Late one hot July afternoon in 2003, I started having contractions. Knowing I had plenty of time before "real" labor set in, I tried to relax and take a nap, while Bil watched Lord of The Rings on DVD all night. When my contractions finally got more regular, we headed to the hospital, full of equal parts fear and excitement.
While pregnant with Danny, I prepared in every way I could think of. I took childbirth classes, hoping that I could do this whole labor and delivery thing "right."
My Bradley Method instructor was very personable and inspiring. She convinced me I could survive anything, even the pain that is birthing a child. I didn't totally dismiss the idea of getting an epidural, but I wanted to do this naturally, if at all possible.
18 excruciating hours later, I would have taken meth, crack, and heroin all rolled up into one wonderful oblivion-inducing cocktail if the nurse would have offered.
With no end in sight, I began to panic. I wasn't progressing and I was exhausted. And really? I was totally done with being in pain. I didn't care about all the reasons my crazy Bradley teacher discouraged the use of drugs during labor. The possibility of paralysis from a botched epidural? At least if I were paralyzed I wouldn't feel this agonizing, soul-crushing, insanity-inducing pain.
So, I demanded drugs. Powerful drugs.
No more sitting in a bathtub pretending that the water reduced the pain. No more changing positions and breathing and praying.
I wanted it to end.
Normally, I am a very polite and civil person, especially to strangers. I recently thanked my dentist after he shot me up with several syringes full of novocaine in preparation for a crown. I say "sorry" when someone else is in my way at Walmart and will not move. You could say I'm almost pathologically polite.
Even at the height of my labor pain, I excused myself when I passed gas. I apologized when I bumped into my sister. After demanding an epidural, however, something happened to me. I suddenly morphed into this crazed woman whose only thoughts revolved around getting drugs. STAT!
They informed me that Dr. Albequrque, the anesthesiologist, would be there in about 20 minutes.
Three minutes later I was asking everyone where the hell the doctor was. "Where is he? Doesn't he know what kind of pain I am in? Is he really coming? I need him NOW! What if he forgets to come? I think I'm dying!"
When Dr. A, a diminutive, quiet, Indian gentleman finally showed up, I proclaimed my undying love to him.
Without blinking, he told me to sit on the edge of the bed and hold onto my husband so that I could steady myself. "Whatever you do, do not move," Dr. A commanded me.
You know, so he wouldn't paralyze me or anything.
At that point, even the idea of becoming a quadriplegic or enduring lifelong migraines didn't dampen my craving for pain relief.
I held as still as I could and leaned into Bil, willing the medicine to start working and bring me some blessed, wonderful, beautiful relief.
Dr. A poked around and instead of comfort, I felt a sharp pain. I jumped and gasped loudly.
The doctor asked, "Where did that hurt?"
Forgetting that the man I was speaking to held my life and sanity in his hands, I snapped in exasperation , "It hurt where you stabbed me with that thing!!!! Where do you think it hurt?!?!?!"
My undying love and devotion was dampening a bit.
More poking and prodding with the needle ensued and I was sure it had been an hour since Dr. A had begun. When was the pain going to end? When? When? I couldn't take much more. I was closer to the breaking point than I had ever been
And this is when I felt Bil's grasp on me loosening. He abruptly handed me over to a nurse and then promptly collapsed to the floor in a puddle of unconsciousness.
Bil had fainted.
After over 30 hours with no sleep, very little to eat, and few breaks, Bil had passed out.
I don't think the sight of the needle helped any, either.
The nurse rushed to his side and Dr. A stopped poking around in my back. All of a sudden, everyone's attention turned to Bil.
Well, everyone's but mine, that is.
As all the medical professionals fawned over my unconscious, prostrate husband, I felt my grip on sanity slipping. Sure, Bil was passed out, on the floor; he could have easily hit his head on the sharp end of the armoire in the corner. For a brief moment, I just didn't care.
I yelled, "He's FINE!!!!! Finish my epidural, NOW! Please, please, please, please!"
Bil was still on the floor, possibly concussed. I had no idea if he was okay, but it didn't matter. All that mattered was getting some pain relief. I distinctly remember thinking, "I'll deal with Bil later. As soon as I get my epidural, I'll worry about Bil."
This is when I realized I could never work for the FBI or the CIA. I could never go on covert spy operations, because I would so completely break under the pressure.
All those torture sessions you see on spy movies? Yeah, I would break in no time flat. I would give up all the secrets of the free world just to end the pain.
Just so you know, Bil was fine. Sheepish, a bit embarrassed, but totally fine. And he learned his lesson. With my two subsequent deliveries, Bil knew better than to stay up all night watching Lord of the Rings.
For more posts on birthing, check out the Spin Cycle over at Second Blooming.