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Sept 7th, 5:00 pm

When we got home, PH and my mother put me to bed and I slept -fitfully- for several hours. I had vomited once in the car and once when we arrived home, but did not end up needing the bowl next to my bed. I woke up for a contraction shortly before 5:00 pm, and thought “Oh good, it’s almost 5, we can call the hospital and ask if they have a room ready for me yet.”

I felt a warm wetness between my legs, almost as if I was leaking urine…

Painfully, I rolled myself out of bed and looked at the drips trickling down my legs. I hobbled to the door and opened it. I could hear the shower running, and the TV on downstairs.

“Mum…? Perfect Husband?” I called, like a little girl who has woken up from a nightmare.

“What is it, Love?” My husband called up the stairs.

“I… think my water is breaking.”

There was a couple of thumps on the stairs and Perfect Husband appeared in the doorway within seconds. I had shuffled over to his bedside, and was mopping at my legs with kleenex.

“See? I don’t THINK I’ve wet myself…” I said, showing him the wet kleenex. As I spoke, there was a moist, slithering feeling between my legs, and then something went SPLAT on the ground.

We looked down and saw a reddish-brown gelatinous blob wobbling on our carpet.

“Huh,” said Perfect Husband. “That’s a mucus plug.”

“Yup,” I said.

There was a jingling of a dog collar and a black and white flash of fur whisked towards us.

“NO… LEAVE IT!” we hollered in unison, diving for the dog.

Just in the nick of time.

I cleaned up the gelatinous blob while my husband called Admitting to tell them my water had broken. Now, don’t get me wrong. Of course my husband would have cleaned it up, rather than leaving it to his water-dripping, contracting, pregnant wife. In fact, he was  going to. But there are some things that I feel a husband should NEVER have to do even in the most dire of circumstances, like watch me on the toilet or sit through a knitting group, and cleaning up my bloody, blobby, gooby mucus plug is one of those things.

So I posted on Facebook and the blog while PH and my mother initiated the phone trees, and then we drove to the hospital. AGAIN. I was in more pain than ever, although the pain seemed more concentrated in my abdomen and less in my back than it had been before.

Turns out the hospital still didn’t have a room for me. They put me back in one of the curtained-off beds, attached the monitor, and left me to continue my vomit-drink juice-vomit cycle. The morphine had worn off so contractions were coming close together, sometimes on top of each other, again. The nurse hooked up nitrous oxide for me, which did NOT make me laugh or even really seem to do anything at all. When a doctor finally got around to checking me (2 cm, maybe, nothing else to report), I got another morphine shot which helped space the contractions back out again.

Time passed.

Every 20 minutes PH would make me get up and walk around for 20 minutes before he would let me rest again, in an attempt to get things moving a little. He and my mother brought me juice. I would throw it up and then beg for more, which they would only let me have in small, controlled sips. I would doze a bit when on the bed, between contractions. They continued to hurt.The sounds of women screaming, followed by babies wailing, continued as background noise.

Sept 7th, 11:00 pm

We were beginning to resign ourselves to the fact that our son would not be born today.

It was nearly 11 pm before they finally had a room free for me, and more time after that before a nurse was available to initiate and monitor my oxytocin drip. The room was nice – big, private, with its own bathroom with a shower and stool for labouring in warm water, and a big chair that folded out so my mother and husband could take turns lying down on it.

They hooked up the oxytocin on a low dose, telling me that they would steadily increase it until it had the desired effect. By this time my second morphine shot had worn off, and my contractions were back to being one on top of the other. I believe it was after I had the four and a half minute long contraction, which had at least three peaks, that the tears started to come into my eyes and they offered me the epidural.

I’ve never been good at handling pain, so I always expected to need an epidural in the end. I accepted without hesitation.

Sept 8th, 1:00 am

The epidural guy came in, and introduced himself as Dr. Mohammed Ali. This is not a pseudonym. That was actually the man’s last name. I shook his hand gravely and didn’t mention the name at all, because I’m sure he gets ribbed a lot about it. But after he left there was a lot of joking about how he “knocked me out” and “stung me like a bee, then I floated like a butterfly.”

The epidural didn’t take long and the needle itself didn’t hurt much, but sitting up and leaning forward so that I was pressing into my painful abdomen was almost unbearable. It didn’t take long, though, and soon I was lying on my back in a warm puddle of bliss. The pain was gone. I could feel my legs and move them, although they were heavy and I didn’t have proper control of them. I felt warm and cozy and very comfortable. The only downside was a kind of itchy feeling, which I would scratch idly, but a slight itch was really nothing to complain about, now that I was out of pain.

I remained that way for almost 12 hours.

Finally able to doze for more than a few minutes at a time, I conked out quickly. But it was still not a prolonged and restful sleep because of course the nurse was there monitoring me. Every hour she would run ice down both my sides, asking me to tell her where the cold feeling stopped so she could make sure my epidural was still doing its job. They also kept waking me and getting me to shift positions, because the monitor kept losing the baby’s heart beat, and they weren’t sure whether the problem was the baby’s actual heart beat, or the monitor/my position.

At one point, the night was shattered by the most ear-piercing shrieks which went on and on. A woman was clearly being vivisected by Jack the Ripper in the next room. Polite conversation between my mother and the nurse ground to an awkward halt. I half sat up in bed. “Did that woman have an epidural?” I asked nervously. Would the birth still hurt that much, even with the pain medication?

When the screams finally died away, a nurse came in to spell-off my oxytocin nurse. She told us that that woman had arrived 10 cm dilated, no time to for her doctor to arrive, definitely no time for an epidural. The nurses ended up catching the baby on their own. That poor woman. If I could have found Dr. Mohammed Ali and hugged him, I think I would have.

Sept 8th, 4:00 am

The problems monitoring the heart rate continued. Sometimes it would drop down low. I couldn’t see the monitor, though my mother and husband could, and I think this was to prevent me worrying. Finally they decided to attach a sensor to his skull so they could monitor him more accurately. They went up my gooch with a little plastic stick and somehow pinned a little monitor onto the baby’s head. They told me I was at 4 cm.

By morning the right side of my epidural had worn off a little, the icy feeling lasting almost to my waist, and I could feel slight aching in that side, which made me nervous. They talked about topping me up if necessary.

Sept 8th, 9:00 am

The Wednesday OB showed up at around 8:30 or 9 in the morning. I had never met this one before, but he seemed nice. He looked like a bearded Omar Sharif in his late thirties or early forties. He pronounced me at 9 cm, and left again. I remained at 9 cm for a very long time. The nurses kept checking me and saying that there was a “rim” still and therefore it wasn’t time to push.

Sept 8th, 11:45 am

Dr. Omar Sharif returned, probably just before starting his lunch break (he was running back and forth between me and the OB clinic, you see). Though the nurses had told me only a little while before that the “rim” was still there, he pronounced me ready to push!

Read Part III: A Son is Born