December 2, 5:45 AM: 7 cm
I don’t remember how many doses of the epidural I had gotten at this point. There was another internal exam, and the doctor said I was dilated at 7cm.
Dr. Jayjay said it would progress more quickly now, that the road to 5 cm was usually what took long. Now that we’d passed that hurdle, things would move faster.
I drifted in and out of consciousness: asleep when the anesthesia kicked in, awake and crying when it wore off. I couldn’t get up and walk anymore, so all I could do was lock Oneal’s hands in a death grip, our hands moving back and forth. I couldn’t move, so I rocked my pelvis while the contractions lasted, hoping the movement would dull the pain. Then the anesthesiologist would come back and inject the epidural. Within ten minutes, I would calm down as the pain subsided, and I would manage some sleep.
December 2, 7:30 AM: 7 cm
The whole time, Oneal kept family and friends updated on my condition. He had private chat threads with our immediate family, with my brother and Dante, with Mary Ann and Trish. Periodically, he and Dr. Jayjay would go out to the waiting area and update my mom on what was happening. My brother had gone home a few hours earlier. Once in a while, Dr. Jayjay or one of the other doctors would do an internal exam, to check how dilated I was, and if the baby had moved down.
Dr. Jayjay explained that the baby needed to move down as I dilated. She explained his position in my womb, and how he would position himself at the birth canal. She had visual aids too! I saw that at some point while I was conscious.
December 2, 09:40 AM: 9 cm
It was the home stretch! We must have cheered when I hit 9 cm. Just a little more to go, we all thought.
Unfortunately, that also meant that the contractions were exponentially more painful. When the anesthesia wore off, the pain consumed me. It felt like my insides had swollen to twice, three times their normal size, and that with each contraction, there were tiny cracks all over them, all at once. There was no space for thought. There was no room for feeble cries. With each contraction, each wave of pain, I screamed. There must have been ten people in the labor room at some point, watching me and my contractions. I remember thinking, as I screamed, “Why are they all watching? Is this unusual? Is something wrong? Haven’t they heard a pregnant woman scream before?” I had no breath, no energy to say any of that, because I just wanted the pain to be gone. I think I started crying at this point.
Two hours passed, and my labor stopped progressing. The baby still hadn’t moved down. He wasn’t in distress or anything; he just wasn’t moving. My contractions were still very regular, but Dr. Jayjay did seem a bit alarmed at how much pain I seemed to be experiencing. My water hadn’t broken either. “Let’s observe. One more hour,” she said.