Note: The following story contains discreet references to various aspects of the birthing process.
Before I really begin this story, I probably should provide a little background info to explain why I happened to be awake at 1:30 in the morning. Without getting into too much detail, let's just say I had gone to bed intending to go to sleep but Baby apparently was crushing my bladder into oblivion. After getting up several times to try to alleviate this feeling, it was so uncomfortable that I couldn't sleep and I was getting tired of walking to the bathroom every 2 minutes, so I decided to sit up and read until I wore myself out. So that is how it came to be that at around 1:30 AM on July 1, I was propped up in bed reading a Francine Rivers novel.
At about that time, I noticed something that I thought might be a contraction. Not painful at all, but noticeable. I had been having mild contractions occasionally for the past few weeks, so I didn't think much of it. Several minutes later though, I noticed another one so I decided to start roughly timing them. I glanced at the digital alarm clock on Eddie's nightstand and went back to reading my book. About 5 minutes later, I felt another contraction, followed by more. My contractions were spaced between 5 and 7 minutes apart and seemed to be stronger than any I had felt prior to that night. I decided that if they hadn't stopped at 2:00, then I would wake Eddie up. They continued so I woke him up and said, "I might be in labor, but I'm not sure. I don't know what to do."
What I meant by that was, "I don't know what to do now that we have a toddler sleeping across the hall." Back when I had been pregnant with Peter, we had a false labor episode which involved going to the hospital at 3 AM but since we didn't have any other kids yet, it wasn't a big deal. (Other than having to pay the 10% coinsurance on this which was about $25. But I digress...) The issue now was that if we dragged Peter out of bed and woke my BIL and SIL up in the middle of the night for a false alarm, then I'd feel like an idiot (after all, with this being the second baby, I shouldn't fall victim to false labor, right?). So I told Eddie that I was going walk around the house for a while to see if the contractions slowed. I walked from our bedroom to the kitchen on the opposite end of the house and then back. Then I walked back to the kitchen; as I passed the clock/radio next to the stove, the time read 2:07. I started walked back toward the living room and had just reached the edge of the kitchen when I felt something that might be my water breaking. It was just a little bit though, not enough to get on the floor. I stood for a moment on the tiled kitchen floor contemplating whether this was really happening or not and then I did something very stupid. For some reason, or perhaps no reason at all, I chose to leave the tiled kitchen and run across the carpeted living, down the carpeted hallway (passing the tiled hall bathroom as I went), through our carpeted bedroom, and into the master bathroom. As I passed the semi-conscious Eddie, I said, "I think my water might have broken but I'm not sure." A few seconds after reaching the tiled bathroom, the floodgates opened.
Okay, let me just say that even though this was my second baby, having my water break like this was a totally new experience. With Peter, my water was artificially broken by my doctor in a hospital bed and shortly followed by an epidural, so I had no idea what to expect with "natural" water breakage. Seriously, I have to wonder how it is possible that I had that much liquid inside of me. Finally it stopped, so I felt safe enough to change clothes. Then it started again, so I had to change AGAIN, and also grabbed a towel to put on the seat in the car. During this time, Eddie broke down the pack-n-play, put it in the trunk, put all of our bags in the car (one for each of us, including Peter), got Peter up, and strapped him in the carseat. We were pulling out of the driveway within 10 minutes. We took Peter to his Uncle Jeremy and Aunt Jen's which was only slightly out of the way from the hospital, and then were back on the road. During this time I also managed to call my mom...
Brief rabbit trail about her. My mom had wanted to be present for the actual birth. She was there for Peter's delivery and quite enjoyed watching her first grandchild enter the world. And so, she had booked her flight for July 1; the baby was due July 11 so it seemed safe. Then when I had problems with high blood pressure and was put on total bedrest, my doctor and I decided to induce on July 3, so everything was all scheduled so that my mom would be there.
So anyway, I called my mom and had to share the news that I expected that she would be missing the birth since at this point it was about 2:30 AM and her flight wasn't due until 5 PM. At least, I fervently hoped that she would be missing the birth, otherwise I'd be in labor forever which even with an awesome epidural would still be boring. In a strange twist of fate, I did absolutely get my wish to not be in labor forever but I would later regret that I wasn't in labor longer. More on that later.
While I was speaking to my mom, she was surprised that I did not seem to be in any pain. By then it had been at least 20 minutes since the water breaking and although I was having regular contractions, they were not painful. They were a bit uncomfortable, but hey, pregnancy generally is at the point anyway! So I was having a totally normal conversation without any indicators that I was in active labor. I remember thinking that my labor must not be progressing very fast since the contractions didn't hurt and I wondered if I would be dilated much more than I already had been.
We reached the hospital at about 2:45 AM and pulled up in front of the emergency entrance. Once we got into the labor/delivery triage, we discovered that I didn't have my insurance card with me (of course!). I had given it to Eddie two days earlier to pick up my self-use blood pressure cuff and he had left it on his bureau. Naturally since I was in labor they couldn't not treat me, so we moved past that. I was still feeling okay and was standing at the counter checking in for several minutes without much discomfort and no pain at all. Then I was put in a little room while Eddie went to park the car. At about 3 AM, a nurse confirmed that my water had broken (not that I needed confirmation) and she measured my dilation at between 4 and 5 cm. I had progressed roughly 1 1/2 cm since going into labor, since I had been 3 cm at a check-up two days earlier.
I don't remember exactly when the contractions went from uncomfortable to painful, but it was shortly after the time Eddie returned to my little room that I started squeezing his hand during contractions. A nurse came to my room to get some bloodwork and detailed information from me since I had forgotten to preregister with the hospital. She also started the IV fluids which are required before getting an epidural (this I had requested as soon as I checked in... wasn't about to go through labor without that!). At that time I asked whether I would be delivering in the room I was in now... I didn't think so because it was pretty small... but they hadn't mentioned moving me. I was told that I was not in a delivery room but that they could deliver in it if the hospital was really full, which it was! Turns out I was one of 3 laboring women in the triage at the moment and there were only 2 empty delivery rooms. But, she told me, "You're the only one with water broken so I think you've won the race." Yay.
By the way, there's nothing worth watching on TV at 3 AM, even with 70+ channels to choose from. Next time I will plan to go into labor during the day, when programming is much more exciting. And by this point I needed some distraction from the pain, but since the TV wasn't cutting it for me, I contented myself with leaving semi-permanent fingernail indentations in Eddie's hand.
To be continued...