May 8, 2014 by Melanie L.
“Give me an epidural. . . NOW! I want a f*@king epidural!” I screamed desperately from the ambulance gurney. I screamed it to everyone within earshot, which, given the decibel, included everyone in the tri-state area. I yelled it to the EMTs, to the hospital security guard, to the techs, to the nurse, and finally to my OB after I arrived in the delivery room with T minus a few lucky minutes before my youngest child crowned.
I was scared sh!tless (not literally). I was scared because this was my second delivery and it was not going as planned, not that I even had a birth plan, whatever the hell those were. So, really, it was just not going like my first.
Wait, let me back up. My first delivery went a bit like this: pain, wait, pain, wait, pain, wait, pain, wait. . . epidural, sleep. . . pain, wait, pain, wait, pain wait – for 18 hours! Fun times. But, at least I had gotten an epidural. Thank the Lord for epidurals!
So, when my second due date arrived, I felt marginally more prepared. I knew what to expect. Ish. That morning started like any other. I woke up, showered, and got dressed for work. As soon as I was ready to leave for work, the contractions started. They were not gradual and mild, building to painful crescendo slowly over the course of the day – like they did the first pregnancy. No, these contractions were abrupt and intense from the start. Luckily, they were a whopping 15 minutes apart.
Believing time was on my side, I calmly called out of work, politely advised the nanny that I was going to the hospital, called for a ride there and patiently waited for my ride to come get me those first 30 minutes.
But 30 minutes became 40 minutes and I started getting contractions every three minutes. Not only had the frequency increased, but so too had the intensity! Each one had me feeling like the victim of some evil super-villain who had sunk his hands directly into my abdomen and squeezed my innards through a Play-Doh spaghetti maker WHILE I WAS STILL ALIVE! Since my ride was late, I decided to walk it off by doing laps around my living room. Maybe “doing laps” isn’t quite the right term for the Hunchback-on-hot-coals, doubled-over, contorted-faced, tippy-toed trot I was performing.
Another 20 minutes passed, marking an hour since I had made the call for my ride, and yet, I still had no ride. At that point, I figured I was in a little bit of trouble. I was not so much worried about delivering a baby in the car. No, that hadn’t occurred to me, though maybe it should have. I was worried I would not arrive in time to get my epidural. Given the intolerable pain of my first labor and delivery – with an epidural – I could not fathom the increased echelons of pain I would experience at the moment of delivery without it.
Thankfully, my ride picked me up shortly thereafter. But, halfway to the hospital, I felt the urge to push and my foggy sense of impending trouble condensed into sheer terror. I called 911 from the car and pulled into the police station where an ambulance awaited. Those poor EMTs. In what I can only describe was a pure panic attack, I begged, pleaded and screeched for an epidural the entire ride from the police station to the hospital interrupted only by my bouts of hyperventilation and the EMTs’ admonishments to take deep breaths. I shrieked even as they wheeled me in through the emergency department doors. It’s been several years, but I’m not too confidant that the security guard’s ears have made a full recovery.
Once inside, my OB sternly, matter-of-factly, and immediately advised that I was too far along to get the epidural. But, bless the OB’s heart, she had the magic words to abate my terror, “You’ve already done all the hard work.” And suddenly something clicked. I could see my unmedicated labor pains through this new prism. I have already maxed out on the pain scale and it would not get any worse. My breathing steadied, my mind refocused. Sure enough, my OB was right. On the second push, my baby raced out like Natalie Geisenberger threatened by an American. Quickly, quietly, painlessly.
No, really – painlessly. The dominant sensation of the delivery (as opposed to the labor pain) was one of a giant relief of pressure, both literally and figuratively. I had worried for naught. My desperate cry for the unforthcoming epidural transformed into the battle hymn of a warrior-mom in labor. I felt like Tarzan, only I was a Jane. It may not have been my plan to have a natural birth, but once I became the accidental naturalist, I felt I could tackle anything that came my way. (Though, if you are going to choose natural childbirth, you may consider these tips for preparing yourself.) For all my efforts I was rewarded with a perfect little baby, of course, but also a newfound confidence. Confidence that, in hindsight, came in handy over the course of the next two most challenging years of my life to date.