I had recently moved out of Manhattan to the suburbs of New Jersey, but I decided to keep seeing my ob-gyn in the city since I felt so comfortable with her. In the last month of my pregnancy, I would make the hour commute to her office every week only to hear, "Not this weekend. Nothing is happening." I was usually disappointed, but it was comforting to hear those words on the weekend before my due date since she was going to be out of town.
On that Friday evening, I didn't feel well. I climbed into bed to try and sleep it off, but by 1:30 a.m. I still couldn't sleep. I started looking at the clock every time I didn't feel well and realized it was happening every five minutes. I woke up my husband, Peter, and asked him to time what I thought might be contractions. Instead, he leapt out of bed and jumped into the shower to get ready for the trip to the hospital! While Peter shampooed and conditioned, I timed the contractions myself. They were now coming every four minutes like clockwork.
At 4:30 a.m., we made the long drive to the hospital, which of course was packed. Since my ob-gyn was out of town, the on-call doctor examined me and determined that I was having contractions and had effaced. But since I wasn't dilated, she sent me home. I asked her, "How will I know when I should come back? The contractions are so painful already." She replied, "They'll get worse." Back to New Jersey we went.
By 12:30 the next afternoon, the contractions were most definitely worse, so we headed back to the hospital. At that point, I was 3 centimeters dilated. But since there were no beds available yet, I was instructed to walk around for an hour or so while I waited. Walk around for an hour?! I'd be lucky if I could walk to the delivery room down the hall! After several protests, the nurses on duty miraculously found me a room.
By 3 p.m., I got what I had been craving since Friday night -- an epidural! I was also given Pitocin to bring on heavier contractions. Over the next 12 hours, I had a lot of trouble with the epidural. First it was fine. Then it was too strong. One time I was so numb that my leg fell off the table and I didn't even know it! Back and forth this went. The two anesthesiologists were so busy that when I'd call to tell them that the medicine was starting to wear off, I'd end up feeling all of the contractions before they arrived to adjust the painkiller. At one point, Peter almost came to blows with one of them. While I was happy to have his support, I also knew that the last person in the world he should be in a fight with is the anesthesiologist during my labor!