(Read Chapter 1 here.)
The room we were given had a most spectacular view. Unfortunately, I would spend most of my time there paralyzed from the waist down and therefore bedridden. But my mother and TobyJoe were able to look out over the East River. We had a view of the 59th Street Bridge, Roosevelt Island, Long Island City, Brooklyn and boats moving to and from someplace different. I thought about the cars moving along the 59th Street Bridge and I wondered if any of them knew we existed, knew what was happening. Probably not. I promised myself that the next time I was on the 59th Street Bridge, I would make sure to think about an unknown woman giving birth from that very room.
TobyJoe made himself as comfortable as possible in a chair by the window and insisted my mother take the chair that folds down into a bed. After watching the two of them take part in the kindest of arguments, my mother finally gave in.
A nurse came in and hooked me up to a device similar to the one shown below. (Image taken from the Philips Medical Systems Web site.)
(Usually, the pregnant person wrapped up in it looks a lot less perky, however. Also, add about 40 pounds to that chick.)
At New York Presbyterian, every patient is represented by a frame on a monitor in every room so the nurses can keep track of everyone’s progress (both mother and baby) no matter where they are. We, too, were able to watch the graphically depicted contractions for every other woman giving birth that night, which made for some interesting conversation during the wee hours of the night. For example, much later, whenever room 9 began screaming bloody murder, I was able to watch her contractions fly off the chart and imagine things to come.
A doctor came in just after midnight to administer the Cervidil. The process hurt a little bit. It felt like a bad period cramp. At that point I found out that I was still only 2 centimeters dilated. The Cervidil should help things along. The cream is inserted up into the cervix. Its only job is to thin out the cervix (effacement) and ready it for the Pitocin later. It’s supposed to be a painless process, which is why they hit you with a sweet dose of AmbienCR right after insertion. I had been told by several women that the first night of induction brought with it one of the best night’s rest they’d ever had.
(Foreshadow: I turned out not to be one of those women.)
It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes Cervidil triggers labor, something I was kind of hoping for as it would cut down on the time I’d spend in a hospital bed. Another rarer and more painful side-effect, is that it can trigger an intense and constant contraction but not actually induce labor. I didn’t know about that until later.
Once given the Cervidil, I could not use the bathroom for two hours. Since Cervidil is a cream, if a woman were to stand up too soon, it could drain out. At least that was my understanding. So, if I did have to use the bathroom before two hours were up, I would have to do so using a bedpan, and that didn’t sound all that appealing. (All fear of peeing into a metal container fell by the wayside later on. That was nothing compared to what I would learn to overlook later.)
I must have been hormonally challenged because I spent the next hour thinking about Murray at home by himself. I begged my mother and TobyJoe to go home and get a good night’s rest. And I really meant it; I really wanted them both to get a decent night’s rest, especially since TobyJoe was about the spend the next two nights on a cold, hard floor. But I also wanted someone there with Murray. I know now that this was entirely irrational, absurd even. But he became my focal point. Perhaps thinking about him kept my mind off what I was about to endure.
Truth be told, I still have no idea why I care so deeply for that cat. Perhaps it’s because he was my buddy throughout my entire pregnancy. Or maybe it’s because he spent most of his youth growing along with my belly.
Even after my persistent badgering, it was decided that sending my mother out driving through the city by herself in the middle of the night was a dumb idea. TobyJoe made a nest on the floor. My mother made herself as comfortable as possible on the chair next to my bed.
And of course an hour after the doctor gave me the Cervidil I had to pee. Normally holding my urine in for two hours wouldn’t be a problem for me, but the IV was pumping me so full of fluid, it all made a beeline right to my bladder. There was no way I could wait another hour. If I had to use a bedpan, then so be it.
I paged the nurse.
“I realize we’re not supposed to use the bathroom, but I really have to go.”
The nurse spoke with the doctor and the two of them decided that I could get up to use the bathroom early.
They unhooked the fetal monitor, my monitor, and my IV bag, and I hobbled to the bathroom.
And I peed. Forever.
When I returned to my bed, the nurse hooked me back up to the plethora of gadgets, and I waited for the Ambien to do its thing. To this day, I am not sure why it happened. I blame myself for having to pee, of course. But fifteen minutes later, I started to have a constant and very painful contraction. The frame that represented my room on the monitor – room number 8 – was maxed out entirely. It looked as if our room alone was being hit by an earthquake. I looked over the monitor while clutching my upper abdomen. All the other women looked so peaceful!
I turned to my mother. “If this is what they consider painless, I’m screwed when it finally comes to giving birth.”
Meanwhile, my fuzzy focal point was across a bridge, over a river, through a city and up three flights of stair.
It became abundantly clear: I was going to need a lot more AmbienCR to get me through the night.