I was so worried that there was meconium since I was early, not late, with labor. I asked the nurse what it means when there's meconium prior to 40 weeks and she said it could either mean baby is just ready a little early-- or it could mean fetal distress.
Oh, thanks. That makes me feel so much better. Goodness!!
She did try to reassure me and said that NICU would be coming to the delivery and they would be standing by in case baby girl swallowed any meconium and they would be the first to assess her.
Peter and I continued to pray and we also texted our families to pray about this new development. My sweet parents and sister live an hour away and soon after getting our text decided to come up to the hospital right away in case anything negative were to happen.
Triage was somewhat of a blur of increasingly painful contractions, my doula arriving and helping P. with my pain management and emotional support, and me losing my Chik-Fil-A lunch into the nearest trash can (that's as delicate as I can put it...). I'm so thankful we had been very solid about our decision not to get an epidural because I have no doubt I would have re-thought things in those moments. However, my contractions were so close together, it's doubtful I would have been able to get one anyway had I changed my mind.
About two hours after our arrival they moved me into my labor and delivery room. An IV was started and I began to receive antibiotics through it as I had tested strep B positive early in my pregnancy and protocol was for me to have at least 4 hours of antibiotics for baby's protection (baby G got tired of being in there before she'd had the full dose, however...another reason I was glad to have NICU on board).
I was very hopeful about the nursing staff prior to admission. I mean, you'd think most nurses working in L&D would love their jobs and be amazing birth coaches and advocates for their patients. Perhaps most are.
But mine was not.
I later found out from friends who work at the hospital that she is known to be the grumpiest nurse in the department. Fabulous. She did not disappoint. She barely spoke to me, did not coach or encourage at all through my contractions, stood by the computer the whole time, and even gave me a medication without checking my dilation first (being a nurse myself, these things make me so upset, although at the time I was so focused on the contractions I mostly ignored her).
On the flip side, my doula and my husband were the most amazing birth team ever. Wow. My heart warms even now at their tireless support. My husband held me and stayed by my side the whole time, speaking words of comfort and encouragement. My doula had great manual techniques for pain management and helped me focus on the purpose of my labor and not panic from the pain. Both of them prayed with me throughout. I had brought a journal of prayer intentions from friends and family and others and we prayed for those intentions in my early labor. As things got more intense, I would just offer up all my pain (in union with Christ's suffering on the cross/Colossians 1:24) for the collective intentions.
No one can prepare you for the pain of labor. The nurse said my water breaking also made my contractions more painful because there was no fluid to offset it. I also think my labor was particularly "fast and furious" because of baby needing to get out fast-- both my body and God knew that and I'm grateful. It was nothing like my early contractions at home that I had laughed through. It wasn't even like the contractions in triage that I could talk through with a grimace. These were all-consuming, whole-body-feels-in-pain contractions.
My ideal had been for a completely medication-free labor but the one intervention I had been on the fence about was the IV pain med Nubain. It seemed to have the least side effects and wore off quickly so I was somewhat open to it prior to labor. With the contractions coming almost on top of each other, I was exhausted and losing strength. The breathing through contractions was no longer helping. I remember one contraction I just said "Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus" over and over. I also remember starting to lose it with my focus and during a crazy-painful contraction on my hands and knees on the bed, I shrieked, "I want Nubain" to my doula and the nurse.
That stuff is wonderful. And a little weird. It helped for only an hour but that was enough to regain my strength. I've never been drunk or drugged but it felt like a combination of both. I could still feel the contractions but they felt like in early labor and were much more manageable. My head was foggy and I felt very tired. My parents and sister then arrived and came in to visit during this time. It was so good to have my family there as well. My doula said she felt that the Nubain was a good decision. Even though I'd like to try again someday without any meds, I think it was a good decision, too. It gave me a much-needed hour to breathe and re-focus and gain strength from my family and Peter.
But all good things come to an end and it wore off. This time the contractions were absolutely indescribable. One on top of the other, it was all I could do to drape myself over my husband and moan deeply with each one. I was very inward-focused and not very aware of my surroundings but simply focusing on enduring one contraction at a time. My doula reminded me each one is bringing your baby downward and closer to meeting us. I remember thinking if they came in and said we have to do a C section, I'd gladly say "wheel me away." (which makes me laugh now, especially knowing how much I did NOT want a C section). I was watching the monitor for baby's heart rate and her heart would dip from 140's to the 60's during contractions...very scary. I said something about it to P. and I'm sure my nurse overheard but she didn't say anything.
During the contractions I began to feel like I had to push. I told my not-so-great nurse and asked her to check me for dilation-- she proceeded to tell me she didn't think I was that far along and that she can't just check me to check me. (see what I mean?) I couldn't argue with her because I had more important things to focus on so I continued to endure the contractions and even let my body push a few times. I did ask her if I could have more Nubain or if she needed to check me before giving it (because I was pretty sure she was supposed to!!). She said she didn't need to check me and gave me some more. (This also makes me furious because it can be contraindicated to give Nubain too close to delivery...)
About twenty minutes later, I still had to push and I begged her to check me. She did and begrudgingly (at least I thought it was!) announced I was completely dilated.
This was around four hours after we'd arrived at the hospital. My doula couldn't believe how quickly things had gone. She looked at me incredulously and said, "Laura, THAT was transition!!" (Transition is often seen as the worst and hardest part of labor without an epidural...the most intense contractions as you dilate from 8-10cm.) It was a great feeling to know I had made it through stage 3 of labor.
Time to push!!!
To be continued...