The nurse on duty finally arrived and buzzed us in, informing us that we would have to check in before I could be officially admitted. I was prepared for this, with all my paper work filled out, signed, and a copy of my insurance card. I wasn't about to sit around trying to remember my social security number while contractions were wracking my body. A very nice orderly showed up in minutes with a wheelchair (hospital protocol) and I gratefully took a seat still clutching my pillow. He wheeled me down the hall to the elevators, Kris is tow, carrying the hospital bag and an ever-calm demeanor.
I arrived at Labor and Delivery and was shown to my room (#3) where the night nurse, Tricia, hooked me up to a variety of machines and asked me several thousand questions about my health, like had I happened to do crack, cocaine, meth, or heroine at any point in my life. I felt like telling her I was seriously thinking about doing all four at that moment and could we just get this show on the road thankyouverymuch. After she confirmed that I was in labor, FOR REAL, as opposed to just pretending, she put in the IV, got my antibiotics flowing, informed me I was in for a long night and to just let her know when I was ready for pain medication. Then she left. Left me in the room with my very tired husband and my dear friend, Amanda, and a Ben Stiller movie on TV. That last bit wasn't in the birth plan.
At this point I was only dilated to 3cm. Let me tell you just how disappointed I was to hear that. I was hoping for at least 6cm but at 3cm I knew that things were going to get a lot worse before they got better and they were going to take their sweet time doing it.
For the most part I could still carry on a conversation during my contractions and once a contraction passed I was able to feel relatively normal and rested. Tricia came in several times and shared some information that wasn't a part of any pregnancy book I had read, like how I was going to "bleed like a garden hose", then she got me set up with these awesome mesh underpants, something that you might find in the Geriatric Fredrick's of Hollywood. Add that to the awesome hospital gown I was wearing and I was the perfect picture of FRUMP. That's another thing they don't tell you about labor, how you are stripped of any shred of dignity or modesty and your inability to control any part of your body. It was a humbling experience and one that I was completely unprepared for.
After about two hours, Tricia told me that it would be good for me and my labor if I got up and walked around. The first time out, Kris accompanied us but the second time around Amanda and I left an exhausted Kris on the hide-a-bed and hit the hallways which some forward-thinking genius had outfitted with railings. Let me just say I got to know those railings really really well. Each time a contraction hit I would stagger over to one of those mahogany-colored dowels and hold on to it for dear life while rocking back and forth. I was focusing on my breathing, deep breaths in through the nose and out the mouth. It seemed to be working fairly well and Amanda was doing a stellar job coaching me and keeping up a steady stream of chatter which was a most welcome distraction.
I was still only at about 5 cm at 1 am and the contractions had definitely started to get a bit more intense. I was unable to talk through them and they seemed to be lasting longer with less time to rest in between. I was so exhausted. I hadn't gotten any sleep since the previous night and I was kicking myself for making banana bread instead of taking a nap the day before. I was still managing without any pain medication at this point but it was getting so much more difficult. I knew that if I was going to have any chance of making it to the PUSH part of labor I needed some rest. So, I buzzed in Tricia and asked her what my options were other than an epidural and she mentioned Fentanyl, a fast-acting but temporary pain relief, it would last about an hour and I could have up to 6 doses. I was really starting to feel like I was at the end of my tether so I agreed and was given my first dose at around 2am.
It was totally worth it. It didn't take away the pain completely but dulled it to about 60% which was enough so I was able to get a few precious minutes of sleep. Amanda made a coffee run for herself and Kris and the waiting continued.