The Big Bang, Part 2

So. Labour pains coming every few minutes are very hard to be around. Particularly when hungover and having missed a night’s sleep. I cannot tell you what they are like to experience. PL tries to resist the knock-out blow of the epidural as long as she can. I have no idea why. I would just say hit me as soon as I got through the door. And I would go early. In fact, I wish I could have it right now.

She gets spiked – an unpleasant procedure in itself – at around 10 a.m., after nine hours of labour. Immediately feels better and relaxes a bit. Contractions still keep happening – now about every three minutes – but she can’t feel them.

Dilation of the cervix seems to be progressing well. It was about three centimetres when we came in, at 6 a.m., but is at three centimetres by noon. Still the nice and unusually hot nurses think PL needs a bit of an accelerant, so they mainline her with an IV and juice her with some oxytocin to increase the rate and power of the contractions. Good thing she can’t feel them: They are now coming about once every three minutes.

By the way, PL’s little sister is with us, and she, like PL, is also unusually beautiful, so I am feeling particularly hairy and angular in this environment. I feel that if someone asks me anything the best I will be able to do is expand on Greatest Tank Battles or Cleaning Your Hard Drive; I see no other useful role at the moment.

By three o’clock the hot nurses are saying she’s almost nine centimetres dilated, so they will be asking her to push at any moment. There is not even time for me to go get a coffee. It could happen now. Unusually fast for a first birth. Everybody is delighted. We all think we are, as usual, simply excelling at this. Who said it was going to be difficult? Maybe for peasants. We are simply a superior sort; of course we get things done efficiently. Congratulations all around.

Okay. We wait a half hour and then an hour and then two hours. No progress in dilation. Doctors start to watch the printout of the baby’s heartbeat and murmur to each other. The baby “doesn’t like” the oxytocin, they say. We have come to understand what this and the other common euphemism – “the baby’s not happy” – mean. It means the baby’s heartrate is slowing. Best to stop the oxytocin for a while.

Which they do, and so the contractions weaken as well. And the dilation stops expanding. That’s okay, say the various doctors now entering the room. We just wait. We’ll be back. It’s now about five o’clock. No problem, say the beautiful doctors. You’ll have your baby today. For sure. Let’s just wait a bit.

To be continued next week

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