At the very end of the work day on Monday, December 12 I experienced my first true labor contraction. I was afraid that I wouldn't recognize a labor contraction when they first began...wow was I wrong! My contractions were all in my back and the sharp pains I experienced could be described as nothing other than the beginning stages of labor. I walked to the back of our office and was able to catch the attention of Hubby long enough for him to realize that something was going on. We had been advised in our childbirth class to stay home as long as we were comfortable or until my contractions were 5 minutes apart for at least an hour.
So at 4:45 we started timing them...Initially they were about 30-45 minutes apart. But the same pain every time and with each contraction I was more certain that Elyse would be arriving very very soon!
We had plans that evening for our small group Christmas party at a local pizza place. There wasn't any reason to stay home with contractions so far apart, so off we went. We obviously decided to keep the labor a secret so as not to excite anyone at dinner, but Hubby sat close by and each time a contraction would come I would simply squeeze his knee until the pain subsided. After dinner we came home and wrapped the last few Christmas presents we had & I mentally prepared to leave for the hospital sometime during the middle of the night.
Hubby & I both headed to bed...but there would be no sleep for me. My contractions began to get closer and closer together--about 10 minutes apart at this point--and finally at 2:30 am I decided it was time to wake Hubby up and start making preparations. We both decided to take quick showers knowing that it could be awhile before we had a chance again, loaded up the car, said a quick goodbye to Bogey and headed to the hospital. I think it was about 3:30 am when we finally left the house and my contractions were definitely at the 5 minute point.
It was a rainy night and we were practically to the hospital before Hubby turned on his flashers. We honestly didn't need them, but I think he just wanted to experience driving with his flashers on with his pregnant wife in the seat next to him! We headed to Labor & Delivery, all the while hoping that the nurses would affirm what I thought I knew...I was going to have a baby! After being examined in a triage room and a quick phone call to my dr. (who just happened to be on call that night), the nurse gave me the news...I was going to be admitted to the hospital @ 4 cm dilation. We weren't being sent home and we wouldn't be leaving the hospital before our baby girl was born!
Hubby & I had made the decision early on that once admitted to the hospital we would only be calling our parents & my best friend. They would be responsible for making any other calls, but we really only wanted immediate family & my best friend in the labor & delivery area. Everyone else would hear about Elyse's birth as soon as she was actually here.
The next few hours all kind of blend together...ice chips, bathroom break, contraction...ice chips, bathroom break, contraction...I was dealing with the pain fairly well and while I was making some progress, I could tell this was not going to be a fast process. Sometime between 10 & 11 am, the doctor on call (which wasn't my actual dr. anymore) came to check on me and again asked if I was planning on an epidural. Since my answer was yes, she wondered what I was waiting on and the preparations were made for the quick procedure.
Sidenote: I was TERRIFIED!!! This needle-fearing girl, was oh not-so-excited about getting the epidural, but the pain level was getting to the unbearable point. I made the decision to just get it over with and while it was definitely not pleasant and I considered passing out...Hubby was in front of me holding my hands and being my rock. It wasn't nearly as bad as I think it could have been and as things turned out, I'm so glad that I made the decision to have that epidural.
About 30 minutes-1 hour after I received my epidural, Elyse's heart rate started doing some strange things and my water had yet to break on its own. An entire team of nurses came into my room and they broke my water in order to place a fetal monitor on Elyse to more accurately monitor what her heart rate was doing during each contraction. It was a little bit of a scary moment with so many nurses in my room, but I was assured that everything was fine. Also with my lack of much progress, they started some Pitocin in my IV and in a matter of about 45 minutes I went from 5 cm to 8! They obviously cut off my Pitocin right away because that was just a little too much progress too fast!
For the next couple of hours I made slow, but gradual progress. However, during each contraction we would all listen & watch as Elyse's heartbeat would go from normal to extremely slow and it would always have a hard time rebounding after each contraction. We're not talking minor changes, we're talking a movement from around 120 bpm down to 60 bpm. They switched out the fetal monitor several times, trying to convince me that maybe they just got a "bad batch" of monitors that were having trouble properly registering Elyse's tiny heart. They moved me around to a variety of positions trying to get the heartrate to stabilize, but nothing seemed to be working for any extended period of time.
Looking back, I think they were simply trying to keep us all calm until the doctor on call could get out of surgery & come check on me herself...