We got to the hospital, parked, checked in, and were introduced to our labor and delivery nurse.
This is a crucial part of the labor process. A good nurse can offset a poor doctor and/or labor experience, a bad nurse can overshadow a good doctor and turn a labor from mediocre to unbearable. We lucked out and got the Holy Grail of nurses: an excellent one.
Her name was Lorraine, she was Irish, and she spent a good portion of her time running off assorted interns who kept inexplicably showing up at my bedside to perform unneccesary internal exams on me. One of them, who was doubting my ability to deliver what he was estimating to be an eight pound baby, she actually ushered out into the hall and read him the riot act.
From my bed, I could hear the phrase “proven pelvis” being thrown around a lot.
I loved her.
Even my doctor was strangely deferential to her, asking Nurse Lorraine’s opinion on what induction technique to attempt.
In the end, the good doctor and the excellent nurse decided to give me a dose of Misoprostol, which would hopefully cause my cervix to efface enough that a Pitocin drip could be started after, and have a better chance at successfully inducing labor. I was something like 3 cm dilated and 30% effaced when the dose was given, and the doctor told me she’d come back and check my progress in 4 hours.
Fine. I kept eyeballing that bag of Pitocin balefully, hating it, and wishing I could set it on fire with sheer force of will.
Failing that, I alternated between reading chapters of Hunger Games and sending out obnoxious Tweets:
And sometimes I would take fascinating pictures of my sterile environment:
But for all my silliness, and despite contractions that were regular and increasingly stronger, I didn’t think the Miso was doing anything. I figured the Pitocin would be started any moment now, all my breathing techniques would be ridiculed by the pain-in-a-drip bag, and I’d be begging for Stadol within the hour.
Then Nurse Lorraine told me my contractions were at the point where Pitocin couldn’t be started, since I was now officially in active labor, and it was like the heavens opened, and fat little cherubs came out to frolic and sing songs. No Pitocin! Labor had started! One tiny little pill put to off-label use had started what all the hiking and the teas and the spicy foods couldn’t!
The doctor materialized out of nowhere while I was eating an orange popsicle Lorraine had brought me. Lorraine ran the doctor off until I’d finished my popsicle.
Once I was done with my first caloric intake in 18 hours, the doctor checked my progress. I was now 5-6 cm dialated, and 90% effaced. She asked me if I minded her breaking my waters. I said, “Hell no, let’s get this show on the road!” So my waters were broken, and that’s when the first hiccup of the labor was discovered.
The amniotic fluid had meconium in it (for those of you who are visually-minded, think: the most disgusting split pea soup you’ve ever seen), so now a pediatrician from the NICU had to be present at the birth in case the baby ended up inhaling any of it during delivery. My doctor explained that I would need to stop all pushing once the head was delivered so she could suction out the nose and throat to see if the fluid was clear, or if there was meconium present. All clear would mean all was well; meconium in the fluid would mean NICU.