I had always joked to friends that Janet and I would take BART to get from our new home in Berkeley across the Bay to CPMC (the San Francisco hospital we scheduled to deliver at). And, despite having read “The Expectant Father’s” overview of how to deliver a baby in an emergency, it offered little comfort as I contemplated the prospect of rush hour traffic on the bridge. Thankfully, no boiling water or string was necessary and we got to the hospital in ~ 40 minutes. One point stressed during our birthing class was that the “birth plan” is really just a wish list: in spite of what we wanted for the birth, we were ready to roll with whatever happened, and knew not to get too hung up on what we wanted to happen. Turns out, this was another one of those understatements!
When we arrived they sent us to the admit area. By this point Janet’s contractions were around three minutes apart and close to two minutes long. But when the nurse checked her she indicated that Janet was “barely a finger”. This was incredibly disappointing as Janet really felt she was further along than that, and according to what I’d read, the earlier in labor mom arrives to the hospital, the greater the chance of the things we were hoping to avoid (narcotics, a C-section, petosin, etc.). The nurse said that normally she would give Janet something for the pain and send her home, but she gave us the option of staying despite being “very early” and left the room while we talked it over.
However, this did not jive with Janet’s intuition, and thankfully we listened to that rather than a nurse we had not met before. At this point there was not much room for “talking” as Janet’s contractions were incredibly intense, and the methodic yoga breathing and acupressure I had been doing were simply overwhelmed by the pain she was experiencing. I had always hoped we would be able to avoid using drugs for our birth, but seeing Janet in agony made it very difficult to hold on to that hope.