Birth Story Part 3: Send In the Clowns

Where were we? Oh yes, it was time for the balloon animals.

“How bad is this going to hurt?” I asked the nurse already knowing her answer.

“You’ll feel some pressure,” she said.

Of course she did. This seemed to be the go-to response when something was going to hurt but the nurses didn’t want to tell me it would hurt.

At this point I’d been at the hospital about 18 days now. Or maybe it was 36 hours? I’m not sure. It felt like a lifetime and I was getting anxious as hell. Not to mention all of my pretty delivery makeup had sweat off! Ugh. I also hadn’t eaten much, hadn’t left the room once, and I was starting to dry heave a bit; a fun anxious quirk of mine.

“I am really really nervous about this,” I said in between heaves.

The nurse smiled sympathetically but I can’t help but wonder if she was thinking well no shit in her head. But before I could say anything further she said the magic five little words I’d been waiting to hear since I checked into the hospital… “Do you want the epidural?”

Come again? The heavens suddenly opened up and blue birds and angels began singing in my ears. A halo formed around the nurse’s head and the bag I was gagging into suddenly dropped from my hands and turned into a tiny little bunny rabbit that hopped away in the night.

“I could get that now?”

“It’s completely up to you to get the epidural whenever you’d like,” she said.

I looked at Chris. He looked at me. I looked back to the nurse. Oh boy, oh boy.

Now here’s the thing, I’ve come to understand a lot of women try to wait as long as possible before getting the epidural, whether for medical or personal reasons, I’m not sure. And I also understand some women choose to not have one at all. I am not that woman. I wanted an epidural when I felt my first contraction four weeks ago. You can judge me if you’d like, I’m not trying to be a hero here.

“Be honest with me,” I said to the nurse, “would I be the first person to get an epidural this early?” This early meaning I was not even 1 cm dilated… yes, you read that right.

“No,” she said, “there was this one lady back in 1992…” just kidding she didn’t say that, but… but she also didn’t not say it.

In reality she told me that some women do choose to get the epidural before the Foley bulb because it can be rather painful. The reason for waiting (or rather one reason for waiting) is because once that needle goes in you are stuck to the bed …. forever.

I already felt stuck to the bed so I said yup, let’s do it. Like I said guys, I wasn’t out to win any awards here. But if there was an award for earliest given epidural, I suppose I may have won it.

When the anesthesiologist came into the room to administer the epidural I felt a bit like a loser for “giving in so early,” but my contractions were also strong as hell, and I knew the loser feeling was one I could carry with me, or just let go. I chose to let it go because I had bigger things to worry about- like a large needle going into my spine.

Chris sat in front of me and held my hands (he couldn’t watch because he also hates needles) and as the needle went in I was told I’d feel some pressure, ha, and I thought about every single blood draw I endured in 2019; the good ones that hardly hurt, the bad ones that bruised, I thought about sitting in the waiting room at Northwestern surrounded by pregnant women, I thought about waiting for my results week after week scared I was just a few numbers away from having to do chemo, I thought about the molar pregnancy support groups I joined on Facebook just to lurk but never comment, I thought about finally hitting zero in Moab, Utah, I thought about ALL THE THINGS and you know what? The epidural was a breeze.

And suddenly things felt a lot better. I relaxed. I relaxed a little too much one might say…

“If you hit this button it increases the drip,” the anesthesiologist said as he finished hooking everything up.

You can’t tell me something like that and expect me not to press the button just to see. Because now I really wanted to see what would happen. Don’t worry, I didn’t press it. But damnit I was tempted. *I may have pressed it.*

A short time later the Foley bulb was inserted and I didn’t feel a thing. It was easy peasy and I had never felt so good about my choice. To each their own epidural! And now we waited for the balloon to pop? Or drop out? Or float off into the sky after the first touchdown? I don’t quite remember as things got a little fuzzy. I just recall more waiting.

But after the lower half of my body went numb I was able to sleep a bit and Chris was able to leave the room for the first time to get some fresh air. Sometime while he was away a new nurse came in. We exchanged hellos, she took my vitals, and then as she began recording something on the white board she released a slow, but increasingly loud, rip of ass into the air. A fart, if you will. Something you’d hear at a gas station in western Nebraska where there hasn’t been another gas station for at least 75 miles.

I won’t deny I was slightly appalled, we’d only just met after all. I had to remind myself that nurses are people too. And perhaps she had Chipotle for lunch? Or Torchy’s, as Denver folk do. She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye and I gave her a slight smile and knowing head nod as if to say, it’s okay! It happens to the best of us. She gave me a bit of an awkward smile back, the poor thing, and that’s when I began to understand.

It was me.

I was the one farting. I realized this as it was still happening. Apparently when you can’t feel your legs, you also can’t feel your farts. It was as if the moment my mind told me I had to release a little gas my body was like no problemo, we’re one step ahead of you.

I. Was. Mortified.

And yes I know nurses have seen it all, but still. This was too much for me. I also had major trust issues with my body at this point. What else couldn’t I control? I was worried you-know-what might happen in the delivery room, but what about in my hospital bed? Could it happen here? For the next 24 hours I was on pins and needles hoping my bowels wouldn’t betray me.

And this feels like a good stopping point for today. Guess you’ll have to come back for part four to see if I shit the bed or not! Literally and metaphorically!

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