There’s being confident; overly confident; viciously over-confident; and then there is haughtiness.
“Are you signing up for the Epidural?” asked a fellow mum-to-be at the ante-natal class in the hospital. We learnt that there are 3 common pain management options during labour – Inhaling Nitrous Oxide, Injecting Morphine, Administering an Epidural. Without getting into the technicalities of them I will just mention that epidural is the sure shot way of no or least pain and the other 2 are just partial pain numbing mechanisms. On the flip side, epidural, if not injected properly, might cause side effects.
“Naaah”, said I. My husband had an ‘are-you-sure-question-mark look’ on his face. I smirked and told him, “You see, female mammals are designed to give birth. We are super beings. We have high pain threshold unlike you men and your man-flu. I can manage, don’t worry”. His face changed to ‘are-you-even-sane-puzzled-question-mark’. I raised my eyebrows and said, “Ever heard of laughing gas before? If only you had paid attention in Chemistry classes. Duh! That’s what Nitrous Oxide is. I will inhale it as and when I have pain and laugh my way through labour“. Now his face turned to ‘fine-you-know-better-but-I-am-not-at-all-convinced’.
Fast forward 7 weeks. I started getting ticklish sensation in regular intervals. It induced laughter! It was as if the foetus inside was tickling me! Laughter! I ate like a famine stricken hyena and went to the hospital. Need strength to push, you see! A mid-wife checked the contractions and told me that they have just begun and I won’t deliver at least until the next morning and asked me to go home. People were tensed about going home but I was cool. I said, “Mine is going to be a laughing labour, remember? So chill and let’s go home”.
The laughter lasted only till the night when I started feeling the pain each time a contraction occurred. Ouch, it hurt and then it was gone. Repeated every few minutes until next morning when the interval between them was just 5 minutes. Got admitted in the hospital and learnt how to use the gas mask.
The Nitrous Oxide is usually in a cylinder connected to a mask and lies right at the head rest of the bed in the labour ward. Whenever there is pain, one needs to place the mask over the nose and mouth and inhale the gas. Easy. Easy?
Easy till the pain gets intense and you don’t have the strength to take it and place it. Imagine not being able to lift a tiny mask! That’s when the husband helped. As the contraction graph on the monitor spiked, he kept the mask on me. The exercise lasted for about 45 minutes or so until I found myself screaming for the mid-wife. I pleaded her to give me a morphine injection. Later, I was heard saying things like “If ever anyone utters a word about more children”, “That is if I survive this ordeal”, “I can do it but I can’t do it because the world’s ending”, “Adopt, people, just adopt.”, “I am going to poop, goddamnit, the baby is pushing the poop out “(that was while the baby was crowning and the doc calmly told that that’s the baby sliding out and I, supposedly, was yelling, “No that’s a different hole!”) etc., to an extent that a nurse came in and said that she could hear my screams at the other end of the corridor (to which I, apparently, explained to her that I wasn’t screaming, I was just exerting pressure to push) ! Thankfully, people inside and outside the room did not have to hear me for long.
Even the baby did not cry as soon as he was out as he still had fluids in his mouth and nose. It was just me!
A week later at the doctor’s I met the lady from the class again. She eagerly asked me, “So, did the laughing gas work?”
“Yes, it did”, I said feebly, “but on others. They laughed at my plight and I delivered!”