If you're curious: Part 1, Part 2
It's freezing cold and the air is crisp as we head to the hospital. I should note that getting my boots and shoes on was a total fiasco, what with contractions, water retention and my massive belly. I manage to get into the front seat and steel myself for an ugly car ride.
And ugly it is. With Dave driving and the doulas in their cars, I'm dealing with the contractions alone and it's not fun. In addition, I am feeling immense downward pressure while seated, and I'm effectively...ahem...'one-cheeking' it through each contraction. Happily, the hospital is only 7 km from our house. Dave drops me at the entrance and where Shannon and Zoia are already waiting for me. I insist on walking to the L&D ward, up a huge flight of stairs. I have to stop several times for contractions, which Shannon talks me through. Our progress is so slow that Dave manages to catch up with us after parking the car and hauling in all our stuff. At 6 a.m. exactly, we get to the L&D triage, where Ann is waiting.
Ann gets me settled on the same bed I was on several hours before. She's alone, which is unusual, as her student Erin is almost always with her. I discover later that, thinking this would be a consult regarding painkillers, Ann hadn't called Erin allowing Erin to sleep longer. She hooks me up to a monitor to check out my contractions and goes to check paperwork.
The contractions are just as intense as before, but still 6 or 7 minutes apart. Zoia talks me through them, and I can hear the monitor registering them. This is the only time I'll be on the monitor, actually. After about 15 minutes of monitoring (which seems like about 5 minutes), Ann comes with the doppler to monitor the baby's heart rate. This is where things get interesting.
The baby had been left occiput anterior for weeks, so Ann places the doppler on my left hand side, at hip level. Zoia and Shannon exchange significant glances as Ann shifts the doppler all the way to my middle and down way past my bikini line. Then, Ann asks if I'd like to be checked. I really need to know where I stand (not having picked up on the glance between the doulas) so I whole-heartedly agree.
So - Ann begins the check. I brace myself, expecting to hear "2 cm" and the subsequent discussion of interventions. Ann makes a surprised face and lets out an excited puff of air. "Wow!" she exclaims. "Sarah, you're at least 7.5 cm and 100% effaced.AND - there's still an amniotic sac around the baby's head; he's not even resting on your cervix yet!" I am absolutely gobsmacked. Ann checks again during a contraction; I have a bit of an anterior lip, but everywhere else I am at 8 cm.
"Ann," I keep saying, "I cannot believe this. Seriously, this is like a dream. I can't believe that I'm this far along."
"Believe it!" Ann exclaims. "We can admit you, break that amniotic sac and you can head into the tub."
And that's just what we do. I head into the room in which I'll spend the next 24 hours, and get into a gown. I hop on the bed, Ann breaks out the amnio hook and breaks the remaining membrane. In the meantime, Zoia is running hot water into the tub. Once it's ready, I hop in. It's about 6:30 a.m.
While in the tub, the contractions get more intense but they're much more manageable. The doulas suggest that we put on relaxing music; Dave and I had programmed a classical playlist on his ipod for just such a time. EXCEPT - he hits 'random' and EVERY song, it seems, starts with screeching violins which bounce off the tile walls. The doulas take pity on me and bust out their CD of 'spa sounds', which must be soothing because I really don't remember it.
In order to cope with the contractions, Shannon talks me through. She suggests getting a onesie so that I can 'focus on the baby' but as awful as this sounds, it's the last thing I want. I need to focus on Shannon's face and on breathing, as I realize that there's no way around the pain but through.
It's hospital policy that bloodwork get taken once a labouring woman is admitted. Unfortunately, this means that I have to have blood drawn while in transition. Ann tries three times to get a good vein but nothing doing. She brings in a nurse (whose name is either Julie or Nathalie); she hits a vein and draws several vials. I have two contractions during this time...what a treat!
During this time in the tub, I only have two contractions on top of each other. As the time goes on and the water gets cooler, I start having an OVERWHELMING urge to push. I insist on getting out of the tub, because I cannot stand to be lying down. Shannon and Zoia caution me that I can't push until Ann checks me, but Ann says that since my cervix is so ripe I can do a few test pushes. I sit down on the toilet and try. After three, I head to the bed for a check.
Ann comments on how calm I am during checks; they aren't fun, but they aren't all that bad. According to her, I am nearly 10 cm dialated; I have an anterior lip where I'm only 9.5. She suggests that I lie on both my left and right sides for 3 contractions each with no pushing. This proves INCREDIBLY difficult, but I get through. Ann checks again - the lip is nearly gone and she suggests I push through it while she holds it back. As much as that sucks, it only takes three pushes and I am cleared to actually start pushing in earnest. It's just after 8 a.m.