“C’mon. You gotta see it. It’s huge.” I read the books…this was not ‘quarter-sized’…this sucker could have kept the Titanic from sinking. And Jeremy knew that he wasn’t gonna get to walk away now. I had him cornered.
“Fine.” He looked at what I held out and then looked back at my face. “Wow.” He said it completely void of emotion.
“yeah. I know.” I was actually surprised that he didn’t ask for a divorce right then and there. Or at least a separation. Or marriage counseling. At the very least a late night phone call to Delilah to get some on-air radio advice about being married to a crazy pregnant woman.
My single thought about this man was that he must really love me. Immediately in my heart I forgave him for not answering my phone call earlier that day. It was so easy to love him. It was so easy to imagine my baby boy being exactly like him. It was enough to make me crave my next crampy feeling.
Later that night, my mom and dad stopped by again to check on my progress. They told me that they just wanted to hang out…but I knew that my mom was anticipating a flood that rivaled Katrina’s aftermath. But my fluids all stayed intact. The cramps, however, continued. They continued as my dad assembled the mobile over the crib. They continued as I straightened my hair. They continued as I chugged glasses of water and frequently visited my favorite porcelian pot.
“Honey…why don’t we time the contractions?” my mom asked softly.
“Because they aren’t anything…it won’t make any difference. I won’t be one of those girls that goes into the hospital the night before she is going to be induced only to find out that I am not dialating…it would be embarrassing.” I tried to argue with her while breathing through the contraction. These cramps were happening closer together but the intensity hadn’t changed. It still seemed like nothing more than a regular day with Mother Nature.
“Well, according to my watch, they are about two to five minutes apart. And it’s been that way for the past hour. When do you plan on going in?”
“When my water breaks.” I answered bluntly. A fierce cramp seized my belly. I tried to focus all my attention on my breathing while leaning up against the door jam. My mother reached over to rub my shoulder as I inhaled deeply. “Pray mom. Please pray.” I begged her.
“Lord, thank you for this unborn child. We praise you for allowing Katie to go into labor…”
“NO! Not like that!” I interupted, “Don’t pray for the baby. Pray for little things. Thank him for butterflies and birds. Be creative!” Didn’t she understand that I needed a diversion? Why the heck would you bring up the baby now?! While I am suffering through this contraction? That’s not a distraction! That’s salt in my wound, woman!
She just chuckled in amazement. She obviously didn’t fully understand why I was asking prayer for insects. But she tried anyway…”Thank you Lord for butterflies and birds. Thank you for the beauty in your world.” The cramp subsided. It was obvious that I needed to go to bed. I was getting crankier by the minute.
“Mom…we are just gonna head to bed. The induction is scheduled for 5 am…which is in, like, 5 hours…so we better get some rest. We’ll see you at the hospital…and if anything happens before then, we’ll call. ok?” I wanted to just curl up in my covers and close my eyes. I wanted to be able to spoon with Jeremy and feel his arm against my cheek. I wanted to just make the next five hours fly by so that I didn’t need to give another thought about the Pitocin and how it makes things more painful.
We said our goodbyes and started getting ready for bed. Jeremy started double-checking the car to make sure that everything was ready for our early morning departure. He started doing his night-time routine…tidy things up, check. doors, check. lights, check. change, wash, brush, check, check, check. I sat in the bedroom watching him in awe. He was such a caregiver. Such a servant. Such a good provider. I had really married up. I continued to dwell on what a good man he was as I went to the bathroom for the millionth time. And that’s when it hit me.
No, it wasn’t my water breaking. It was a very bad case of the chills.
I was completely freezing from head to toe. My jaw started chattering like a jackhammer. There was no way to control it. It was so unexpected, so startling, that I didn’t know how to react. And that unknown was scary. I hadn’t heard of anyone suddenly becoming frozen during labor…did this mean something was wrong?! Jeremy came over and realized that something was not right with me instantly. I explained that I was very cold and couldn’t stop shaking…but I think that the fear in my face was more of a concern with him than my temperature. He rubbed my shoulders and held me close but I still couldn’t warm up. The two minutes that I shivered in his arms felt like two hours. That’s when I thought…it’s time. Let’s go to the hospital.
Jeremy only hesitated for a half second before realizing that I was serious. It was go time!
As we arrived at the hospital, the labor & delivery floor was empty except for a dozen nurses chatting in their station. I was escorted into a room to change into a hospital gown and wait to be shown into a laboring room. Jeremy was on the phone with his dad – letting him know that we went ahead into the hospital and that we would have more information soon. Since it was 3 am our nurses decided that I should be given a permanent labor room and checked to see if I started dialating.
This was the moment. The moment where I was convinced the nurse would look up from beneath my hospital gown to tell me that nothing was happening. The moment where I was going to be labeled “false laborer”.
“You have done a lot of work today. You are 4 cm and 70% effaced.”
I was shocked. What an amazing gift! I was going to be induced only 2 hours from now! And this meant only one thing…my baby was ready. My baby was not being forced from his ripe and thick home to enter the world! My baby was coming on his own accord. My heart was full. It was enough to make me welcome with a smile the next contraction.
During my own personal joyfest, I had one nurse insert an IV and hook me up to a bag of fluids while the other nurse strapped monitors to my midsection to listen to the fetal heartbeat and to see my contractions. The main nurse explained to me that she was going to be on duty only for a couple more hours and that I would need to be hooked up to the monitors at least 15 minutes of every hour. All I could think was about how I would cope with laying in that bed for 15 minutes. Every moment on my back felt three times longer than it actually was. It wasn’t a surprise…I knew that being in bed would be my least favorite part of labor. But I also knew that it was manditory…no amount of whining would get me outta this one. I was stuck…both literally and figuratively.
“So how long do I have? Like till the I get fully dialated?” I had a million questions but the only thing I wanted to know was the extent that I would have to wait till I was face to face with my little lovechild.
“Well, every labor is different. But in general, there is an algarhythm that we go by…every centimeter of dialation takes about 1 to 2 hours.” The nurse said before turning to check the monitors.
My mom, who had arrived at this point, excitedly grabbed my hand and said “Katie – that means you’ll definitely have the baby by 3 in the afternoon!” Her smile was taking up her whole face. Today she was going to become a grandmother all over again. Her excitement was pouring out of her eyesockets.
The next three hours flew by. The contractions continued and our plan of attack was to change activities every hour. It seemed to be working. We walked around the labor & delivery floor. We pulled out the labor ball. We plugged up our ipod with our labor song playlist. We visited the waiting room. We pushed Cole around on my IV cart. We visited with arriving friends and family members.
The most comfortable way for me to get through each contraction was actually just hugging Jeremy. Leaning my head on his shoulder and having my arms wrapped around his neck gave me a sense of calm. And I loved being able to share the burden of my body with the man that I loved.
Six in the morning arrived and with it came a shift change in the nurses. My main nurse was named Amirah…I called her Amy for short. She was a tall black girl that had her head of dark hair wrapped up in a bun with a beautiful piece of fabric. The wrap was perfect for her complexion. It made her big dark eyes even warmer and next to her face, her mocha colored skin glowed. When she entered the room, the first thing she did was come over to me as I laid in the bed and ask if it was okay to have a student nurse in the room as I labored. I had heard that sometimes this was a possibility and I was thrilled to nod yes. Amy then introduced me to Faith. Faith was older than what I imagined the typical student nurse. She had a maturity in her eyes that gave me a peaceful feeling. And when she came over and talked about her own children, I immediately liked her.
I reveled in the happiness that I had such personable nurses especially since I knew that these would be in the room more often than any doctor. Plus, it seemed like they both were supportive of my efforts to ‘go natural’ with my labor. And that additional support ran me over with gratefulness. It actually made it easy to thank the nurses each time they came in to the room or gave me instructions.
When my new nurses settled in, I was bursting to do one thing…get in the tub. I had always dreamed of laboring in water. The only thing standing in my way was getting back in bed and being monitored. After the 15 minutes of struggling in the bed, Amy said that she would check me and then we would be able to get ready for the water-labor.
“I would say you are a 5/6. So you are progressing slowly but it shouldn’t be a problem.” She said matter of factly.
Ok. Ok. That’s sortof what the previous nurse said would happen. I tried to remember the formula and do the math with the pain of the contraction. I decided to not overanalyze. Just focus on the here and now. Focus on the contraction. Focus on my breathing. Focus on the tub.
The process to get ready was tedious. Faith and Amy wrapped my IV with a plastic bag and tape and ran to get me several towels. As I stepped into the warm water, the feeling of relaxing literally washed over me. The water rose above my shoulders and my muscles melted into the back of the tub. I felt like I could finally breathe.
“Jeremy, will you hit the button again?” the jets had shut off taking with them my sense of calm and peace.
He needed to sleep. He had stayed up all night with me and was fading. Jeremy reached up and pushed the button to get the engines started again. The gurgle of the jets began and I shifted my weight to get the bubbles on the sorest part of my back. Jeremy sunk his head into his hands and rested momentarily. He didn’t get to relax very long before we heard a knock on the bathroom door.
“Katie, your doctor – Dr. Hood, came by to see you but since you were in the tub, he decided that he would come back after you finished. ok?” Amy asked like I had a say in the matter.
“Ok. thank you!” I peeked out the open door. The clock indicated that it was already 8 am! I can’t believe that I’ve been here already for 5 hours! It seems like it flew by! I am doing it…I am really doing it!
The time for the tub came to an end really soon as I climbed out to get back in the prison of a bed. But I didn’t realize that this time, I had a surprise waiting for me. As soon as I was strapped in, Faith came to me and said that her instructor was a midwife and if it was alright with me, that she would get her to see if she had any labor advice.
“Really?!” I had originally signed up for a midwife but the doctor’s office had to cancel their midwifery practice because of the economy. This opportunity was unbelievable! I knew that Jeremy was exhausted and having new blood in the room would be revitalizing…both mentally and physically. “Yes…I’d love that!”
The midwife had more than supportive advice…she actually came down and spent the next half hour in the room…helping me as I labored in that bed. Her tips and advice were great. Push here, lay here, breathe like this, relax here, rub this…it seemed like she had known me my entire life and knew exactly what I needed to conserve my energy while still focusing my efforts.
“You are doing amazing!” She complimented me. “You are doing everything right. You are relaxing very well through each contraction. Make sure you do your cleansing breath. And if something seems to be working, keep doing it.”
I followed her advice to the letter. Each time that a contraction felt like it was about to begin, I sucked in deeply and focused my full energy on breathing slowly and deeply. In my mind, I began visualizing my toes relaxing, then my feet, then my ankles, my calves, all the way up to my eyebrows…everything was forced into a lazy place of relaxation. The only part that wouldn’t submit was my hips. It felt like all my pain and frustration was coming to a head right inside my hip flexors.
“Rub my hips!” I said over and over to Jeremy & my little sister. Their fingers would dig in below my hip bones forcing them into submission. My head tossed back and forth. Finally the contraction would end and I opened my eyes to see them smiling at the fact that I got through another one.
It went like this for the rest of the morning. I was at 4 centimeters at 3 am. I was at 5/6 at 6 am. At 9 am I was at 6/7 cm. Then at 2pm I was at 7/8 cm. With such slow progress, I decided that maybe I would benefit from another dip in the tub. I called Amy into the room and we started the process of getting everything water-tight and me undressed. I hadn’t been in the warm bubbly water very long when I got the news that the doctor was coming and he wanted to check me.
Although I was disappointed in getting out of the relaxing water, I hadn’t actually seen my doctor yet. As I climbed onto the table and got strapped back into the monitors, Jeremy held my hand reminding me that maybe the doc would think I was progressing farther along than the nurse.
Dr. Hood entered the room in a hurry. He came over and greeted us and I was immediately reminded why other patients had warned us of him. He had a very salty bedside manner.
“Let’s check you…” He sat in the chair at the end of my bed. Jeremy squeezed my hand as Dr. Hood pulled out what looked like a knitter’s hook.
“I’m gonna need a towel.” My brain ran wild. Like a grazing gazelle who suddenly spotted a predator. Panic set in. Why the heck did he say that? Nobody else needed a towel to check me…
Suddenly I realized what was happening. At the same moment, the hook was being inserted and Amy said “He’s going to break your water…”
I didn’t hear her. All I could focus on was closing my legs and saying “WHOA!!! Whoa Whoa Whoa!”
My heart was beating a mile a minute. Why was this happening? There was no discussion. No explanation. No warning.
“Can we talk about this for a second?” I couldn’t believe what was happening. I thought I had made my birth plan very clear…let’s try natural…let’s try. If it doesn’t work or I don’t want to continue…we can quit…but until then…let’s try.
The Doc stood up in a hurry clearly agitated by the interuption. He huffed over to the trash can while ripping off his gloves. The snap of the latex and the swish of the trash bag were the only sounds in the room.
“You need to think about how long you are going to let this continue.” He said firmly. He continued talking but I couldn’t continue listening through my frustration. Why wasn’t he apologizing? Why didn’t he explain things before he tried to stab my babies watery bubble? This is wrong. This is very very wrong.
I barely processed the situation as the doctor stormed out of the room. As the door was shutting, Jeremy angrily cursed. His opinion of the doctor was clear to everyone in the room.
“JEREMY!” I couldn’t believe he cursed! What if the doctor heard? What if he held it against us? I looked up at the nurses for an answer. Any answer would be nice. Any explanation. Any support. Faith was the first to speak…
“You are right. He shouldn’t have done that.”