Once in the triage room I changed into a hospital gown and was hooked up to the monitors. I was indeed having semi-regular contractions (and effacing rapidly) but I was only 2cm dilated. (Side note: I am still very bummed about not making it longer at home--I had planned to labor at least until 4cm in the comfort of my own bed/bath/couch, etc.) Anyway, they gave us the choice to try to walk it out and move things along or go back home. At this point, going home seemed a bit silly so we opted to try to walk it out.
So Matt got me up out of the bed (and grabbed a bucket to carry with us as I was still feeling very nauseated) to walk the halls of the Birth Suites. We walked for 30 minutes and then came back to be checked. While I didn't dilate much more, I had significantly effaced. So we loaded up to walk for 30 more minutes. I had to stop almost every time I had a contraction--so much for the vigorous walking Dr. Benton suggested! After our 2nd round of walking it did appear that I was beginning to dilate more and I was almost 100% effaced. They offered for me to walk some more but I just simply couldn't. They also offered to bring in the birthing ball and stool--I decided that would be a better option. I sat on the ball for the next 30 minutes or so--it actually felt pretty good. The nurses were really worried that my water would break at any second so that's really what I was looking/hoping for. When they came back for a 3rd check I had definitely dilated to 3cm. They gave me the option to go ahead and be admitted or go home. We decided it was time to bite the bullet and be admitted.
After getting settled in Room 317 they offered me some pain medicine. I was SO tired that we decided I should take a dose to help me get some rest while I could. The labor was still really continuing almost exclusively in my back and the pain was some of the worst I've felt in my life. But before they gave me the medicine, I did decide I wanted to take 1 more bath. And I did! But got very nauseated and sick before I could make it into the warm water. It was terrible but I didn't have a choice. Once I got in the water was soothing, I stayed in as long as I could but finally decided it was time to get some relief.
At this point it was about 1 or 2 in the morning. The pain medicine worked quickly. I remember the nurse doing intake and asking some questions and me not really knowing if I was answering her or not. I slowly drifted off into sleep. After about an hour the medicine was wearing off--we opted for a round two to continue to let me rest. In the meantime, we also decided to have me sleep on my side with one leg propped to try to help labor progress. I was so groggy it didn't much matter. All I remember is that it stormed at some point in the night. I ended up taking a 3rd round of pain medicine (I probably shouldn't have taken so much in retrospect) and then opting to go ahead and get the epidural for some more permanent relief. At about 6am Dr. Harper (ha!) came in to administer the epidural--I have never felt relief so great as I did after that moment. It wasn't bad at all (though a really weird thing not to feel your own legs).
At shift change our nurse for the day Jenna Harper (crazy!) came in to take good care of me for the rest of the day. She and Dr. Thomas came in at about the same time to check on my progress and see what we were in for. At the time of the epidural I was probably about 6cm dilated which was almost to my goal of waiting until we hit 6 or 7cm before getting the heavy drugs! Dr. Thomas also made the decision to go ahead and break my water--thank goodness I'd already received the epidural! When she did, however, there was meconium in the fluid--this meant that a team from the NICU would have to be present at the birth to suction the baby as soon as she was born in hopes that she wouldn't swallow any of the fluid. Bummer. But she also said she could feel a head full of hair!
Once my water broke we tried to get me comfortable and get as much rest as possible. We flipped from side to side to try to progress dilation more rapidly. At about 10am Jenna thought we might actually be ready to push--I was feeling a lot of pressure REALLY low for most of the morning. Baby girl was dropped and ready for most of the morning. But when Dr. Thomas came to check she said that we actually had a little bit more work to do--my cervix was still not completely dilated on BOTH sides. So we changed my position several times--tried to sit me straight up and even things out.
Somewhere around 12:00pm-ish it was finally time to push!