When I saw the Mel Gibson, movie version of Hamlet, I was in labor squeezing the life out of my husband's hand. I was looking up at Mel and Glenn Close, and imagining myself lying in the aisle, lumpy with popcorn. I could imagine the ushers delivering the baby. "Boil some Coca Cola!" "Lady, you want to chew on some Goobers?"
After the movie we went to the hospital. They watched me for about three hours and decided we should go home. "Here's a sleeping pill. Come back tomorrow if you need to." This was hard to take because the previous night the same thing had happened. The pains were starting to kick in, but stopped when we got to the hospital. They sent us home.
I don't like pain. I had lots of pain with my first two children because I wanted the birth experience to be natural. I waited until I was metamorphosing into a wolfwoman before I finally begged for an epidural. Both times it took thirty minutes for the anesthetist to arrive. He told me to roll up into a ball like a little shrimp, which was a real feat with a stomach as bulbous as the hood of a Volkswagen. He stuck a burning knife into my spinal column and then I began to feel happy. The hair that had sprouted on my face and hands fell out and my claws retracted.
Shortly after the birth, I saw the anesthetist in the drugstore. "Hi! Do you remember me? You gave me an epidural last month." He smiled and said, "I don't usually get a good look at the patient's faces." "Oh," I said, meekly.
Some people say that you forget the pain of childbirth after the fact. I have a vivid memory. Childbirth feels like moving a pumpkin through your digestive system. Any time I want to remember what it's like, I think of that image.
Needless to say, I had decided ahead of time that I was not going to experience pain with my third baby. The first, tiny tweak of cramping I felt sent me packing for the hospital.
"Peter, I've heard that the third birth is like greased lightning! I want an epidural. I want an epidural. Let's go, I felt a twitch."
But they sent us home twice. As we were about to drive away from the emergency room exit, the pains began to roll over me. I said to the nurse, "I can't believe this isn't it. It hurts so much." She smiled and said, "It's probably because you started moving. They'll probably stop in a minute. Why don't you go have some ice cream. It'll give you energy."
Peter began driving all over Richmond at 11PM, looking for an ice cream place. By this time I was a mental case. The faintest movement of the car was excruciating. We still thought it was a false alarm.
We went home and Peter inched me into the house. The water broke. I was chewing on my own arm, moaning (screaming might be a better word), "Peter, dial 911!"
Finally the front door burst open. I was lying on the living room carpet like an overturned sea-tortoise. While the howling February wind whipped into the house, the rescue worker was trying to pull my clothes off, asking, "Is it crowning?"
Then bumpety bumpety across the front lawn, into the ambulance and on to the hospital. The ambulance attendant started asking me stupid bureaucratic questions like, "What's your social security number?" "What's your favorite country-western song?" "Where were you on the night of June 25th?" Then I began to throw up every few seconds on a sad-faced girl who was trying to take care of me. She kept saying, "Can somebody hand me a towel?" I kept saying, "Blah! I'm sorry. Blah! I'm sorry. Blah! I'm sorry."
The driver was saying into the radio, "Proceeding to the hospital, 36 year old female, resting comfortably..."
I was thinking, "LIAR!!!" as I continued to puke on the girl.
At the hospital I begged for an epidural. They told me it was TOO LATE! I went from the stretcher to the delivery room.
"But it feels like I have to go to the bathroom," I pleaded.
"That's the BABY! PUSH!"
And POP, Ranin was born. And it didn't hurt anymore.
The moral of the story is; take lots of drugs and don't believe them if they try to send you home.
Kim lives in Maine, which is lovely, and where she continues her enthusiastic relationship with Art, Music, Nature, Books, Animals, Humor and Trees.