affairs — sent a final draft of the poster i had been working on to my boss, made sure the hospital bag was completely ready, and started timing the cramps to see if i could make out any pattern. during the day, they were coming fairly irregularly, every 20-30 minutes or so.

i did get in one last workout [i walked instead of ran — just wasn’t feeling it 🙂 ] — a 3 mile walk around duke’s east campus. if nothing else, i thought perhaps it would help speed things along. maybe it did . . .

last week of workouts!

wednesday 4.4.12: evening
by the time josh came home from work, i was continuing to suspect progress. i kept saying that while i wasn’t sure, i thought that things were happening. we ate dinner. i wasn’t super hungry but had some lasagna + ice cream, thinking that it might be my last meal for a while. [spoiler alert: i was right.]

[pics of the app taken after the fact!]

by 10 pm, we were in bed. however, by this point i realized that this was NOT going to a night of sleep. the contractions were getting increasingly painful — to the point where i had to breathe through them like every clichéd pregnant woman you see on tv. but they were not close enough together to do anything about [ie, head to the hospital]. so, i pretty much just stayed in bed half-sleeping in 10-minute increments throughout the night. every time a contraction would hit, i would wake up and time it on my phone app. they were getting quite intense and i was actually HOPING they’d get closer together so that i could get closer to some pain relief!

by 3 am, i told josh there was no way he was going to work the next day. and by about 4 am, things started rapidly speeding up while the pain ramped in severity.

by 4:30, i was tossing last-minute items into the hospital bag, and josh was making his own preparations. and by 5 am, we were out the door.

thursday 4.5.12: early morning
josh dropped me off at the hospital entrance and i walked to L&D — luckily i made it between contractions! when i arrived at the front desk, they initially seemed confused — apparently, i was supposed to have called ahead [no one told me that!]. they eventually got over it, but it wasn’t the warmest welcome to a clearly very uncomfortable and very pregnant woman presenting herself to OB triage at 5 in the morning [seriously, why did they THINK i was there!?].

anyway, i got put back in a room and hooked up to monitors, and then the on-call OB came in and checked my cervix. based on the pain i was having i was expecting some serious progress — so you might imagine how dismayed i was when she proclaimed i was a whopping 2 cm, 80% effaced.

seriously, i just felt like i was experiencing wayyyy more than 2 cm worth of pain. i was also continuing to leak bloody fluid, but no one said anything about my water breaking. i was even more dismayed when she offered me 3 options:

1. go home + come back later [how would i know when!? the contractions were already coming 2-3 minutes apart and were extremely painful].

2. get discharged but then walk around the hospital and come back [walk around my workplace doubling over in the hallways!? really!?]

3. get admitted to receive IV pain control [fentanyl]. apparently, i wasn’t dilated enough to be considered for an epidural.

the OB then left for a few minutes so that we could think about it while i continued to double over in agony every 2 minutes. josh and i really didn’t know what to do — it seemed ridiculous to go home while in this much pain and seemingly in REAL labor. i didn’t know what i was supposed to wait FOR!

somehow, something came to my rescue. i’m not sure if it was because the OB realized i was very close friend with one of the perinatology fellows [yes, that would be dr s!] or because i was starting to look just ridiculously miserable, but we were offered a 4th option: walk around triage/L&D for an hour or so and then get rechecked, without getting discharged.

option 4 for the WIN. josh and i started slowly pacing the halls, and he continued to time the contractions. i would walk and be pretty calm for the minute or so between each of them, and then have to stop/hunch down/squat/breathe. for some reason it helped me to focus on the timer app — watching the seconds count down kept me focused on the fact that each wave of pain was going to have a finite end. after about an hour of this, i was rechecked, and had won another precious centimeter. my obvious close-together contractions also earned me a spot on the L&D floor, and then someone said the magic words: “do you want me to call anesthesia for an epidural?”

to be continued!