Having Conrad, Claire and I learned that there is a certain window of opportunity in which the anesthesiologist can give you an epidural. In the middle of the night, we realized it was time to go to the hospital. By the time we got there, Claire was breathing a little more heavily than usual and, by the time she was in the bed, Claire mentioned that she felt like she should push. We waited and I tried my best to comfort her, but we were both hoping everyone would hurry up with our epidural. When the anesthesiologist finally came in our room, I wanted to make sure he was well informed and mentioned Claire’s urge to push. The doctor stopped suddenly and said, “You shouldn’t have told me that.” I asked why and he explained that if she’s that close, they can’t give her an epidural. This is when Claire took charge and said, “I didn’t say that! I don’t feel like pushing!” Awkward. I looked at the doctor and tried to give him a look that conveyed what I was thinking, “Who are you going to believe? Why would I lie?” In case the look didn’t register, I discreetly nodded and mouthed, “Yes she did.” Probably fearing her wrath more than mine, the doctor ultimately decided to give Claire the epidural and we all went back to normal — talking, making jokes and enjoying the rest of the delivery.
Claire was more keenly aware of the window of opportunity when Harper decided to come. I had been reading all kinds of hippie propaganda about the benefits of natural child birth and was half tempted to try it — or have Claire try it, anyway. When we first got to the hospital, the nurses didn’t seem to be in any hurry. They told Claire they would get her some water to drink and asked if she would like anything else (maybe some blankets or a pillow or something). Claire must have sensed the window was closing because she replied with a polite, yet urgent, “I would love an epidural, please.” The nurse looked slightly confused but said something like, “OK, I’ll let them know.”
As it turned out, Harper was in much too much of a hurry for any epidural and Claire, after a quick psychological adjustment, made us all proud and proved that she was just as tough as any mom out there. When all was said and done, Claire never fully converted. When I asked if she could do it all over again, would she go natural, Claire thought for…well, she didn’t have to think about it at all actually. She said, “No,” or “Absolutely not,” or “Are you kidding?”…I’m not sure exactly which words she used, but the message was clear: if we could do it all again, we would have gotten to the hospital before the window of opportunity slammed shut.