When we arrived, the nurses did a fetal monitoring strip, and everything looked fine. The contractions, though, gradually petered out, until at around 8:10 on Monday morning, they were 40 minutes apart. Dr Wertlen came in after his night shift in the ER. He said that we were weclome to stay or go home, so we opted to go home and get some rest. The contractions continued at ten minute intervals throughout the day and night, occasionally becoming more or less frequent.
Roger and Roxanne (my in-laws) came on Tuesday afternoon; right before they arrived was my longest contraction–free break, for about an hour and a half. I made a ridiculously huge batch of manicotti to freeze. I was going out for walks each day, for at least 15 minutes, as Dr Hafazalla had suggested. At one point, as I walked in the drizzle on Green Street, I thought I might have to sit down on the sidewalk, but then the contraction passed and I continued on. I was listening to “This Too Shall Pass” on my iPod by OKGo, over, and over, and over. The contractions kept waxing and waning through another night. On Wednesday afternoon, although I really, really didn’t want to go anywhere, Roxanne and I went to Frenchy’s, the Bulk Barn, and the Superstore. I would pause when a contraction came, at Frenchy’s holding on to the side of a bin, and gripping the shopping cart handles with puffy, white-knuckled hands at the other stores. I made an amazing batch of granola when we got home. The contractions increased in frequency through the evening, and when they were approximately two to three minutes apart, around 10:30 or so, Adam and I zoomed off in the night again to the caseroom.
Once again, we arrived, had a monitoring strip done, and, as before, the contractions gradually became less frequent. Because I had an appointment in the caseroom on Thursday morning, to have a monitoring strip done and meet with Dr Hafazalla, we decided to go home and try to get some rest. At this point, I was one centimetre dilated, which was further than I ever was with Phillip during that induced labour. Looking at it that way was encouraging, but looking at three days of labour with only one centimetre progress was really, really discouraging. I had been having contractions for three solid days and nights with almost no break, and I was starting to become a little bit overwhelmed. It didn’t take long to get myself together, but on the way out of the hospital that Wednesday night, the nurses must have thought I was kind of pitiful. I felt kind of pitiful, in fact. When we got home, I had a long soak in the tub to try to relax before another contraction-filled night. The contractions were becoming more intense, and Adam assured me that I could grab his arm, hold his hand, or whatever else I needed to do to get through them. I remember one in particular, when all that I managed to grab was his thumb. I was completely immobilized, directing every particle of tension and discomfort out of my body and directly into his poor thumb. Whatever part of his body happened to be closest was on the receiving end; most often it was his arm, sometimes his hand. What a fantastic husband I have – more than willing to be jarred out of sleep every few minutes for hours on end.
When I woke up on Thursday morning, I decided that regardless of what had happened and what was going to happen, I was going to shower, shave my legs, and put on makeup, dammit. If I was having to do this for another day, I was going to at the very least feel somewhat presentable.
Dr Hafazalla checked me on Thursday morning, and, hallelujah! I was 3-4 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Progress at last! We decided that breaking my water would be the best course of action, so that’s what we did. I had no idea that there was that much fluid around Thomas. Six pounds of it, to be precise. Labour continued on steadily, to the tune of complimentary fresh root beer popsicles without any noticeable major change in the way the contractions felt, until about 1:30 on Thursday afternoon. At that point they became so intense that I couldn't speak or move during them. By this time, my hopes of having a drug-free birth were trumped by my complete fatigue and the prospect that this could go on for much, much longer. I was drained after each contraction. I agreed to have an epidural, in the hopes of getting some rest before the big push.
Contractions were about a minute apart when I was sitting on the table with the anesthetist at my back. It took him twenty minutes to get it in. That’s approximately twenty contractions, during which I was unable to move. Leaning over a giant belly, with my legs going to sleep, and with the doctor hitting the bone several times. Which, in case you’ve never experienced it, is akin to hitting your funny bone on an awl which pierces through your elbow (except in your back) times ten thousand. Holding still through this was the most physically difficult thing I have ever had to do in my life up until this point. Especially when the anesthetist said, "You're giving me a hard time." I nearly lost it. Once he had it in, that was it – my contractions were off the chart (literally) and I didn’t feel a particle of pain. I fell asleep.
I dozed until I had a reaction to the epidural. One minute, I was talking to a nurse, the next, everything closed in around my head, and I just wanted to go to sleep. The equipment started beeping, and people came scurrying in. Dr Hafazalla happened to be right outside of the door, so he scooted in and looked on with concern, the nurses readjusted me on the table, and the anesthetist adjusted my dose. Stephanie, one of the nurses, talked me through everything and told me what was happening, but to be honest, I didn’t care. I knew that I should, but all I wanted to do was give in to the sleepy feeling. My blood pressure dipped down to 60/40, but within a few minutes, I was back up to normal. The other, much less serious reaction I had to the epidural was intense itching on my upper abdomen and chest. That was bizarre. After all of that craziness, I think I dozed off some more. It was such a relief to be able to sleep, even if it was only for a few minutes. Dr Hafazalla said that he would come back and check me around 6:00.
Dr Hafazalla came back as promised, and checked me again. Unfortunately, my contractions had not been producing the desired effect of pushing out a baby, and I was now less dilated than I had been that morning. He also explained that my pelvic arch is 80 degrees, where most women’s is 110 degrees, so if Thomas was to be born vaginally, forceps would definitely have to be used to guide his head down and under. Also, his head had not engaged, so labour was not producing the desired effect of opening the cervix for his great escape. At that point, after discussing everything, we decided that since virtually no progress had been made after four days of labour, Thomas would be born by cesarean.
Thomas was born at 7:15 pm on Thursday, March 25. Surpassing all estimates, he weighed 9 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 21 inches long. His head circumference was just over the 99th percentile. Adam held him between us and next to me while I was put back together, and we talked to him, looked him over, and introduced ourselves while he sucked like mad on his lip. As soon as we were in the recovery room he took to feeding right away. I could not have been happier.