As I shared in Part I, I was dilated 4.5 cm in triage, so they got us set up in a labor and delivery room with our wonderful nurse Christine just after 7pm. My mom (my unofficial doula) arrived and started heating up socks filled with rice to place against my lower back to relieve some of the pain from the back labor while I got my penicillin drip. Socks with uncooked rice, guys! Helps so much! I don’t know if it’s just me or if everyone has this experience but the penicillin STINGS. It stings so bad! The pain would shoot up my arm and was almost worse than the contractions. So Christine made the drip go really slowly so that it wouldn’t hurt so much. The downside was that I had to be hooked up for what felt like eternity in order to receive the full dose.
When I was finally done with the antibiotics and had been monitored for the fetal heartbeat, we noticed that my contractions had slowed down. So Daniel and I took a long walk around the halls to speed things up again. When the contractions started to intensify, I opted to try laboring in the tub for awhile so that the water could relieve some of the back labor pain. The warm water did help with the pain, but it felt like I had gotten TOO comfortable. Again my contractions had spaced out, so we decided to get me out and try laboring on the birth ball for a bit. Daniel and I prayed a Rosary as I sat on the birth ball and I looked at a holy card of Our Lady and the Christ Child that Abbey sent me.
As it neared 11pm, I started to feel exhausted. My contractions were strong but not regular. I remember apologizing to Daniel and my mom about how boring the labor was. I really wanted to lay down and rest, but I was worried that would slow things down and just make me more tired in the long run. But since it was time to get more antibiotics and be monitored, we decided I should rest while I was hooked up to the IV. By this point my contractions were difficult with intense back labor. I would breathe into each one while praying Hail Marys and Daniel stayed by my side every minute, encouraging me and helping me remember to relax and let my body work.
It felt great to lie down on my side for a bit while I received the second dose of penicillin, but just as I feared, the contractions slowed down and I was antsy to get out of bed and start walking again. Midnight came and went, so I knew our Gwen wasn’t going to be a May 29th baby. After what felt like forever, my second dose of penicillin was finished and we could get up and walk. I remember telling Daniel, “I’m just so tired. I don’t remember feeling like this last time.” We consulted Dr. B. who offered to give me something to help me sleep for a bit. Daniel and I talked it over and he was worried that I wouldn’t actually get good rest and that it would just slow everything down with an end result of being more exhausted than before. So we decided to soldier on.
I had been snacking on and off and drinking water and orange juice but I was hungry for something more substantial, so our nurse brought in a sandwich tray and I devoured a ham and cheese. That perked me up a little bit and I was having some good contractions in the rocking chair. I kept getting up and walking around our room and the halls because that seemed like the best way to make progress. My contractions were getting longer and closer together and I couldn’t pray Hail Marys anymore while breathing through them. I switched to a combination of counting down from 20 with each slow breath (by 0 the contraction would be over) and praying to favorite saints with each breath “St. Lucy, pray for us. St. John of God, pray for us. St. Michael, pray for us. Bl. John Paul II, pray for us...”
I got back into the tub to get a little break from the back labor pains. It was almost time to get another dose of penicillin and I was getting so discouraged and tired. Lucy’s birth had been so fast and I hadn’t expected another long and painful labor like I had with Benjamin.
During labor I am very calm and quiet. I go inside my head and breathe through the contractions and don’t move or make noise. But the pain and exhaustion were becoming overwhelming. The back labor and pain in my thighs with each contraction was getting unbearable and I knew it meant that Gwen was likely in a weird position like Benjamin was. I didn’t want to go through that kind of pain again. I looked up at Daniel and just burst into tears. “I can’t do this! I’m not going to be able to do this! I’m so tired and the labor isn’t going anywhere! I don’t know what to do!” I might have also said really reasonable things like, “Do something!” and “Fix this!” He held my hand and looked straight into my eyes and said, “I know you can do this. You can do this, Haley.” It was almost 4am and it didn’t feel like we were anywhere close to meeting our baby…