Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.
Finally I got saline locked and cleaned up and we went on our way to the actual L&D rooms. I think my nurse introduced herself, but I wasn't paying much attention. I made a point of asking her name later, but for the sake of this story we'll call her Night Nurse.
I asked if I could go in the shower and she said she'd go get a bag for my saline lock. So I handled the next few contractions leaning on the arms of a chair that happened to be in front of me. It was a chair with wheels, which was really annoying, but I managed to wedge it against the wall well enough for it to work. (I supposed they want the armchairs to have wheels in L&D in case somebody crashes and all the medical professionals have to rush in, pushing furniture aside as they go. But maybe they just like to be annoying.)
Then the nurse came back and I got bagged and we went to the bathroom, which was really not impressive. You know those labor tubs you see on the natural childbirth blogs? I did not get one of those. I got one that looked like your basic suburban home guest bathroom shower/tub combo.
I had been wearing two hospital gowns (one in front and one in back) for the trek from triage. Now, I am the sort of person who doesn't use the bathroom while her husband is taking a shower (this caused some problems during pregnancy, let me tell you), so you'd think I'd be reluctant to disrobe in front of a nurse. Nope. I was all, "Here, hold my beer" with the hospital gowns and clambered into the tub.
Since I was still having killer back labor, I asked if I could get a shower chair to sit backwards upon, thereby allowing the shower to hit my back with maximum effectiveness. Night Nurse said no. I said, "You're a hospital and you don't have shower chairs?" Her: "Well, we're not allowed to have them. Probably somebody slipped and fell and sued us once."
I didn't have enough energy to devote any more to being indignant about not getting a chair, so I didn't protest further. The nurse pretty much left us alone for a while after that. I apologized to Scott for my flagrant nakedness and he didn't care. I experimented with various positions in the tub and finally settled on standing, my back to the shower, clutching the tub rail with one hand and Scott's hand with the other. (He was standing next to the tub. He tried rubbing my back a few times and I told him to stop; it felt weird on top of the shower.)
At some point I asked Scott to start praying Hail Marys. I think that might have been while we were still in triage, actually. It was especially helpful during the tub part because the contractions were getting longer and I couldn't cope with a whole contraction at a time. So I coped for the length of one Hail Mary and then started over. (By the time I got out of the tub they were four Hail Marys long apiece, and remember my husband is a slow talker.)
After a certain amount of time standing in the tub contracting for up to four Hail Marys at a time, I got absolutely exhausted and decided that I needed more prayers if I was going to get through this without an epidural or general anesthesia or something. So I asked Scott what time it was and it was about 5:45. I decided that it was still a little too early to call our families and we could call them at 6:00. (I would later learn that my mother had been up rocking Matthew and praying Hail Marys and Our Fathers for she knew not what since 5:00.)
After way too many contractions, 6:00 finally came. I told Scott to call our families and he left the bathroom for a few minutes. I got down on my knees in the tub and leaned my elbows on the side. I was too exhausted to stand anymore. I tried praying Hail Marys myself but couldn't talk, so I just started vocalizing through the contractions. I don't know how to describe it beyond that. It wasn't screaming; it was actually sort of controlled, though not in a cerebral way. My primal brain knew what pitch was going to help me get through the contractions and I made noises at that pitch every time one of them came.
Scott came back into the bathroom after a few minutes to say that everybody was praying for me and his mother said that considering I'd gone into labor at 1:00 and was dilated to 5 or 6 by 5:00, I probably didn't have long to go. I dismissed this optimism. I was going to be in labor forever, opinions of mothers with seven children notwithstanding.
To be continued...