Saturday, April 28, 2012

#^$%@^%! We'll Take That Epidural To Go!

Nothing happened overnight on the 1 mg of Prostaglandin they had given me the evening before.  "I have really slow labours." I reassured everyone. 

"1 - 2 cm."  the midwife said.  "Just what I expected."  I said.  "My births are quick and easy but my labours usually take hours."

I was an old pro at this, you see.

So that, after 2 more mgs of Prostaglandin at 10 AM, Damon and I ate a huge breakfast and went for a walk outside.  Been there, done that.  No need to spend the day in the room. 

We were going for a second breakfast of sugary muffins when I realised that the pains were not only fairly intense (not expecting them, I hadn't noticed!) but also, Damon informed me, fairly regular at 4 minutes and lasting over 30 seconds.

The last thing I clearly remember is walking past all the construction workers on break at the cafe and trying not to look like I was in too too much labour.

And then trying to convince the midwife on the ward, Julie, that I really was going into labour quickly. 

"You're still smiling," she reassured me.  "We know to start worrying when you stop smiling."

I believe I stopped smiling fairly quickly after that.

I also believe that Julie stopped worrying about giving my roommate morphine for her mild pre-labour pains and concentrated on finding me a birth suite.

My waters broke on the ward.  ("Oh, my waters never break on their own," I remember telling them the night before.  Really, my labours never progress without a little artificial intervention.")

Julie tried to get me some pain meds.  Which was easier than finding a doctor.

"Would you like some paracetamol and codeine?" she asked me. 

Really?  My roommate's getting morphine for mild back pains and I get paracetamol for labour?

"What I'd LIKE is an epidural, but if I have to play the game, I'll start with the codeine."  I replied.

"We just can't find a doctor to write up a prescription for the morphine."  Julie answered in sympathy.

Really, I'm cool with skipping straight to the epidural, I reminded her.

But she was off trying to convince a doctor I needed a birth suite.

I started swearing soon after that. 

"Fuck these really really hurt.  FUck/  Fuck/  FUcking fuck fuck."   With a few Jesus fuck fucks thrown in.

I was starting to scare my roommate.

I remember Damon answering his mobile phone in the middle of all this and informing me that he just needed to run out for a moment to drop the car off at the dealership.


"You walk out of this room now and you don't need to come back."  I told him.

Turns out it was more than a threat.  He would have missed it.

Something about a wheelchair and zooming down the hall and the doctor on the phone turning around to see that I really was in labour.  And possibly delivering.

A freight elevator.

An empty room.

"Can you get out of the wheelchair, love?"

"Not happening."

"How about now?"

"Nope.  Not happening."

The contractions came so fast that I just hunkered down into a deep dark space inside myself and decided not to move.

"YOu're a woman.  YOu can DO this."  she insisted.

ANd so I somehow made it onto the bed.

I don't recall a lot.

I do recall that the midwife Julie handed me off to looked like she was about 16.

I have enough of a sense of humour to appreciate this even as I feel like I am dying.

The look I shot Damon was one of resignation.

I do remember that that much vaunted nitrous oxide everyone went on about doesn't do a thing once you're in full-blown labour.  Suck on this my ass!  (Although I believe the phrase was actually "take a deep breath and relax, love, not suck on this.)

I sucked though.  Except it was harder than you would think.  My brain was going, this is SO not going to help at all.  My brain was also going, WHIPPETS, do the drugs sweetheart, drugs are your friends.  But my brain had also decided just to shut itself up into the deep primal space and not move.

"Not happening." 

"Can you?...."


I felt like I was thrashing in agony in the pits of hell, making a scene, not cooperating at all.

Damon says I was actually stone cold still and barely responsive, having retreated inside myself.

I tried, I really did.

I knew I had to follow instructions to get this done with.

I was the happiest catatonic person alive when the midwife announced - somewhat surprised - that I was only 3 cm dilated.

Arm out.  Here's the vein.  WHere the hell is that anesthetist?  Epidural please so that I can actually ENJOY the rest of this delivery thank you very much.

SO psyched for the epidural.  SO psyched for the epidural.

Not moving fast enough people.  Not moving fast enough.

Why does noone believe me when I tell them I am in labour?

"I'm only three centimetres dilated and I need an epidural because I feel the need to push." I told them.  Honestly ladies, this hurts.

So I pushed out of spite.

And Ian's head popped out 18 minutes after they'd told me I was only 3 cm.

SO much for that friggin' epidural then.  (Damon really did tell Julie on the way home that we'd take that epidural to go!)

I was pretty pissed but also pretty resigned by then.  I wasn't getting the drugs and so I might as well get it over with.

ANd the contractions had stopped.  Blessed relief.

"Now stop pushing, love, rest a bit and wait for the contractions to start again."

Are you KIDDING me?  I was having none of that contraction shit again.

ANd so I pushed anyway.  WIthout a contraction.  BEFORE another one would come.  Baby out.  Pain stops.  It was fairly easy to work out.

There was a lot of commotion down there, but I was up away from it all.  The pain had stopped.  I was safe.  I would love to  be able to say that I entered that primal state and fought for my life and for the life of my baby.  I did not.  I fought for a relief from the pain. 

They threw him on my chest with the chord still attached. 

He looked wrong. 

I felt a finger up my anus and yelled at whoever had the nerve to be doing that.

Are you KIDDING me? AFter all that you need to stick a finger up my butt too?  Have you ANY idea what you are doing down there?!

What they were doing down there, it turns out, was trying to stop the hemorrhaging.  They couldn't find a vein and so they inserted a suppository.  Fine.  Whatever.  Just so you people know what you are up to.

I thought of Grandma and of how she had hemorrhaged after the twins.  I wasn't worried about dying.  I saw the blood bags rolled in and found it all vaguely fascinating, from a distant vantage point.

THe midwife gave a shriek, grabbed the baby and ran from the room. 

He wasn't breathing.

Calmly I thought of how we would deal with a mentally challenged baby.

We heard a cry. 

I eventually stopped bleeding.

I shook uncontrollably.  Post stress response they told me.  Happens in these quick deliveries.  You did fine.

I did not care if I did fine.

I did wish I had handled it all with a little more dignity and grace, done some yoga breaths, anything cool.  Damon told me the thrashing had been all in my mind.  I hadn't moved, I was catatonic. 

We delivered Ian from my side, one midwife holding my legs since we hadn't had time to set up the room with stirrups.

"Can you roll onto your back now?'  they asked.

"Not happening," I replied.

My ward midwife Julie told me that if I hadn't been in the hospital anyway I would have had Ian at home.  She knew it was all over the minute my waters broke because she had had an 18 minute home birth herself with her last child.   And she had me in a wheelchair and down the corridor without permission and without promise of a birth suite because she knew that baby was coming.

And she apparently gets in trouble if one of her patients delivers on the ward!

I don't know, I still wish I could have handled it  better.

I was not prepared for that speed.

On the other hand I got to spend some extra time in hospital while they did bloodwork to make sure my kidneys hadn't failed.   In rare cases you can develop pregnancy toxemia AFTER the birth.  Since there is no way to correct it, like delivering the baby, this is not good.   I looked up all the alternative diagnoses online and made sure Damon had kept up my life insurance policy.

Turns out the high blood pressure was probably just due to all that blood loss but they just wanted to be sure.

In the meantime Ian latched on and took to life as a baby as though he had done this whole life thing before.

I think I was meant to have this kid, and this kid in particular, for some reason.

All of which is a very good thing.

Because I am NOT going through THAT again!


  1. Wait, so this is your 6th child? I loved the storytelling aspect of this!

  2. FIVE, Jim, FIVE. What do you think I am, crazy!

    (Andrew, my second, and I have taken up the Bill Cosby routine where I ask Andrew why we have five children and he replies "because you don't want six! We love Bill!)

    Thanks - I remember you liked my story about the "true and lasting" relationship for my immigration forms too - I know my weaknesses, my tendency to go too far - and know - when I hear from you - that I need to find the power of just getting it out there.

    I'm human - and a writer - we just think we are SO witty it is hard to edit ourselves. but I AM joining another writers' group SOON - next month's meeting - and there are a LOT of writers in this area - so I can get back to work!

    1. Edited version.

      I have five kids. I like to write.

      And I still have a lot to learn!

      (For you, Jim!)

  3. I guess this was a report of #5. Cheez, I thought it was 6. Glad to hear you are stopping at 5.

  4. it's time to write, more kids!!!