…continued from “Niagara Falls“.
As the contractions came closer and closer and I had no idea how far I had already dilated, it became clear to me that being brave and strong was not the way to go. I needed pain medication, and I needed it now. When the nurse came by my bedside to administer the drips, I asked meekly, “Is that pain medication?” She threw me a look as if I had asked her if she wanted my baby when I was done. We stared at each for a minute before she replied, “No darling, this will help the contractions be more efficient in helping the baby come down.” All I heard was “Prepare for immense pain!” And that’s exactly what I was in five minutes later. Eventually, I realised that all my writhing and eye-pleading was getting me nowhere. I didn’t want to be “that pregnant woman” but at this point, the pain was unbearable. When the next contraction came, I didn’t try to breathe through it. I don’t even know that I was breathing at all. I do know I was practically screaming though. As the pain of the contraction increased, so did my vibrato. I was loud, but frankly I could care less. The three expectant mothers accompanying the same area as I, seemed to be inspired by my expression as they, too, refrained from muffling their cries.
After what felt like eternity, I heard the attending doctor order the nurse to bring pain medication. Pethidine. Having suffered in the past from “migraine with aura”, Pethidine had left quite a lasting impression on me, one even Morphine couldn’t live up to. I heard the nurse who had dealt with me in the previous room-the one with the iron fist-say “Yea, she has a very low pain threshold.” At this point, I was tempted to pull her aside and ask her if she had ever experienced giving birth. I wanted to ask her in what realm of the universe did having an iron fist like her own internally antagonising the downward pressure of a baby’s head against my birth canal and then enduring the painful heightened pulsating of my uterus and cervix qualify as having “low pain threshold”. Although the Aries in me was ready to argue, I was grateful for any excuse to warrant me getting the pain medication. As soon as the pain medication was injected into my IV, I could feel myself slipping away. It all happened in a matter of seconds.
Oh, Pethidine, how I love thee.
While I drifted in and out of consciousness, I vaguely remember John coming to my bedside and holding my hand and it was the most comfort I had felt all night. His hand was so warm and as the contractions slowly became less brutal, I cried silently as I tried squeezing his hand intermittently with each bout of consciousness. I can’t remember when he left because I eventually drifted off for a while. In theory, pain medication seems like a good idea; a saving grace. Well allow me to shoot holes into that theory. By the time I woke up from the pain medication, I literally felt like I was being ripped in half. No joke. I wish someone would have warned me beforehand that the combination of the fluid to help speed up the process and the drowsy pain medication resulted in waking up to eternal hell. As I slowly became more cognitive, the reality of the situation hit me. This was it. I was about to give birth to a baby. And if I wasn’t, I was most definitely about to die. The pain was excruciating; I couldn’t think straight. The effects of the medication were still present as I lost slight consciousness every time I closed my eyes to belt out my screams. I remember hearing someone say, “She’s ready to push.” All I could think was “how the hell am I going to push through this pain?” The naive part of me hoped that pushing would automatically make the pain more bearable, but the realistic part of me knew it was about to go from “zero to one hundred” real quick.
As I entered the delivery room, I was aware of about three or four nurses and two doctors although I couldn’t tell you when the second doctor entered the room. The pain at this point felt like an outer body experience. My eyes were open but I couldn’t see, people were touching me, positioning my body to prepare for pushing, but I couldn’t feel them. The doctor was talking to me, giving my directions of how to push effectively and when to push, but I couldn’t focus. “I can’t, I can’t, it hurts. Why does it hurt so much?” She kept telling me to push through the pain, but it was almost impossible to focus on pushing correctly. They kept saying “Ashley, you need to stop screaming.” I thought, I’m not screaming. Am I screaming? I couldn’t hear myself screaming. At some point, John came into the room and I heard the doctor say, “Help her, encourage her. Put your hand behind her neck and help her keep her chin to chest.”
“Come on, babe. You can do this. Push.”
Eventually, I felt the insistent urge to push. Mind you, its not that bearing down pressure that was described to me as I read mummy blogs in preparation for the big day. Oh, no. It more feels like, push this baby out, or its going to dig its way out. And you’re constantly reminded that the pain will only last as long as you lay writhing in pain, refusing to push. So I did. I pushed with all my might, with every last bit of energy left in me. I felt it before she said it. “Wow, she’s urinating a lot. We need to insert a catheter.” At this point, I literally wanted to just close my legs and be like, “Sorry guys, I made a mistake. I don’t want to do this anymore. Okay, bye”, and run for the hills. But I was here to stay until this baby was born. Once the catheter was inserted, (ouch), I was encouraged to push again. I pushed, gritting my teeth and heard John say, “I can see the head, keep pushing.” This motivated me to keep going and then I heard, “We need to infiltrate.” Infiltrate? Infiltrate what exactly? They instructed me to push again, which I was now hesitant to do, and as I did, I felt the cut. At the same time, there was this burning sensation and then I was instructed to stop. I heard the second doctor say, “Can you lift it over his head?” The other doctor responded “No, its too tight.” “Then you’re going to have to clamp it and cut it.” I was still in and out of consciousness at this point so although I heard what was being said, I couldn’t comprehend the implication of what was being discussed or react. I was told to push again, and in that last push, I felt this release. Like a weight had dropped. They showed me my silent baby, which I peered at through squinted eyes and between sobs of relief, before rushing him out of the delivery room.
I had done it. I had conquered one of the most harrowing experiences of motherhood. I had defeated labour.