**Warning: Boring/anatomically correct details ahead. If you are related to me in a Father-in-law-ish capacity, please, abandon reading this post, ASAP!
With my first two deliveries, I opted for an epidural at the first sign of labor and I never felt any discomfort at all. The babies came after several hours of relaxing and chatting with friends, and only after the doctor informed me that it was time to push.
I fully intended to repeat this pattern with any future deliveries, until it so happened with my third, that I got to the hospital thinking I might be in labor and had a baby less than 2 hours later. I was devastated by the pain, but there was no time for any anesthesia. Once I recovered from the shock of it all, I realized that the only difficult part came after the doctor ruptured my membranes, and that only lasted for about 15 minutes before the baby was born.
I figured that I could handle 15 minutes of pain and that it would be worth it just to avoid having someone stick a sharp metal object into my spine. I had actually had to be sedated just to get my first epidural!
For the next 3 deliveries, I prepared myself mentally to handle the short period of intense pain and I managed without any anesthesia. I didn't say I managed well. I just managed. Right at the end I always ended up screaming, "I CAN'T DO IT!!!" After it was over, though, I always wished I would have hung in there with a little more confidence because that period of panic was always so short and then before I knew it I would be holding my baby.
Since this had been such a predictable pattern for me, I fully expected a repeat this time. Boy, was I wrong!
All through the night, Wednesday the 5th, I was having regular contractions 3-5 minutes apart. I got up several times to time them, but always went back to bed because they never increased in intensity.
The next morning, Thursday, I mentioned it to my husband, and he said he would be expecting a call later that it was "time". The contractions continued all morning, and I decided that I'd better get a few things done and get on to the hospital. I made lunch for the kids, arranged for babysitting, and called my husband.
We assured the babysitter that we would call her with the exciting news sometime that evening and that she needn't worry about making it to her college classes the next morning because my husband would be home long before then. HAH!
On the hour drive to the hospital, though, my contractions slowed WAAAAY down for the first time since the night before. We wondered what that meant, but decided we'd better go on to the hospital anyway.
We realized neither one of us had eaten lunch, and since I knew that I would only be getting ice chips once I was admitted, I thought I should get something before we got there. We talked about going through a fast food drive through, and then my husband came up with the most fantastic idea he has had in a long time.
Since my contractions had slowed down, why didn't we stop at a real, honest to goodness restaurant once we got to the big city? Why didn't we, indeed! We hadn't been out alone together for a meal since Valentine's Day.
The waitress was friendly and asked when I was due. I told her I was in labor right then and we were expecting to have the baby in just a few hours. Again, in hindsight, HAH! comes to mind.
Anyway, we enjoyed our meal and each other's company and figured we might as well go next door to Barnes and Noble before we headed to the hospital to have the baby, you know, in just a few hours.
We made it to the hospital around 1:30 and got settled in. One of the nurses checked me and said she would consider me 4 1/2 or 5. Huh? I was expecting to hear a much higher number, but my contractions had picked back up and I still figured I was getting closer.
We walked the halls and I requested a birth ball to bounce on, thinking that would do the trick. We had seen on the news that the weather would be turning ugly over the weekend with sleet, freezing rain, and snow. We commented that it was sure a good thing this baby was well on its way so we wouldn't be rushing to the hospital in an ice storm.
By the time the doctor came to see me, it was almost 7:00. He examined me and said that I hadn't changed a bit since he had examined me in his office at my regular appointment. I was still a 4 after regular, close contractions through most of the night before and that day!
I was devastated! I thought for sure that I would do a repeat of Jaynee's experience from this comment and be a 7 by then. The doctor said that, all things considered, I was not in true labor because my dilation hadn't changed. He told us we had a decision to make. Go back home and wait some more, or we could stay and he would induce me.
There he was, along with two nurses, looking at us, waiting for our decision. My husband looked at me and said it was up to me. My head was spinning. How could I not have progressed at all? What about the ice storm that was coming? What if we had to rush to the hospital in that weather? How in the world was I ever going to determine when it was the "real thing"?
To be continued...
Go here for part 2.
Go here for part 3.