I walked over to the sink and started to wash my hands. Yup…my hair still looked good. I couldn’t believe it. I was gonna have the baby. The day was here…I am not leaving this hospital until this baby is born. I smiled at myself. I would have another son. I reached over to grab a towel, and all of a sudden, I felt a warm gush of fluid.
“Are you kidding me!?” I said aloud and looked down at my pants.
I snatched at the paper towel machine…waving beneath the censor frantically…grabbing as many as the gray box would spit out at me. I quickly pulled up my green dress that was acting like a tunic over my enormous bump and looked to see if my pants were soaked. I expected everything from my thighs to my ankles to be soaked. Confusion set in. It didn’t seem that bad. It was comparable results to a big sneeze. I went back into the stall to assess the situation before heading back to meet Jeremy.
“Jer.” He was still looking down at the paperwork he had to fill out.
“Jerrr.” I slurred his name into three syllables in order to get his attention.
“uh huh?” Still looking down.
“Umm…I think my water might have broken. I’m not really certain.” I could hear the crazy in that statement.
“What?” He finally looked up.
“Nevermind. I don’t know. Let’s go.”
“Wait.” He was now confused too.
“I don’t know honey. I think it might have. This would only happen to someone like me…that I wait two weeks…that I work for a month to get this baby to come out…and the moment we are checking into the hospital that my body decides it’s time. It’s ridiculous.” He could see the frustration in my face. the confusion. the tiredness. He put his arm around me and didn’t say anything. He just knew that it wouldn’t help to talk right now.
Our hospital delivery room was really quite large. I changed into my gown and waited patiently for the nurse. Jeremy and I passed those silent moments with our phones in our hands…sharing snapshots online…our thoughts filling the room. I hoped my mom could remember how to work her phone to see the pictures. I hoped Will was alright. I hoped he wasn’t too rowdy or disobedient. He probably didn’t even realize we were gone with Cole there by his side. My brain ran with each rabbit trail.
My nurse finally arrived and gave me the run down. She would have to hook me up to an IV….she needed me to repeat all the general information from my previous birth….she would have to hook me up to continuous monitoring because this would be a VBAC. Then she asked if I was having any contractions. Yes. Yes, I was. And I think my water broke about thirty minutes ago.
I told her the situation. I explained why I was confused. She seemed to understand.
The following hour revolved around determining whether or not my water had in fact broken and if the baby was in the right position. In the end, the little blue stick stated YES…it was amniotic fluid…not pee. And yes, the baby was head down and sunny side up. I was officially in labor.
Shift change brought in a different nurse. I remembered from Will’s birth that different nurses could be the best thing ever and I crossed my fingers that the new nurse would be exactly what I needed. That is when Colette walked in.
Colette was a beautiful middle aged black woman with a short haircut and delicate gold bracelets on her wrist. She was thin and gentle looking and spoke with a island accent. I immediately loved her. She always gave way too much information. I would ask a simple question…sometimes not even realizing what I wanted to know…and her matter-of-fact way of talking and the strings of answers that came from her soothed me. She talked about my doctor, the situation, his general procedures with girls attempting a vaginal birth after a caesaren. I could feel myself calming internally with each word.
I asked her outright…”So since my water broke, does that mean that I still have to be induced?”
“We will ask your doctor. For now, we will monitor the contractions to see if they progress. I’ll come back in about ten minutes with more info.”
I got out of bed and started pacing the four steps that my IV and monitors strapped to my belly would allow. Back and forth. Back and forth. The non-slip hospital socks felt like stones in my feet and I desperately wanted them off. My sweet sister had arrived with her husband and they brought a giant bag of peanut M&M’s and a two liter of soda for Jeremy. For the next two hours, my contractions continued. But I could tell something was off.
Colette came in with an update a little later. She told me that Dr. Tate had been monitoring my contractions on the computer but they were very slowly progressing. Basically he would let this happen on it’s own but if by morning nothing picked up, I would need to have the Pitocin.
It was just the news I wanted. I could at least try. I asked Colette if he said anything about the monitors. I needed to walk if the contractions had any chance of getting more intense and being tethered to a four step track didn’t help. She said she had asked that already and he said I could walk the halls. Everything in me rejoiced. Finally I had found a doctor that wanted me to give my body a chance before telling me that I couldn’t do it. I turned to Jeremy and said “Let’s go!”
The socks were immediately ripped off my feet and I was ready for walking.
The first hour passed. and the second. the third. fifth. and around 3:30 am, I told Jeremy that it would be nice to take a little break. I laid down for my ten minutes of monitoring and closed my eyes hoping that my contractions would wake me back up and hoping at the same time they would let me sleep just for one hour.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEEEEP.
My eyes shot open. What happened?! What was going on? Did I really just fall asleep? I pulled my phone up and saw that my alarm was going off for 5 am.
“Jer. Jeremy…we need to keep going. C’mon.” He looked exhausted. But I didn’t care. I needed to make progress. I needed to work. This was it and an hour and a half sleep was just enough to get me going. I swung my bare feet back onto the hospital floor….shuffling over to him. He stirred.
“C’mon honey…the contractions…they stopped….and I need to get them going again. Pleeese. please get up and come with me.” I pushed my IV stand towards the door. He grunted and stretched his head to one side.
Our same pace continued. We pushed on. Every now and then I would stop and reach for him…rocking back and forth as I relaxed into a contraction. But they were all the same. Nothing bigger and nothing closer together. It was as if my body was the pace car and all the other girls walking the halls were in the race of their lives. I felt defeated. Like my own body had won…and I couldn’t change a thing about it.
Five hours of walking passed.
Finally we went back to our room. Dr. Tate had called. The contractions didn’t pick up. The news was bittersweet. It was time for what I came there for. It was time for the induction. The good news was that I had complete peace about it. Afterall, my water did break on it’s own. My body and the baby were ready. And I had been given every chance. I got to walk in the halls…not strapped to a machine…not lying in bed. I was able to see how far my body could go…and the fact of the matter was, even ten hours of walking didn’t push me hard enough. I knew I needed that boost. My engines were dead.
Colette was sweet. She explained the way the Pit drip would work. It was going to be slow. I was going to be on the bed until it was time to deliver so I would need to get comfortable. I hung on her every syllable. They set up the bag and the waiting game started.
The first few hours didn’t feel any different than before. As long as I was laying down, the contractions seemed to disappear. At 10am they started the drugs and they said I probably would start feeling it around 2 in the afternoon. Two oclock came and went. It started getting more intense but it wasn’t exactly painful yet. Then around four, it began to get really hard really fast. My contractions were right on top of one another…giving me only thirty seconds inbetween for a break. I thought surely this is it. My sister had returned and brought with her a needed hand to hold and a a breathing partner. We googled the stages of labor. This has to be transition I thought to myself silently. I had to be at least a 7. Afterall, I came in at 2 cm…at least that’s what I was days before at an appointment. And I’ve dilated before. I gone through this with Will and this time everything was way more intense.
Finally it was 6pm. The resident came in with Colette. The resident was young and tall with dirty blond hair and started talking right away.
“Well Katie, we have just gotten a call from Dr. Tate and he wants us to check you.”
I started to feel excited. He might think I’m ready! This is the first time anyone has checked me since I got here and surely I made a lot of progress. I began to feel like a child in school who was ready to hand in homework.
“Okay!” I said with a smile. I grabbed Jer’s hand a little tighter and scooted my knees up toward my chest.
“We’ll wait for the next contraction and we’ll check you then. That’s how Dr. Tate wants it.” She smiled.
I looked at Jer. Trying to match my breathing to his and to relax into the next wave of pain.
“hmm….definitely a four.” The resident snapped her rubber glove and my heart dropped. It felt like time stood still for an hour.
“A FOUR!?” What is this? A joke? A horrible mean joke? I know a four! I didn’t go into the hospital with Will until I was a four! And this was not that. I had to be farther along. I just had to be.
“Yes. I will call the Doctor back and tell him.” She started to turn towards the door.
“Jeremy…jeremy…” I started to cry. My mouth dropped open so that I could breathe but even that was hard.
“Katie…you need something. It’s okay. I am here. But you need something for this pain. This is so different.” His voice of reason was smooth and deep. I could see it in his eyes that my pain was too much for him too. “Please Katie. Just ask the doctor.”
My mind raced. I had gone so long. But not far. It went back to my moments with Will. The time where I leaned onto Jeremy’s shoulders and looked into his blue eyes. I raced back to that day when I realized how much Jeremy loved me and how he would take anything for me. How he would never ask me to do something I didn’t want to do. And that’s the moment I knew that here and now, he was asking me to be brave enough to ask for help.
“ok….yes…..Colette….please….is there any way I could talk to the doctor too? I think I need something.”
A brief conversation on the phone with the doctor followed. I asked about an epidural. Did it reduce my chances at all of a VBAC? Was there a better choice? How much longer did I have?
Dr. T answered everything I needed to know. I was going to need drugs for the pain…and I needed them now.
The anesthesiologist worked fast. He was in with his assistant in the next five minutes. Then Colette gave us some bad news….Jeremy would have to leave. My source of steadfastness…my strength and calm would be gone. I started to feel my freak out coming. Colette immediately started talking…
“I will be here. I will hold you. We will be fast. Now sit up and swivel over here.” The next moments went by in a blur. I cringed. I hunched over. I felt the contraction coming on. I grabbed Colette’s shirt….her lapel pin pinched inbetween my thumb and forefinger. I could feel myself pulling too hard on her nurses shirt but I couldn’t stop….finally, the doctor behind me said to lay on my side. I slid into the pillow…instantly feeling the washing over of relaxation.
All was well…all was calm….
Jeremy came back in and I had a smile to greet him. He rushed over and held my hands. He had made the right decision to say what I needed. He knew that I needed permission to say what I wanted. That my pride was too strong…and that my will was too great to give in…but I needed to. I needed to surrender. I needed to rest and relax and to get ready for the end. That’s what is important here. I had to remind myself that the end goal was not to get through without drugs…the end goal was to have a healthy baby and healthy mom…and then I wanted a VBAC next. Drugs didn’t matter. I wouldn’t get a crown in heaven for a drug-free labor.
Over the course of the next three hours, my water broke fully…soaking the entire bed….my body rested…I slept for an hour and I relished the pain-free progression. There was still enormous amounts of pressure but the pain was gone. The epidural had to be adjusted a little because I could still feel a lot on one side but the searing agony was not there. It was so sweet.
And then Doctor Tate arrived. He walked in with a smile on his face and his street clothes on. He pulled on a rubber glove and told me that he was gonna check me. The new resident was there. She was my favorite of the residents I had met….and I couldn’t feel anything as they moved my dead legs up and chatted about my progress from the monitoring.
“Okay….you hold one leg like this” Dr. Tate said to Jeremy as he pulled up my foot to rest on his hip. “And you…are you going to help or what?!” He motioned to my sister.
Lori popped up and ran over. I could tell she was excited to be there and be given instructions.
“Katie, you are gonna hook your arms under your knees and pull them up to your chest. Push down and breathe.” He was telling me to push! I couldn’t believe it. I was ready?! It was time?! I had progressed the rest of the way?! I felt my heart beat faster and faster….I could tell the adreneline was rushing through to my head and my smile was stretched all the way to its limits. I did exactly what he said and pushed as hard as I could. It felt exhilarating!
“Um…um…I’m gonna have to go.” Lori looked down at me with a white face.
“Are you alright?” I asked as I sucked in a relaxing breath.
“uhhh….yeah…I just gotta go. the smell….” she looked pale, let go of my leg and started turning toward the door.
Lori took two steps toward the door and I laughed. I joked after her….”Lori, that’s the smell of life!”
I saw her round the curtain out of view before I heard a scuffle and a bang. Next thing we knew, a nurse yelled….
“SHE’S DOWN! She’s DOWN!”