Whenever a friend has their first child I almost get giddy with excitement to hear the play by play. As I have learned (others will argue differently) there is NOTHING that will ever FULLY prepare you for childbirth. No videos, no books, no helpful hints, tricks, or countless first-hand experiences: NOTHING. That is not to say you can't get an IDEA of what it will be like- but full understanding is almost impossible until you've done it.
My first child-birthing experience was rather dramatic and drugged (not the kind that helps with pain- just the kind that makes you loopy). Simply put: it hurt a lot and I thought I was going to die (I really did think I was dying- although it is embarassing you can confirm this with my doctor). Luckily for me my delivery time was very short- from hospital arrival to babe in arms was about 2 1/2 hours. Although my husband felt a bit queasy from the "smell" and visual of "all the blood", he was there for me and I appreciated that.
When baby number two was due to arrive I was nervous, but I knew what to expect, how to respond, and based on previous experience I felt I probably would not die. I waited for that kid for what seemed like forever, but finally (two-weeks less a day overdue) I was induced.
My husband (who has far too often belittled my pain-threshold) and I went to the hospital. The medical staff worked their magic and we waited for the pain to start and the baby to come on out.
As the pain peaked, I decided I would get the epidural. All of my friends swore by it, and as my labour intensified from mild to moderate to near nasty-nasty I thought I'd take their advice and try it.
The anesthesologist entered my room and began to prep my back. She gave me instructions as exactly how to sit and instructed me to stay perfectly still. They got my husband to stand in front of me to help me maintain the necessary position as I sat on the edge of the bed.
I was concentrating on breathing and getting through the pain when I heard the anathesiologist instruct statue-as-I-could-be-me to "stay still!"
What was she talking about? I was still- as still as I could be. And then I realized what was happening. Ker-plop my husband fainted on the floor. The call-button was pressed and a slew of medical staff came rushing in to help the mother in peril- which turned out to be the father in peril.
He puked while I had a massive needle stuck in my back. He slept while a nice nurse held my hand. My doctor finally woke him up as our daughters head was crowning. He sat sort of listless and watched her come out. I would have felt sorry for him- except I was busy giving birth. It was THE sweetest vindication for all the pain-threshold mockery I've endured over the years. And so I laugh. I laugh A LOT everytime I think of it. I'm chuckling as I type.
The BEST part of the whole thing was that the following Sunday we saw some friends who had gone to the same hospital to visit other new-parent friends of theirs. Their friends told them all about this poor guy who'd passed out the day previous while his wife was delivering- and low and behold- it was US!