...Continued from Part I...
So hearing that I was having the baby, this hospital admission, no matter what the state of my cervix, was in a strange way surprising to me.
Once I processed this fact (obvious to everyone but me), I agreed to have my water broken.
Which was easier said than done.
The procedure sounded simple when I had read about it - you put a plastic hook (an amnihook) up through the cervix and nick the amniotic sac, which then empties. Not painful. No big deal. Problem is, the plastic arm on this hook is straight, and my cervix was so not ready for birth that it was still posterior, pointing backwards, not down. So the amnihook needed to bend around the back to enter the cervix, and well...anatomy-wise, this wasn't really happening. So this part of the process, which I thought would be not a big deal, was excruciating. In fact, my heart rate went so high that my doctor had to stop as she was worried that it would imperil Magpie's health. Despite the pain, after about 10 minutes of this torture, the sac was still intact. My OB said she would give me 15 minutes to recover, then try again.
The second try, at 4AM, was just as painful as the first, but she succeeded. My water broke, and was clear. Within minutes the contractions picked up significantly in intensity. And within the hour, I was contracting every 2 minutes, with contractions lasting as long as 1.5 minutes each. I could no longer talk through the contractions. I couldn't walk through the contractions. When one hit, I was lost in it, moaning, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. It would reach a point where I would think it was unbearable, stay that way, and then begin to back off in intensity. I remember needing to use the restroom, but being afraid of getting caught in a standing position during a contraction. It took so long to move the IV pole and all the wires and disconnect me that it seemed like I was always caught somewhere in the middle of this trip. Or stuck on the toilet in pain and alone, not sure when I would be able to make it back out to the main room. Back at my bed, I tried many different positions: Sitting on a birthing ball draped onto the bed, sitting in bed on my knees leaning against the back of the bed, standing at the side of the bed with my hands on the bed. Nothing was really great, but the ball was probably the most doable. Between contractions I would just deflate, head down, exhausted, sleeping between them even if only a few moments, then wake again with the intensity of the next contraction.
We managed like this for a few hours, but by 7 AM, the contractions were coming one on top of the other with really no break in between. I couldn't think, I couldn't use any of the coping strategies I had learned. Hynobabies? Ha! I was lost in these contractions. And when the pain would ease a bit down from unbearable, another contraction would start. The contractions were overlapping at least half of the time. I started to think I couldn't do this.
At around 8:30AM, my OB stopped by and I asked if we could check how things were progressing, that if I had a long way to go, I might need an epidural. She told me she didn't need to check me. That despite the intensity and frequency of my contractions, I was undoubtedly still in very early labor and had many hours to go, but before we could talk longer, another contraction hit. Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, my eyes closed, all consuming, who knows how long it lasted. In this state, there is no sense of time. When the contraction was over and I opened my eyes, she was gone.
When the next contraction hit, I commenced vomiting. And with each new contraction, I retched again. I knew I couldn't continue this for another 12 or more hours. This was not doable. I asked my doula to track down my OB and tell her I needed an epidural.
The anesthesiologist came in to consent me and started giving a long and detailed explanation of risks and benefits during a contraction. Seriously? I testily asked her, "Can you please wait a moment?" Once I could think again, I then asked her to talk fast before the next contraction hit. She waited and then tried again. She got a little into her spiel, and I threw up as the next contraction began. In honesty, the only thing I remember her saying is that I would need to sit still on the edge of the bed for 8-10 minutes. I remember telling her that was not possible. She told me it had to be possible. I remember thinking I would try but that there was 0% chance I could do that. Fortunately during the procedure, I had a rare four-minute space between contractions and she got the epidural in on the first try. Compared to everything else, it was no big deal.
Once the epidural was in, my OB returned and checked me. I was 3 cms dilated and 90% effaced. I remember thinking, Wow - after all of this, that's it? Things were not really proceeding well here. But with the epidural in, at least I was more comfortable. For a while it was great. I wasn't in pain, but I still had full control of my legs. I was able to use a bedpan to urinate, which was hugely important to me, as I really didn't want to be catheterized (my main reason for not wanting an epidural, aside from the fear that it would slow my labor, is that I am almost phobic of urinary catheters).
My OB checked me again at 2:45PM. I had progressed to 100% effaced and 4 cm dilated....with a swollen anterior lip. The baby was still very high and not coming down at all, despite very intense and frequent contractions (that thankfully I couldn't feel very much). My doula suggested the baby was malpositioned and we proceeded to have me do a number of rocking exercises to try to get her to drop into a better placement.
I settled into this new rhythm. Surely I could make Magpie descend into a better position. I could have this baby vaginally if I just tried hard enough.