Read Part 1 here.
Somehow we made it back home through yet another taxi ride (at least we live only five minutes from the hospital!), where we decided, since it was 11:30 at night, to try to slow things down so we both could rest a little. So we watched a movie—or rather, Jared watched a movie while I closed my eyes and fell asleep in the few minutes between contractions. At this point I was feeling something like jet lag from not sleeping for 24 hours and couldn’t keep my eyes open for anything. . . until another contraction came along, that is. Jared would stop the movie during contractions and do what I told him as I sang scales to try to focus on something else. It seemed to make them less intense, which was definitely what I was going for at that point!
At some point the movie ended I decided to try laying down on the bed to see if I could sleep any more comfortably there. I don’t know how long that lasted, but eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and got up, letting Jared get some rest.
I think Jared finally got up around 6 or 7 and we decided we’d walk to the hospital to get things going again, since we knew we’d be admitted for sure this time, either in active labour or to be induced. I didn’t really want to experience contractions with Pitocin (syntocinon in the UK) after all that, and since my contractions had now slowed down to every 10 minutes (my relaxing worked, apparently!), I wanted to get them going again.
As you might expect, walking on public sidewalks while you’re in labour guarantees that you’ll get some strange looks. A few people asked if I was ok (they probably wondered if this very pregnant woman who was swinging her hips was about to have a baby drop out or something), and one woman even stopped and offered us a ride to the hospital.
Anyways, our mile and a half walk worked to get labour going. Contractions picked up significantly again, so that when I was checked at the hospital around 10:00, they finally decided I was in active labour and needed no augmentation (aka induction).
So off to the labour ward we went. It felt good to know something was finally happening and maybe we’d be meeting our baby soon. And our midwife was so helpful and reassuring for both Jared and me. She immediately took charge, told me I was doing a great job, and answered all Jared’s questions. After about an hour of laboring in the labor ward, I asked for an epidural because my lack of sleep was really catching up to me. It sounded blissful to be able to lay down and sleep and not feel any contractions, though I felt like the pain was still manageable with breathing.
As it turns out, it was a good thing I didn’t ask for the epidural because I couldn’t handle the pain any more. The anesthetist came in around 12:30, I think, and got everything sited and ready by 1:00. As he left the room, he told me, “That should kick in in around twenty minutes. I hope I don’t see you again, since in my job it’s a sign things haven’t worked!”
Well, twenty minutes went by and I topped it up. Nothing happened. I felt cold going in when I pressed the button, but nothing at all went numb. The midwife said that maybe it just needed a couple extra top ups, so I waited till I’d had about three or four more. Still nothing.
So there I was, hooked up to all kinds of monitors (because it had been so long since my water broke), with a blood pressure cuff on my arm that annoyingly would always go off when I was having a contraction, and an epidural that wasn’t working.
Thankfully, the midwife was a great advocate and called the anesthetist again. He was in theatre (operating on someone), so a different person came by and tried topping it up with something stronger. And. . .it still didn’t work. I was still able to get out of bed and use the restroom—although that seemed to be the only place I couldn’t quite feel.
About four hours after getting the first epidural, the anesthetist finally came back and re-sited it, promising that it would work this time. As I’m sure you can guess by this point, it didn’t. And to add to the bad news, when they checked me I’d only progressed one centimeter and that baby’s head was posterior (which I could have told them due to all the back labor!). (They may have checked me before the second epidural—I don’t really remember.)
Another couple hours of laboring on a bed strapped up to several monitors and wearing a blood pressure cuff that always went on during a contraction with no pain relief from the epidural went by. Squeezing Jared’s hand while I breathed through them was my main method of coping, and I’m sure his hand was sore the next day.
They offered me gas and air, but I didn’t really want it as I thought it might disrupt my hard-won methods. Finally, though, as the midwife was getting super fed up with the anesthetist and went off to find someone who could give me an epidural that would actually work (about 8 hours after I’d requested one), I gave in and tried it just so I could see what it was actually like.
It was a strange sensation. It didn’t really help with the pain; it just made me feel like I was outside of my body and was aware of this person on the bed dealing with everything (and of Jared and the midwife), but didn’t really have any connection to anyone. They kept asking me questions and trying to get me to talk while I was using it, but I didn’t want to. And when I was breathing it, it made me feel like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen.
Anyways, I didn’t like it and stopped using it after about three contractions. I’d rather feel like myself even if I’m in pain!
Around 8:00, another anesthetist came in who actually knew what she was doing, and gave me a spinal first and then another epidural. I made it through the placement—not expecting anything, because maybe my body just didn’t like the anesthesia—and this one actually worked. It wasn’t a complete
Around this time, they checked me again, and I was still only six centimeters and dilating unevenly because JQ was turning around and not coming down straight.
To help him turn, they decided to augment my labor with Pitocin in hopes that stronger contractions would move him along. I agreed, because now I had my epidural, and though I could still feel the contractions, they just felt extremely tight instead of painful. During this time, they kept monitoring my temperature and baby’s heart rate and whispering among themselves (the shift had changed and now there was a different midwife and a student midwife helping us). It had been over 36 hours since my water broke, and baby’s heart rate was getting faster and then slowing down a little whenever I had a contraction. They put me on IV antibiotics and stopped the pitocin, but my temperature was going up and was around 37.7 C (100 F). I could tell they were getting kind of worried.
As a last resort, they checked me again, and had the surprising news that his head was right there and ready to come out! This was the easiest part of the entire labor–after about 5 strong pushes, he came out all at once, and he even had his hand by his face (where he preceded to keep it for about the next 24 hours). I suspect he’d been coming down for a while, which is why his heart rate was decreasing some, but since they were doing minimal checks and I had an epidural, nobody knew. At any rate, it made pushing easy! He was screaming shrilly and was all red, and was eating like a ravenous little boy within thirty minutes. The midwives said they’d never seen a baby that new eat so well. So at 12:51 a.m., 16 hours after being admitted to the hospital and 33 hours after going into labor, John Quincy came into the world. Joy really did come in the morning. And he still eats all the time. 🙂