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Monday, Sept 6th, 8:00 AM

Induction day. Officially I was overdue by 7 days, according to the date of my last period. According to that early ultrasound we had at 12 weeks, the baby was overdue by 11 days. Either way, my OB clinic induces at one week, since they say that reduces the occurrence of stillborns. We went in to the hospital and they put me in a bed with a monitor strapped onto my belly,told me to push a button whenever the baby moved, and left us for a while.

PH got a big kick out of being able to tell ME when the baby was moving simply by watching the heart rate spike.

“He’s kicking again”, he’d say and I’d say “Yes, yes he is”.

Then they felt up my gooch and told me that I was not at all dilated (still) and Babby was floating at -3 station (still). The hospital induction OB, who looked like Jane Lynch, warned me that there was a good chance his head might not be able to pass into my pelvis, which felt narrow to her. I’ve always thought of myself as being wide-hipped, but I guess I’m not so wide where it counts. She wanted me to prepare myself for a probable C-section.

“But still, we want to give it the old college try,” she said, “obstetrics is full of surprises, and we won’t give you a C-section until we KNOW you won’t be able to achieve a vaginal birth.”

Then she shoved the gel up my gooch and left us for an hour to think about it. It kind of burned a bit, but I didn’t feel any of the cramping or contractions they had warned me about. Then they sent me home, and told me to come back at 2:45 pm for another dose unless I suddenly went into active labour in which case I should obviously come in sooner.

I had some mild menstrual-like cramping but that was it.

Monday, Sept 6th, 2:45pm

We returned to the hospital for my next dose. They were rushing around busy so they put me in a bed with a monitor and we waited and waited for them to get around to me. The women next to me was moaning and crying behind her curtain, which I didn’t find very encouraging whatsoever. PH read out loud to me from the Princess Bride for a while and then started wandering around the ward.

“I’ve found the Christmas decorations”, he announced at one point. “At this rate, we may need them.”

FINALLY Dr. Jane Lynch showed up and poked me in private areas, which was much less comfortable now, with the cramping and all that. I mean, it was not exactly a comforting massage at the best of times. Now it was like “Oh dear gawd, what did I ever do to you?”. She told me that I wasn’t dilated at all, but Babby had moved down to -2 or so. We found this encouraging. She shoved more gel up my gooch and left me for an hour. Babby’s heart rate remained fine and I didn’t burst into active labour, so they let us go. They gave us the option of either coming back that night for a third dose, and then getting pitocin in the morning if nothing had happened, or waiting til the next day for the third dose, and getting pitocin that afternoon or evening.

We wanted to get the show on the road. We were afraid that if we held off the third dose to the next day, the baby might not even be born on Tuesday at all, and my husband would have taken a day off work for nothing. By going in late on Monday, we thought we would actually be able to produce a baby by the end of Tuesday.

We were so naive.

Monday, Sept 6th, 10:30 pm

They were still incredibly busy. We waited and waited and waited, and now I was feeling QUITE crampy and out of sorts. Finally Dr. Jane Lynch showed up and told me that absolutely nothing had changed. Oh, no, I might be almost dilated one cm. Kind of.

Another dose of gel, an hour of waiting which resulted in much stronger and more painful cramping, and the promising encouragement of “come in when you wake up and we’ll give you oxytocin”.

Good to know they had faith in their third dose of gel doing the trick.

Tuesday, Sept 7th, 5:30 am. 5:32 am. 5:35 am…

I did not sleep at all. The cramping had been kicked into contractions by the gel, but they were apparently not real contractions that actually did anything, since they had sent me home with them at 1 in the morning. I suppose it was basically the first stage of labour with  very frequent contractions. The pains started in my lower abdomen and shot up my back, with an added stabbing pain between my legs which made me really sympathize with that poor pig in Lord of the Flies. They came every two to four minutes, so I would doze of for a minute only to be woken up by another pain. I watched the clock the whole night. 2:48 am. 2:51 am. 2:54 am. 2:56 am. 2:59 am…

I took a warm bath, but I needed PH to pull me out of the tub when it got cold. I breathed deeply. I remained quiet so as to not wake PH up, since there was no point in all of us losing sleep. I rolled onto my knees and arched my back. I got up and checked Facebook. 4:21 am. 4:23 am. 4:26 am…

PH woke up to find me desperately trying to get comfortable during another contraction at around 5 in the morning. We debated about whether or not to go in. On the one hand, contractions 3 minutes apart seem to scream “active labour” but since they had sent me home like that, clearly such measures didn’t count when you had pig prostaglandins on your cervix. Eventually he called Labour and Delivery and asked them, and they seemed unconcerned. They said I could come in if I wanted my progress checked or some pain meds, but that I was not likely to be in active labour. We held out until 6:30 or so and then PH and my mother helped me, walking as gingerly as an old lady and moaning, to the car. On the way, I opened the passenger door and vomited onto the road at a stop light.

I was eased back into the damn uncomfortable hospital bed and a monitor was strapped to me again. We waited for quite a while for a doctor, occasionally assured by sympathetic nurses that we weren’t forgotten about, but they were extremely busy. Apparently the entire population of Vancouver chose to be induced/have their c-sections on the 7th, because it’s a lucky number don’t you know.

The contractions kept coming. Most of them I could breathe through but every now and then I’d get several continuous waves with no break in between, and I’d begin to whimper with tears springing in my eyes. I am not known for my stoicism. The pain seemed aggravated too by the unabashed moaning and crying from the woman next to me. She was clearly in a lot of pain and very unhappy about it, but she kept turning down pain medication. I was really motivated to breathe deeply and not whine during contractions because I didn’t want to sound like her.

Tuesday, Sept 7th, sometime late morning

Finally my own OB (who works Tuesdays) came in and told me that I was 1 cm dilated and Babby had not moved any lower. She told me that I needed oxytocin but that they were far too busy to be able to give me a room and a nurse at the moment. She offered me a shot of morphine with gravol, which I accepted.

The shot was extremely mild, obviously, and it didn’t really do much for the pain, but it had the blessed benefit of spacing out the contractions to every 5-7 minutes, and giving me the ability to doze between each contraction. PH and my mother sat there for hours, holding my hand, talking softly to each other while I dozed, and timing my contractions. They brought me juice, which I would then vomit up. Someone brought me breakfast, but just looking at it made me throw up, so that was a wash.

After I don’t know how long (my sense of time was totally shot at this point) the doctor returned and told me that she was sorry but there were STILL no rooms available and likely wouldn’t be until at least 5 pm. Did we want to just go home and wait?

Yes, yes we did.

Read Part II: In Which Mohammed Ali and Omar Sharif Make An Appearance