Elsa’s Birth Story: Part 2

Part 1 here.

Wednesday, Dec. 7: Checking In.

At 7pm, we settle into the Rose Medical Center, Room 11. I’m still hoping to stay as unattached to my bed as possible during this labor, so a sweet nurse moves us to Room 5 so that we can use the hospital’s only wireless monitor if constant monitoring becomes necessary. Which of course it won’t be.  No being strapped to the bed for me!

The nurses are cheerful and friendly. I’m having mild contractions and a quick check puts me at 1 centimeter dilated. Still only 1 centimeter. I’ve had mild contractions and been dilated to 1 cm for the last few weeks. So I almost forget to mention that, oh, ha ha, I’ve been leaking since yesterday evening, but I’m sure it’s nothing.

And that was the end of that. With one tiny sentence, any “vision” I had for labor flew out the hospital window.

“Since yesterday evening? What time?”

Suddenly Serious Nurse uses some litmus paper on the small wet spot that was forming under me. “If it’s amniotic fluid, the paper turns blue.”

Blue. My water broke. It’s been broken. For almost twenty-four hours. Oh shit. I suddenly feel very, very stupid.

Once a pregnant woman’s water is broken, the risk of infection increases with the passing of time. So, while this isn’t an emergency, I’m immediately given an IV with antibiotics and 2 monitors are strapped to my belly: one for the baby’s heart rate and one to measure the strength of contractions. The monitors are hooked up to a screen in our room and one at the nurses’ station. You can hear the whoosh-whoosh-whoosing of the baby’s heartbeat. The contraction monitor assigns a number to the strength of the contraction, so you can watch it as it builds and fades.

In retrospect, I’d ask Mike to turn down the volume completely and move the screen out of my line of sight. Because from that moment on, I am completely obsessed with watching the monitor. I feel so guilty for not recognizing that my water was broken. In fact, I remember Mike DID try to stop me from focusing on the screens, but the idea that I put you in any danger (even minor) made me feel sick to my stomach. I felt if I stopped concentrating on your heartbeat that something would go terribly wrong.  Suddenly this is scary.

Labor.

I’m given cervadil to try to kick-start labor.  My contractions are getting more painful.  I am freezing and tired and I hate my IV and want nothing more than to take a bath.  Sadly, my water has been broken too long to risk it.  I’m allowed to take a shower instead.  Mike helps me move the entourage of wires, IV pole and monitors to the freezing bathroom.  I let hot water run over me one side at a time, but can’t seem to warm up.   The monitor belts get soaked and start to chafe.  It’s a sad substitute for a bath.

Back in bed, I breathe through more painful contractions and continue to watch the monitors.   It’s well past midnight and I know I should get some sleep, but I can’t relax.  I’m worried about you.  I accept a mild sedative and try to watch Best in Show on the iPad.  Finally I fall asleep.

Labor.

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