Just Before You Start


“The scariest moment is always just before you start.
After that, things can only get better.”
Stephen King

You know what already worries me about my upcoming C-section? I’m terrified of the back shot.

You’d think repetition would inure me to the experience. But I’m so ticklish. What if I jump at the wrong moment and end up paralyzed? And the side effects! Hot flashes, nausea, inability to swallow—I’ve had it all.

These were the fears that kept me awake the night before my third child was born. While Christian slept, I tossed and turned. Past midnight, I couldn’t have water. Misery. Sometime close to 1a.m., I finally drifted off.

Moments later, I woke to piteous moans. I found Christian rolling around on the bathroom floor, clutching his stomach. I thought he was dying, four hours before I had to deliver a baby.

I called 911. The ambulance whisked him to the ER; I followed. The night attendants said blankly, “Wait a minute. You’re having a baby, and he came in the ambulance?”

3 1/2 hours later, Christian lay sleeping on a bed of two vinyl chairs while I tossed and turned on a hospital bed. Three months of nausea that intensified on insufficient sleep. You can’t get much more insufficient than zero…and now it was time for a spinal?

The door opened, and a gentle-faced man came in. “I’m the nurse anesthetist,” he said. “Can you tell me what your experience of a spinal is like?”

I started crying. He patted my leg and said, “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of you. Just tell me whatever you’re feeling, and we’ll take care of it.”

An hour later, beneath bright lights and gentle hands, I said, “Are you ready to put it in?”

“It’s done,” he said, and I felt the familiar warmth flooding my legs.

And I knew then I was going to be okay.

23 thoughts on “Just Before You Start

  1. I’ve had two spinal shots, both as a child. It’s really amazing for me to look back on myself as a brave little girl. I was eight years old when I got the second shot, and I didn’t even cry. Now, I sometimes think I’m avoiding getting pregnant because of that dang shot. It’s so funny how we’re brave as children, then seem to lose that bravery completely as adults.

    Nevertheless, you’re very brave to me for going through that scary experience so many times! It sounds like you had an amazing doctor. And how funny is it that your husband ended up going to the ER on the day you’re supposed to give birth? Poor guy!

    Great post!

    • Oh, don’t avoid it because of the shot! You get through what you have to. Parenthood is one of those htings that we’ve made such a colossal deal out of. And it IS a big deal…but it’s not nearly the behemoth we sometimes make it out to be. I think people overthink it!

  2. Yes, this. I, too, was terrified of things like shots and IV lines. So scared!

    You really captured that moment before going into labor and such a perfect example of a moment of change!

  3. Omgoodness, I wanted to be there for you:) Giving birth is both terrifying and exhilarating. How do we make room for all these emotions? I’m so glad this turned out the best way it possibly could.
    Great post!

  4. I am terrified of shots. Getting my blood drawn I can handle because it’s happened so many times, but to have a shot where they inject something? Nope. Not. Gonna. Happen. And that one looks like a behemoth.
    That Stephen King quote is absolutely perfect.

  5. oh man was i petrified when i had to get the spinal when i was in labor. i very easily could’ve written about that- but funny thing is that i totally forgot about it (and don’t think of it much) until reading this! that said, if i had to do it again, i’d be just as scared b/c it’s scary!!

  6. I was petrified of the shot, the prospect of the c-section the whole nine yards. But my doctor being a little older and Jamaican put me totally under so that eliminated the need for the shot so I was spared. Still didn’t enjoy the c-section experience. My recovery from it was long and painful.
    Great way to explore the prompt.

    • Ooh, I almost going under would be worse…not at the start, but in recovery. The last time I went under, I threw up for twelve hours afterward. Not the way I want to start my relationship with my new baby!

  7. I had three kids and three epidurals. I had two anesthesiologists I would have withheld payment from if possible–not the whole thing, just part because they were nasty human beings. I did “get” one of them though–I had a section with my first and they left the epidural in for the next day and were giving me pain med through it. The guy came in and asked me how I felt and if I was in pain. I said I felt awful and still had some pain. He said something like “Darling, it isn’t supposed to take away all the pain, just make it feel better”. Well, unknown to him, he had just “rung my bell”-terms of endearment used by people who aren’t dear to me are my pet peeve. I looked straight at him, said “I’m not a child, don’t patronize me, and I most certainly am not your darling”. The nurses said he ran from my room with his tail between his legs and wanted to know what I said to him.

  8. So glad I never had to have C-sections or epidurals. I had a spinal tap when I had meningitis, and that was HORRIBLE and awful headaches for weeks after that. Hang in there, it will be over soon — I hope you get the nice Doc again

  9. Needles and wires are my personal nightmares, too! I’ve never had a C-section, but was given a epidural with my first two children.

    Jacob’s birth was somewhat different!

    I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain – seriously afraid something was wrong, even after having been in labor twice before! I’d never felt anything like it (most likely due to the epidurals, hehe)…
    I’d gone to sleep a few hours earlier, completely pain-free.

    I barely managed to get myself washed and dressed, while my husband took the sleeping kids and bags to the car. When we arrived, checked-in, and I was wheeled up to my room….
    The nurse helped me onto the bed, and took one look at the situation:
    “Oh wow. We’re going to have a baby – RIGHT NOW!”

    My doctor hadn’t arrived yet, so the nurse and her assistant delivered Jacob… approximately 20 minutes after we first checked-in. 😛

    No needles. No IVs. Nothing… and it was wonderful! Obviously not the pain part, that was pretty intense, but I’ve always detested being strapped down and stabbed at. This was the next best thing to having a homebirth. LOL

    Unfortunately I must have been something of an oddity in our hospital, because the next morning EVERYONE knew who I was. Nurses would introduce themselves and say,
    “You’re the mother who delivered upon arrival! Wow, that was fast!”

    Like I was some kind of freakish celebrity…. it was extremely embarrassing. 😛

  10. What an experience!!! How wonderful that nurse must have made you feel. Just what you needed at just the right time. I have to say this being your third and all I thought you’d be a seasoned vet and suddenly I was holding my breath waiting for the next word to tell me you were going to be ok and then it was all ok. Loved the story and such an unexpected topic that you really made work! -Laverne

  11. I could have kissed my anesthesiologist. It was quick, painless, and oh! the blessed release from labor exhaustion!

    I am sorry for all your stress, though, and glad you found a good one in the end.

    • Good luck to you! I spent a lot of time praying for peace of mind. 🙂 Really, the scary stuff is mostly psychological, I think…doesn’t make it less powerful, but at least it gives the reasonable mind fodder to fight terror!

  12. I was scared of it, too 😦 Needles, spines, ugh.

    I’m glad you had such a great doctor. Sometimes I think those things are better when you’re distracted.

  13. i was so severely ill when i had my c-section that all i remember is being told to hang limp (the nurse was holding me up) while the anethesiologist gave me the three shots in my back. they hurt and i don’t know that i’m going to dread it if i have another c-section but i doubt i’m going to go into it not expecting to have pain.

  14. Oh good luck to you and hopefully you’ll be anxiety free when the time comes. I had epidurals for all three but was already in so much pain that I just wanted it to go away so didn’t care what they stuck in me.

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