So, we’re in triage, and as far as we’re concerned, it’s all systems go. Baby is coming. Let’s get this party started. But there’s a problem. They won’t let you into a birthing suite until you’re 4cm dilated, and Erin was only at 1cm. To make matters worse, they said we had to go walk around for an hour, and then come back, at which point they’d check Erin again.
Of course, at this point, Erin can barely walk. There’s no way we want to go home and walk around the block. So with a hint of disbelief, I asked, “Where?” They clarified, and said they didn’t want us leaving the hospital. They said she was definitely in labor, but we needed to enlist the aid of gravity. They told us to walk around the 5th floor and look at the art. Uh, okay.
So off we went, Erin shuffling and waddling, crippled every minute or two by a contraction. We had to carry a bucket around in case she vomited. She did. She kept saying she wasn’t going to make it and she wanted to go back to triage, and I had to talk her into walking “just a little bit further.” This sucked, too. No fun. But you do what you’ve gotta do.
After an hour we went back, and this time the on call doctor took a look. We were very happy to discover that Dr. Koala was on call. She wasn’t Erin’s OB/GYN, but we’d met her previously and really liked her no-nonsense style. She took a look under the hood, and said “This is ridiculous. You should be a lot further along. I think I know how to fix this. I’m going to do something, and it’s going to hurt, but we need to get this show on the road.” Sure enough, it hurt, but Erin sprang open to 4cm, and it was time to move to the birthing suite. There was just one question – what was our birth plan? Did we want to go natural or use the marvels of modern anesthesia? And if we wanted to enlist science, when?
Erin and I had previously agreed to try for “light and late,” meaning a light epidural as late as possible. But Erin had already gone through a lot. The triage nurse said “Look. Now is not the time for you to be a hero. We want you to have your baby the way you want, but there’s no sense in being in pain just for the sake of being in pain.” I told Erin we should get the epidural as soon as she wanted it, forget about any “plan” that we had. Erin told the nurse that she’d think about it on the way to the birthing suite. And about ten seconds later, she got hit by a big contraction. Enough. Epidural, ASAP, please. The nurse told us she’d page the anesthesiologist, and he’d be by the birthing suite in about 20 minutes.
We gathered our things, and shuffled off to the birthing suite, where we’d be until the baby arrived. Would it be quick? Or would we be in there for a marathon 36-hour session? Hoping for the former, we walked down the hall and entered the birthing suite to find Erin’s Mom, arms akimbo, with a smile glued to her face that was half elation, half panic.