We arrived at Mercy (hospital) around 5 am and parked the car. I didn't feel the need to jump out in front of the hospital doors and the walk from the lot wasn't very far. I did have to stop a few times on the way up to Labor and Delivery to deal with my contractions. Once there, check in was quick as I had per-registered and we had been there 2 months earlier with preterm contractions. We were sent to the triage room (the same one we were in 2 months earlier) and I changed into a gown. We meet our nurse, Maureen, and she hooked me up to the monitor to check my contractions. I had to lay in bed for this and it was pretty uncomfortable. She told us Jen, our midwife, would be in around 7am and that I could wait for her to come to be checked for dilation, or that I could be checked now. I told her I would wait... I didn't want to be disappointed if there wasn't much progress and I felt like the longer I could go the better. I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and needed to use the rest room. I was unhooked form the monitors and allowed to go the bathroom. This is when I noticed that I was bleeding a bit.... and that made me realize that this was really going to be happening today. I had told the nurse that my contractions felt much better when I was in the shower so she got me set up to use the shower off of the triage wing. I probably spent close to an hour in there with Tony sitting in a chair in the corner. It was right around 7 that I decided to go back to my triage room, as I knew Jen would be arriving soon.
Soon enough she showed up and it was time to check to see if there was any progress. She told me I was (only!) a one (Tony recalls it being 2 though) and confirmed I was in active labor. We would be staying! (Thank God because I had always heard stories about hospitals sending laboring mothers home if they weren't very dilated) They told us it would be a bit until there was a room available and suggested we walk around the halls for a while. After a couple quick phone calls to Tony's sister Denise and my mom, we did just that. I was in a hospital gown, so they gave me a robe. I slipped back into my flips flops and took off for the halls. I remember stopping in front of a big window and watching as the sun came up. Everything was so surreal. I took it in as much as I could. One lap around the halls and a stop in the bathroom and I had had enough. Not long after that it was time to move to our room. It was time for a shift change so we met our new nurse Ashley. We had briefly met her when we had our scare at 32 weeks. I remember thinking that she seemed young that time, but this time I felt more at ease. She mentioned remembering us from last time which also reassured me.
We got settled into our room. Ashley had me in the bed so she could put me on the monitor for a few minutes. Our plan all along was to birth as natural as possible. This meant minimal monitoring (as long as all was well and safe), no IVs and no meds. We talked about me having something to eat or drink. Ashley filled my giant hospital issued water jug with her "special elixir" She wouldn't reveal what was in it; but it tasted like a mix of fruit juices and seltzer water. Good stuff. I hadn't spent long in the bed when I was asking to use the shower again. I was in and out of the shower probably 2 mores times and had one more bathroom trip. I had packed some of my own clothes to labor in ( think it was a nursing top and a jersey style skirt) but my modesty went right out the window. After my showers I wrapped a towel around my waist and called it good (honestly I am not sure if I even did that). Ashley suggested I try laboring on my hands and knees for a while. She adjusted the bed (that thing had some crazy configurations) so that I could lean up against the top of it and covered my backside with a sheet. I was having some serious back pain during this phase. Tony and Ashley would rub my lower back for me and applied counter pressure during my contractions. I remembering feeling like my nurse was a godsend. She was so intuitive about what I needed and I felt such a strong feeling of ease with her around. One of the great parts about the hospital we were at is that your nurse is assigned solely to you; meaning Ashley was in the room with us practically the entire time I labored. While I wanted Tony in eye shot at all times, I really felt myself drawn to the women in the room (nurse Ashley and my midwife Jen).