As little miss Emily sleeps soundly next to me I am exhausted, but thankful for my five hours of interrupted sleep last night. It sure as heck beats the two hours I got the night before that didn't occur until four in the morning. Postpartum is going well, but I figured that I'd write a little about how labor and deliver went first. It makes more sense to start from the beginning, doesn't it?
Part I - To the Hospital. And Back.
So, before I went into labor, or actually was probably already in labor and didn't realize it, I had a ridiculously busy day at work. I stress the ridiculous part. People died, people went to the hospital, I was the most experienced RN in the facility. It made for a long long day. By the time I left work, almost two hours after my normal shift is suppose to end, I was beyond exhausted and just started noticing that I had been having slightly regular contractions every fifteen minutes or so.
Must be Braxton Hicks.
I didn't pay much notice to them since I had had several bouts of Braxton Hicks that lasted for hours and were even as close to ten minutes apart before disappearing. Instead, I came home and went about the evening as I normally would, and waited for Shawn to come home from his day shift at the fire station. If I didn't think about it they'd go away, I told myself. After all, I still had almost two weeks left in the pregnancy. No matter how uncomfortable and ready to be 'un-pregnant' I was she would come when I was ready.
Sometime just before Shawn came home I noticed the contractions getting close and maybe a little stronger, but perhaps that was just in my head. When Shawn walked through the door I told him they were about ten or eleven minutes apart. He said the same thing I did.
Must be Braxton Hicks.
After about an hour it was apparent something was different. The contractions grew stronger. I began actually timing them, counting each minute. Before long they were six or seven minutes apart and I was having to concentrate more to get through them, but I still doubted their legitimacy. When suddenly my back began to hurt to the point I had to stand up and bend over like I was trying to touch my toes I started to think that maybe they were the real deal.
It was at that point I was scared and elated and in a heck of a lot of pain.
Like some neurotic person I demanded that we rush around the house and clean as much as possible at that immediate moment. Dishes had to be washed. Laundry done. The floor swept. Bags finished being packed. I was not going to come home from the hospital to a home with dirty clothes and dishes fermenting in the sink. I was a laboring woman on a mission.
Shawn demanded the minute the contractions were eight minutes apart and I kept announcing to him "here comes another one" that I call the mid-wives at the hospital. I refused. Since I was a first time mom the midwives instructed me to wait until the contractions were five minutes apart. It was my irrational duty to wait until I reached that exact point. Plus, part of me was still questioning and in disbelief that this could really be the real thing. ...as I doubled over with the next contraction.
Finally I called the midwives once all the chores were done and my contractions were more like four minutes apart and impossible to speak through. I waited for a contraction to end before calling to allow me the most amount of time to have a conversation before the next one came. Of course as soon as they found the midwife on call and she came to the phone I got four words out after she said hello. "I'm having a contraction."
She patiently waiting for me to breath through it and then we began the conversation. After explaining everything that was going on she gave me the option to either sit at home and wait it out a while or to come in to the hospital and get check out, but prepared to probably go home. I chose the hospital.
As I got in the car the contractions were three to four minutes apart. Shawn ran around turning off lights, grabbing our bags, and taking a handful of Tylenol. At that point it was a little after eight in the evening and it looked like we were going to have a long night ahead of us.
During our drive to the hospital there was a severe thunderstorm passing through the area. Our drive time was doubled, which meant more contractions that I'd have in the car. As lightning brightly danced across the sky, something that normally would have fascinated me, I wanted nothing more than to get there.
Upon reaching the hospital we had a minor argument as to what entrance to park at and being that I was in pain and slightly irrational every few minutes where I wanted to park, the main entrance, was where we did. Unfortunately it was the wrong side of the hospital, a good half a mile away from the birthing center. Shawn calmly found me a wheelchair. Despite my frequent contractions I still felt silly being wheeled. If I wasn't amidst grinding uterine pain I was completely capable of walking, so I told myself.
We went to the fifth floor where all the births happen, but quickly realized that our part of the fifth floor didn't connect with the fifth floor where the birthing center was located. Due to the hospital's weird design and being built on a hill we were in the clinical office side of the building, not the patient care side. That meant a dead end, lots of stairs, and walking during twenty minutes worth of contractions. Shawn pointed out every single time I complained and began to hold back cries during contractions in the hallway that we parked where I wanted. I may or may not have flipped out and yelled at him.
Finally, by the grace of God, we reached the birthing pavilion. I was wheeled in to a triage room where they hooked me up to a fetal heart monitor and took a set of vital signs. Immediately I was thrusted back to my clinical days during nursing school, only this time I was a patient. Eventually the midwife and a wide-eyed intern came in to assess me. After telling me I was 2-3cm dilated and 60% effaced the midwife turned the conversation towards going home and how to labor the best there. She never told me directly I wasn't staying there, but rather just went right to talking about how I'd know when to come back and expect things to get a lot stronger.
Seriously? You want me to go home, sit through these, and have them get stronger?
I was trying to hold back tears, half from pain and half from disappointment. While she assured me I was in labor she kept adding words in like 'long night' and 'pain coping strategies.' I did not like anything that she was saying. Neither did Shawn. He had a look of fear since he didn't want to fathom how things could get even more painful. After they undid the fetal monitor and helped me off the bed I walked to the nurses station to be handed paperwork on 'when to call the hospital during labor.' The nurses and intern were there, smiling, and said "We'll see you later!"
...they had know idea how right they were.