In addition to the stubborn cervix, I was anxious about getting a sub for work and my rapidly deteriorating liver numbers. In retrospect, I don't know why I even bothered about work since in a few days I'd be getting a layoff notice anyways (not surprising, really). The nurses continued to take my vitals and draw blood every few hours. Its funny how the function of a supremely complex system, like my body, got reduced to numbers. Numbers are easy to talk about and give a nice abstract distance. My preeclampsia was turning into HELLPP-- an acronym for something to do with the liver turning itself inside out. The doctors told me that they don't know why this happens to pregnant women-- so the names were almost as meaningless as the numbers. Thursday evening fell and blended seamlessly into Thursday night and then Friday morning. Hospital time is eerily like Casino time-- where the spinning hands of the clock are the only change.
Around noonish, they discovered that one of the cervix-softening treatments had worked and I was finally dilated to three cm. An Obgyn came and broke my water. They put me back on pitocin- to get my contractions started again- which had been halted because my cervix hadn't responded. At some point my mom arrived, and so did Dutch's mom and sister. After days of pain and waiting, things started changing at a dizzying rate. Because there was a real chance I may have a c-section, the anasthesiologist paid me a visit and threaded the epidural catheter in my back. After she left, my left leg, then my right leg had crazy pins and needles then promptly went numb. Up til now, each procedure and medication had been carefully explained, and I had been told the catheter was there for future doses. I was quite alarmed and I told the nurses. Turns out the anasthesiologist had put a "tester" drug and hadn't told me. She apologized later. An hour later, with more pins and needles, my legs returned to me- tho' they were mum about where they had been all that time.
The first contractions were actually fun. After hearing about them in all the classes and literature, they were finally happening to me. They started increasing my pitocin levels, and suddenly I had to concentrate on my breathing, otherwise the pain was excruciating. It was as if the breathing opened up the pain valves and allowed it to pass through, without a hitch-- not that it was comfortable. A few times I was not prepared and and those little valves shut and the pain pooled and i'd writhe and cry out just like the movies. Dutch would stroke my arm and my mom reminded me to breath- it was so easy to forget and counter- intuitive. After an hour and a half of contractions, the pitocin machine was set to "50" and I was having one mauve contraction after another, and they were merging into five minute long contractions that I couldn't handle. (The birthing instructor promised they wouldn't last longer than a minute).
I forgave the anasthesiologist when she returned with her special love juice. It was better than the tester. My lowerhalf was whisked by angels to a happy teletubby landscape without any pins and needles. I was on oxygen by this time, because the Sea Monkey, who had been going along gamely with the program up to this point was showing signs of distress. Perhaps she caught a whiff of air. The pitter patter of her little heart had been a constant reassurance since I was admitted to the ER.
Suddenly I was 8 cm. Then I felt, unmistakably through the teletubby haze that there was a head sitting in my nethers. The doctors checked again. I was at 10.
At this point I could barely feel the contractions and I pushed when they told me.