Pandemic pregnancy: I was with epidural and it was glorious

Labour was an unbelievably pleasant experience thanks to this wonderful invention

Aisling Marron with her newborn and husband. ‘With one last emphatic command to “PUSH!” from everyone in the room, our daughter came roaring into this world,’ she says.

Aisling Marron with her newborn and husband. ‘With one last emphatic command to “PUSH!” from everyone in the room, our daughter came roaring into this world,’ she says.

 

I dreamed of you, I hoped for you, I prayed for you.
I always knew I’d love you but the love I now feel is greater than I could ever have imagined.
After thinking of you every day for nine months you are finally here and you are perfect.

– Aisling Marron’s Ode to an Epidural

This is part of a series by Aisling Marron on her pregnancy during the pandemic.

A few days before induction, I watched an antenatal video and my resoluteness on the epidural plan (ie get one) wavered. Suddenly, I thought: maybe I’d like to be on the exercise ball or lunging and squatting during labour like the actors in the video?

Luckily, I was required to take a Covid-19 test in the hospital car park the next morning which brought me back to my senses. The test was only five seconds long, but if I had been offered an epidural during it, I would have taken it. The person doing the test did a countdown from five and even with that, I didn’t manage to get to “one” without exclaiming “Jesus Christ!”

Quiet prayer

In that moment, I remembered who I am: a person who once had to ask a beautician to stop threading my eyebrows because it was too painful, a person who doesn’t actually like doing lunges or squats and a person for whom spending a day laid up in bed has never before been a problem. So it was decided (again).

Walking into the hospital on the morning of induction, I noticed that the car park spot for the “Anaesthetist on Duty” was empty and I said a quiet prayer that the anaesthetist on duty was a cyclist or was trying to get their steps in.

On arrival at the delivery ward, the nurses told me my waters would be broken and then the epidural administered. That seemed like a perfectly fine plan, but I wasn’t taking any chances and asked was there any reason not to have the epidural administered first. They said the only reason to wait would be if I wanted to feel some contractions and after I stopped laughing I said, “No thanks, you’re grand.”

Aisling Marron: ‘It was a very quick labour.’
Aisling Marron.

The risks were discussed and my husband took a picture of me holding the consent form where I look happier than any subsequent photo of me holding my newborn child. Pure joy.

When it came to the epidural, the emphasis on the importance of staying still during the insertion of the needle was nearly too much to bear. I’ll surely jerk or flinch or move, I thought. But then when it’s happening you remember it’s actually really easy to stay still – you just don’t move.

And from that moment, I was with epidural and it was glorious.

Such an unbelievably pleasant experience. I enjoyed it all so much and would recommend it to anybody. While I spent my first labour swearing my future self off any more babies (and generally just swearing), I spent this one swearing that I would dedicate my time to spreading the good news of this wonderful invention. Maybe start a campaign to make them mandatory – surely it should be an opt-out system?

At one point the midwife told me I was having four to five contractions in 10 minutes. This was news to me as I was in the middle of a snooze.

And then quite quickly, it was time to push.

Mild cramps

I pushed during contractions and “took a break” in between, if you could call stopping something that’s not really very taxing a break. Other than the mildest of mild cramps, I didn’t feel a thing. My husband would tell me I was doing great and I’d think: this is too easy and enjoyable for me to be receiving any compliments for effort.

It was a very quick labour.

I barely had time to notice the nurse call the doctor for assistance. And the team was too swift, professional and calm for me to realise the baby’s dropping heart rate and unusual position was any real cause for concern.

When instruments were urgently called for, Ms Slow On The Uptake here finally twigged that something was amiss. And yet, I remained calm because everybody else was keeping their cool.

With one last emphatic command to “PUSH!” from everyone in the room, our daughter came roaring into this world.

Pandemic Pregnancy
Part 1: This is all getting a bit Angela’s Ashes
Part 2: We got bad news at the first baby scan
Part 3: What’s the oldest woman you’ve delivered?
Part 4: Not yet telling your colleagues about the baby
Part 5: It turns out, I do miss my husband
Part 6: Asking if the baby had magically appeared
Part 7: Apprehensive about having a second child 
Part 8: I’m living for my monthly maternity check-ups
Part 9: We decide we’ll take a little holiday
Part 10: Maternity leave during lockdown has advantages
Part 11: I bat away suggestions for coping with labour
Part 12: ‘Natural’ is great if the birth is going well
Part 13: My baby is big, so I’m going to be induced
Part 14: I was with epidural and it was glorious

@aislingmarron