“There is no midwife coming? Are you serious?”
For the first time in 15 years, none of the midwives were able to come in that night. So, there I was with a trainee and an OB sitting back in a dark corner like Shelob the spider in Lord of the Rings (she did have a nasty flu, but the pinched scowl she wore was etched on that face long before this night).
The nurse approached me with a needle in hand, plastic bits and pieces on the other end. She wanted to install a port into the back of my hand (an access point for an IV or drug injections). I squirmed on the hospital bed and my insides writhed.
“No. No way.” I hated needles and I especially did NOT want one living in my hand while I was going through labor. She insisted. I tensed all over.
“We do this with every woman.” Standard protocol. I hadn’t discussed this with my midwife, I didn’t even know this was a part of the process. So much for my thorough research. I tried to relax, but it was getting harder by the minute.
I came into the birthing center fully informed on medicated pain relief methods, labor tools and body positions, and the stages of labor. Perfect theory, but my minute by minute reality was dictated by a relentless rip tide hurtling me against razor sharp rocks every few minutes. I was totally overwhelmed by the contractions; I couldn’t find my voice or even get my mind to focus long enough to communicate about simple things like the fact that the blood pressure machine was stuck on inflate and the cuff was squeezing the feeling out of my arm.
I was dancing on the edge of chaos, facing an overwhelming loss of control and beyond black-out level pain (what a cruel trick of nature that a birthing mother doesn’t black out, and yet when I crushed my foot in an exercise machine I went conveniently right to sleep…)…how was it possible that none of the three midwives were here!
My partner yelled at the nurse to get “the god d@%&” pressure cuff off my arm before it was completely blue. Then he took control of the room. He directed traffic around me, and when I screamed for an epidural he redirected me. The first idea was sleeping. The nurse slid a nice sleeping potion into my port and I blissfully relaxed. I stopped tensing against the contractions and my uterus was able to do its job. An hour and a half later I woke to my voice screaming bloody murder, 7cm dilated.
There is no way this level of pain is possible… Idea two: bathtub. Wow. I closed my eyes and Jeremy began to talk. His voice seemed to come from another dimension as he channeled a divine stream of consciousness. I melted into the bathtub, and suddenly the baby made a dive for freedom. We both saw his little body shift outrageously down my belly, and suddenly I needed to push.
Jeremy called the team and amidst my pleading protests, they dragged me into a wheelchair and back to my room. I didn’t care that I was mostly naked at this point. Ease and imminent crowning had given way to panic, confusion, and a feeling like what was within me had a gravity all of its own conspiring to turn me inside out. It felt like I was dying, and with every shout, they were cheering me on to my death. None of it made any sense and I felt ruthlessly alone.
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