Early Monday morning, March 25th, 2013
Sometime after 3am, Eli woke up and started crying. I don’t really remember exactly what happened next, but Josh and I both eventually got out of bed to check on Eli and give him some Tylenol for his fever. Initially, my contractions stayed around 15 minutes apart. The more I moved around, however, the faster the contractions seem to come. The intervals ranged from 6 minutes to 12 minutes, seemingly irregular, but slightly stronger than what I had experience throughout the night. I updated Josh and told him I thought we might need to head to the hospital.
I started to organize and gather the bags I would need, but still didn’t believe that this was ‘it’. Josh had disappeared into the living room and, when I went to look for him, I found him on his laptop taking care of some work-related emails. Typical. I paced for a little while until my intensifying contractions shook me out of my denial.
I called and woke up my friend Camille, who had graciously agreed to come over and stay with Eli if we had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. Still unwilling to pull the trigger, I told her I would text her in the next 15 minutes if I really needed her to come over. It was no more than 5 minutes later that I texted her, ‘Come now!’
When Camille got to the house around 4:30am, she scolded us for not already being in the car. I laughed and pointed to Josh finishing up some emails on the couch. I also tried to tell her that I was probably in ‘false labor’ and would be sent home from the hospital… but was interrupted by a strong contraction that forced me to stop talking and take a few deep breaths.
We got into the car and headed to St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens, about a 20-minute drive from our house in Watkinsville. I could still talk through the contractions, but definitely grabbed the door handle until the peak of the contractions would pass. I remember wishing that Josh would drive a little faster. He told me later that he was trying to gauge my pain level/state of mind by my ability to maintain conversation… at this point my contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart.
I found out when we registered in the emergency room that my least favorite OB (Dr. A) was on call. She is completely competent, just is a ‘high talker.’ Hysterically, the woman who registered us could do a spot on impression of this doctor’s tendency to talk in a high voice. I was able to laugh and joke at this point and felt a little silly being pushed in a wheel chair up to the labor and delivery unit.
The nurses in the birth center directed us into triage. It was probably around 5:30 am at this point and my contractions were getting considerably stronger. As they started collecting my vitals, one of the nurses remarked that my blood pressure seemed high and asked if this had been a problem during my pregnancy. It hadn’t and I was momentarily concerned as I had suffered from preeclampsia during my pregnancy with Noah. The high blood pressure, however, was explained when she checked my progress a few minutes later and discovered that I was already 7 centimeters dilated!
The nurse asked if I planned on having an epidural. When I told her ‘yes’, she commented that I was handing the contractions really well for someone who wasn’t planning on having a natural birth. I took this as a compliment, but also reassured her that I had every intention of having an epidural. They gave me the option of walking down to our room from triage or taking a wheel chair… I was debating, but Josh, after looking at his watch, encouraged me to take the wheel chair. He had been keeping track of my contractions and accurately predicted that I was due for one in the middle of our trek to the new room.
It was close to 6am by the time we got settled in our room and were delivered bad news about my expected epidural. There were only two anesthesiologists in the hospital at that time. One was involved with an emergency surgery in the ER. The other was occupied with a woman who also arrived 7cm dilated but whose baby was breech and needed a c-section. How could I argue with the priority of those two patients? So the reality began to sink in that I may have to deliver without any drugs.
The OB (Dr. A) came in to check on me and said I had progressed another centimeter or two. When I lamented the lack of an epidural, she offered to break my water to speed up the process. I was still holding out hope that I could get some relief, so declined her offer.
Josh kicked into coaching mode. The contractions were coming fast and furious and I was unsure of my ability to handle the pain. I kept telling the him and the nurses, ‘This isn’t how this was supposed to happen!’ But, as Josh reminded me, what choice did I have? So I hunkered down and, with Josh’s encouragement, convinced myself that I could do it. I asked him to text my friends from church and ask them to start praying!