We weren't going anywhere!
Hollywood always seems to glorify, simplify and otherwise change the TV birthing experience to make it seem more stereotypical, funny, less graphic (thankfully) and clean. This, at least in my experience, is not really the case. It's true that the staff are friendly (ours in fact were awesome) and the hospital is accommodating, so the "feel" of the experience is right, but the details is where Hollywood gets it wrong.
...“looks like you guys aren’t going home anytime soon” says the first nurse we met. "Yes!" I thought to myself, "We don’t have to go home and try again later!"
This had been a fear of both Charlotte and I since our prenatal class. Many people can tell you that hospitals will not take you in just because you're in labor. You have to be in labor, yes, but you also have to be far enough along... (graphic info warning) … at least 5cm dilated typically, or they send you home. Also, at this point her water had not broken either... real life 2, Hollywood 0.
...“looks like you guys aren’t going home anytime soon, you're already 7cm dilated, we need to get you into a room right away.”
Charlotte at this point is beyond hearing, she is struggling to answer the nurse's questions in between the now very painful contractions and I am left to converse with the staff and help Charlotte into a wheelchair so we can head to a delivery room. Along the way the nurse looks to me and says that once Charlotte hits 8cm dilated they will no longer be able to consider an epidural, so if we want to get one it's now or never.
Charlotte and I had discussed this at length, on direction of our prenatal class teacher and decided, based on what the available information was that the epidural would be decided upon in situ, but we had no problem with it. I told the nurse as much so she called for the man with the needle.
...probably the longest minutes of my life...
Thinking back to that few minutes between getting Charlotte up and out of the admitting stall and into the delivery room, it was maybe a total of 2min. Add on top of that another 5 or 10 minutes waiting for the man with the needle, it was maybe 15 minutes at most. Those 15 minutes were probably the longest minutes of my life.
Charlotte was having a rough time focusing at this point, the contractions were frequent and painful and she was sucking back the laughing gas each time a contraction arrived. I was told I had but two jobs to do: first, keep her calm and breathing and second, do not let Charlotte continuously drink in the laughing gas, as it was only to be used during a contraction. These were not easy tasks.
First of all, if anyone ever thought the angry, yelling, insulting, soon-to-be TV mothers were a good indication of what woman in labor is like, I'm here to tell you, at least in our case, it is not. Charlotte wasn't mad or yelling (in anger) or any of that, she was in pain, and scared, confused and panicky. Charlotte has a history of anxiety and is subject from panic attacks from time to time and this was one of those times.
...concentrating on my voice, my voice telling her to breath...
She told me later that she remembers vaguely getting tunnel vision and only concentrating on my voice, my voice telling her to breath, breath, breath, like so many times we had done it at home during previous attacks. Finally, the breathing returned to normal (as normal as it could be during contractions) and the man with the needle had arrived.
I sit charlotte up, her gown comes of (modesty is another thing Hollywood never gets right, although to be fair it would not be able to be shown on television if they didn’t take liberties in this way), and the man with the needle sets up the epidural. Amazingly within 15 or 20 minutes Charlotte is lucid, comfortable and chatty, and I can now relax and call the family... it's now 330am on February 17 2016.
About 30min later all my family members and Charlottes had been woken up and informed that our baby (for we never did manage to find out the sex during the pregnancy) was on its way. We were both tired, but in good spirits and now it was time to wait. Charlotte's family, being from the northern interior of BC had a long trek, so they were already getting packed up to leave for the lower mainland.
For the next few hours nurses and doctors came and went, I was told to keep Charlotte sitting evenly and off her feet, as the epidural drugs like to shift with gravity and can cause people to collapse if left standing for too long.
Nothing was really happening and Charlotte's water had not broken yet, so after a few hours they decided to break it for her. This was followed but more uneventful waiting. Finally, around 930am, our doctor decided enough was enough, it was time to get that baby out!