An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Thursday, July 15, 2004  

Giving birth - the REAL story (II)

At this stage I am practically choking on the gas having requested "stage 1 painkillers". Midwife, sounding extremely exasperated with my total failure to compose myself, tells me to take long deep breaths. What does she know. She's no kids.I continue to chug the gas, pausing only to vomit. Poor hubby is holding the gas tube in one hand and a puke tray in another. I hear the miwife ask him if he's ok. He says he feels a little funny and that it's very warm. The place is like a sauna as they can't turn the heating off just because its a weirdly warm night. She suggests he should head for the open window. Another contraction hits me and as I lift off the bed grabbing the gas myself, I see the poor guy, stretched out and she's putting the fur coat under his head. The ludicrousness of the whole situation and the fact that everything is completely out of control suddenly strikes me and I start to laugh hysterically. No one is in charge. The gas may have something to do with it.
He recovers and she gets round to examining me. I am only 2cm dilated. This totally deflates me. How on earth can I be having contractions this severe and only be 2cm? I'm to go to 10 before we can deliver. It could be hours. I throw the gas to one side long enough to gasp "I think we should get the epidural". "I think you're right" says the midwife whom I know is totally in favour of non-epidural labours. Within minutes a little indian guy appears. For a racist country our hospitals are staffed by a lot of foreigners. "Hello Miss Carey, do you have any allergies?". "No. No. How long will this take?" "About 20 minutes". "What?? Make it faster!". "Well 20 minutes maximum". "Ok, hurry up."

I've to sit up and I know its really important to be still as a really large needle is being inserted in my spine. For this the midwife stands in front of me and I cling to her. She's a big cuddly woman and as another contraction comes I hold on tight and suddenly it occurs to me. That one wasn't so bad. It's the first time anyone's helped me through one of the contractions. Maybe I could do this. But it's too late. Needle is in and 10 minutes later we are in a different world. Panic and hysteria have been replaced by calmness and peace. He's drinking a cup of tea. She's getting the paedriatic unit ready for the possibly distressed baby. And I'm still feeling pain from the contractions but its totally manageable and I'm doing my little breathing exercises. She examines me again and I've gone to 9cm. I feel huge relief. Now I don't feel like a total weakling. I've gone from 2 to 9 in the space of 40 minutes. Some people take a day to do that. We all agree the epidural was a great idea. Of course, side effect of the epidural is that now everything slows down. It's 5.30am and had I kept going without the drugs I'd probably be pushing within the hour but now we can pretty much choose when to start pushing. The shift changes at 8 so the new midwife will takeover.

Even tho' I am in a midwifery led unit a doctor pops in to see how things are going. Goes straight over to the monitor, checks the readout, chats to the midwfe and heads off without even acknowledging I'm there. I thank myself for having the wisdom to boycott the obstetricians.

posted by Sarah | 10:22 0 comments
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