I’ve decided to have this baby without pain medication. And every time, every single time the concept comes up, I get a universally negative response. The exchanged looks and facial expressions from the kind. The confident pronouncements of “oh, you’ll change your mind” or “when those contractions hit, you’ll be begging for the epidural” from the unkind. And that doesn’t even cover projecting remarks along the lines of “oh, I could never do that, it would hurt too badly.”
Well, I happen to know something about hurting.
One year and eight months before this baby is currently scheduled to make his appearance, I was in the ER. Earlier that day, I’d been to the doctor. I’d seen the ultrasound with a dead baby 4 weeks too small in my uterus. I was scheduled for surgery the next morning, but started to bleed heavily around 1 am. I did everything my OB wanted in this circumstance. I saved the tissue and clots that I passed at home and brought them with me. I went straight to the nearest ER. I gave the triage person a concise rundown on exactly what was happening – that I was in the middle of a missed miscarriage, that I was scheduled for surgery in 6 hours, that about 15 minutes ago I felt a pop and began bleeding so heavily that I soaked a sanitary napkin in under a minute, and had bled steadily since.
And as I lay in a bed in that ER, the doctor on call walked in and said “So I hear you’ve gotten your period today.”
God help me, but had I been my normal self, I might have assaulted him. On top of everything else, that doctor made me feel like an idiot, that I had no idea what was happening to me. But these were not normal circumstances. I just hurt too badly to do anything but lie there and cry. I didn’t argue when they gave me 4 mg of morphine. It wasn’t the physical pain. Everything that was me hurt. I’d just had the one thing I knew for certain I wanted in life turned into a source of agony. I hurt so badly I couldn’t stand being myself at that moment. I wanted to go away. I wasn’t sure I wanted to come back.
“Wow, I can see why people get addicted to this.”
I said that. Once they’d determined I wasn’t going to have an allergic reaction to the stuff, they left me there. No one told me how to call for a nurse if something happened. Roughly every thirty minutes, The Husband would help me change my thoroughly soaked sanitary napkin, I went through at least six of them while I was there. I didn’t care about anything anymore by that point, I just lay there in some half-asleep stupor. Morphine is powerful stuff.
So yeah, I know something about hurt.
Of course labor will be painful. You don’t get something that big out of an opening that small without pain. I’m not afraid of the pain. I am confident in my ability to cope with the pain. Just because labor is painful doesn’t mean it will hurt. Not as bad as I know it can.
But on dark nights, like tonight, when I’m lying awake in bed, there is a little voice whispering “…but that doesn’t mean it won’t.”