I bolted up, sprinted to the bathroom at speeds that no pregnant woman should reach, fluid dripping down my leg. “My water broke,” I screamed as I ran. I sat on the toilet and for another few seconds, fluid gushed out. By this time, Italian Stallion had made it to the bathroom, and after only a couple hours of sleep himself, groggily asked if I was sure. I pointed to the trail of water that marked my sprint to the bathroom. I was sure.
Our apartment became a frenzy of activity. “Call the doctor when contractions are five minutes apart or if your water breaks,” we had been told. We called the doctor, and got the answering service, which paged the on call doctor and had her call us. The on call doctor, who I had never met, called and told us to come to the hospital immediately. Apparently, water breaking was a condition that needed to be monitored medically, and I was excited that something was finally happening.
Italian Stallion put the bags in the car, I rushed around aimlessly. We collided in the middle of the living room in one of the most emotional hugs of my life, saying nothing, but yet overwhelmed with love and with the reality of the situation. In that silent hug, we made up for our fight, we let go of our life as just the two of us, and we garnered strength for the task ahead. We took a picture by the front door, a family tradition we had been told to keep, and headed to the car. Italian Stallion drove and videoed as I called our parents and told them the exciting news. They were less than excited about being called at 2:30 am, but told us to keep them posted.
When we arrived at the hospital, we entered through the emergency entrance, as the labor entrance was closed for the night. We were sent to triage where they asked about a hundred unnecessary questions that should have been on my pre-registered, hand delivered a month ahead of time chart. After rattling off my birth date, marital status, blood type, and every other question imaginable (do you want my shoe size, favorite food, list of hobbies and all books read in the last 12 months while you are at it?), we finally got into what I thought was our room.
Wrong again! In this room (triage #2?) I had to change into a buttless hospital gown (miserable), and sit still for 20 minutes to be monitored. My contractions had started by this point, and as any mother knows, it is not easy to sit still in labor, much less for 20 minutes during contractions. A nurse came in and pulled out a huge q-tip. I asked what it was for, and she said “oh, just to check to make sure your water is really broken.”
By this point I was getting annoyed. Make sure my water was broken? Are you kidding me? Either that or my bladder just exploded. There was a puddle of amniotic fluid big enough to swim in at my house, and they weren’t sure my water had broken? Didn’t they go to nursing school?
“Yep, your water has broken,” the nurse confirmed. “Oh really? I am so glad that medical science has the technology to confirm that, because obviously me wetting myself all the way down the hall was not enough,” I thought sarcastically. Apparently, labor doesn’t help those hormones much!
Then we got moved to yet another room, where I was given an IV. I didn’t want an IV. This was not in by birth plan. Didn’t they read my birth plan? I panicked and began trying to remember all the things I needed to make sure happened. No epidural, no episiotomy, no enema, no shaving, no internal monitor, no being confined to bed. I wanted to be able to eat and drink, to move around, to take a shower.
We finally talked the nurse into a hep lock instead of a full IV and started pacing the halls to bring on active labor. We tried to do the Lamaze breathing but I had practiced it, not Italian Stallion, and by about 6 centimeters, I couldn’t spell my name, much less remember complex breathing patterns, so that was worthless. Instead, we paced the halls, logging hundreds of laps of the seventh floor of the hospital. I paced like I could run away from the contractions. I would speed walk between contractions, and stop and lean on the wall during contractions.
At some point I realized I was extremely thirsty (probably from all the exercise). I tried to get a nurse to bring me water, but was informed that water was not allowed during labor, and given ice chips instead. At 6 am after not sleeping at all, and being incredibly thirsty, ice chips were not cutting it. I let them melt and then drank the water.
At this point, I decided to get in the shower. My nice nurse who had been there since we checked in and who was supportive of natural birth was off duty now, and the new nurse was less than supportive. She informed me that the on call doctor had a 12 hour time limit after ROM (rupture of membranes) and wanted patients to be in second stage by then or would discuss a c-section. It is difficult to relax in labor to being with, but being told you are on the clock for a possible c-section does not help matters much.
By this point, I was about eight centimeters and beginning transition. I couldn’t remember my breathing, the shower wasn’t helping, I was vomiting and in the most pain I had ever felt. On top of that, I was a ticking time bomb for a c-section, just because my water had broken. (I found out later that the general rule is 24 hours minimum after water has broken before c-section is considered).
It was early-afternoon by this point, though I as losing track of time. The nurse was talking about pitocin, which I read made contractions ten times worse. I hadn’t slept in 24 hours and did not have the strength to keep fighting the contractions. At the continued urging of the nurse, I opted for the epidural, and after the teeth-grinding experience of having a long needle stuck in my spine, felt much better. Italian Stallion didn’t watch this part, as he doesn’t do needles.
At this point also, we called his mom, who is a nurse practitioner, and asked her to come to the hospital to be our advocate against any other interventions we didn’t want, as we were both too tired to fight anything else. Though his family lived over an hour away, they were there within 45 minutes. To our surprise, not only his mom, but his dad and five siblings arrived as well, and filled up the waiting room.
Italian Stallion’s mom massaged by feet for about an hour (found out later that this also speeds up labor), while Italian Stallion got some much needed rest and called 1-800-555-TELL to check the score of his football team, the Bengals, who were playing their arch rivals, the Steelers, that day. By 3 pm I had gotten the go ahead to push, though at this point, I couldn’t feel my lower body and was stuck on my back. So much for the plan of pushing in whatever position I felt comfortable in!
I pushed for an hour or so with the help of the nurse, not really able to feel much. I had the vague sense that laying flat on my back with my knees tucked into by chin was not the most effective pushing position, but then again, what else could I do when I couldn’t move my legs?
Suddenly, I knew something must be happening, because the nurse pushed a button on the bed and about 15 people I didn’t know rushed into the room. Part of the ceiling pulled down, revealing two huge spot lights, a mirror and a tray full of surgical instruments. I had deja vu of being back in the high school musical, feeling the heat of the spot light blinding me, though I wasn’t half naked with a team of nurses and residents staring at my most intimate parts in that musical!
At that moment, the doctor walked in. Behind the glare of the lights, I saw what I can only describe as an evil version of Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus show. She was wearing tie-dyed scrubs with curly bright orange hair flying everywhere. This was the woman who threatened a c-section. This was the woman who wouldn’t let me have water. I glared at her between pushes.
At some point, evil Miss Frizzle decided I needed an episiotomy (ironic how that happens at 4:30 in the afternoon when she might want to go eat dinner soon), and Bambino slipped into the world from my numb, lacerated, body….
Missed previous parts of the saga? Find them here.