4:00pm Sunday, we've just checked into the hospital. Not much happening just yet, so I started to read, distract Tori, and wander in and out to update and entertain my family, who was camped out in the waiting room. You have to ring a bell and get buzzed into the hall every time you go out, so that happened a few dozen times that night, but after the first time or two, they knew who I was and I didn't have to announce my presence anymore.
Contractions weren't happening with any regularity, and it had been over 12 hours since water-breakage, and they wanted it going to reduce infection risk. So they gave her pitocin, a synthetic version of the hormone that induces contractions, and we went to work. That is, after the fifth person trying to stick the IV in gave up and called the anesthesiologist to do it, finally making it happen. And when they came, they came HARD, and pretty frequently. And that's when this turned into one of the more awful experiences I've had.
Before you get all indignant and contraction-nazi on me, dear child-bearing reader, I fully realize that this night was far worse for my wife than it was for me. But the fact that someone else was having a worse time than I was doesn't mean it wasn't awful, so save it - guys don't get to express this part of labor very often.
In this contraction stage, there's no pushing to do, nothing that the woman is supposed to do, per se, so the goal is to relax, breathe through it, and allow it to happen. In between contractions, the goal is to relax as much as possible, save up some energy for when you really do need to do some work. So my role in this is to try and help her relax. Except she's in terrible, and ever-increasing, pain, with ever-decreasing intervals between it. We spent about seven straight hours doing really powerful contractions, with two minutes or so in between them. Remember that day in practice in high school when the coach made you do sprints, and didn't give you much recovery time in between? When you get to the 3rd or 4th one, it starts to really suck. Then do that for seven hours. That's what I had to witness, and was powerless to stop. My only job was to put pressure on her back, because that helped ease the pain.
So we're talking about doing this well past 3am. Remember, we've both been up since 4am the previous morning. I'm horrendously tired, and time is CRAWLING. My back and neck really hurt, but I'm not in a situation where I'm allowed to talk about pain. I'm hungry, and feel like I need to sneak food because my wife isn't allowed to eat. I'm not allowed to sleep, I need to be there for support. And on top of my discomfort, I am watching the woman I love suffer for HOURS, with no way to fix it. Everything about this sucks.
3am, time to check on progress. Despite all that pain and contraction, there's barely anything happening. She was about 10% of the way dilated when we checked in, and at 3am, had only made it to about 20%. Tori decided she had to make a change, and we called for an epidural.
While they are inserting an epidural into your wife's spine, do NOT take that opportunity to google "epidural." I did, and it was a big mistake. I won't go into details, but it did not bring me the comfort it eventually brought her, I'll tell you.
The upswing of it was, by 4:30am, we finally got to sleep for a few precious hours, and Tori was not in pain anymore.
Stay tuned for Part III!