The good news about my labour is that it occurred during daytime business hours. Apparently, it gets a bit dicey in the night when there is only one attending anesthetist. You may want an epidural, but if something else is going on in the hospital that requires the anesthetist on a more urgent basis, you = screwed.
So, I had decided that an epidural was a good way to go, even taking into account the terror of needles. Through the haze of contractions, I was able to process that when the Epidural Guy (EG) arrived, he had a tremor. Seriously, I shit you not. Hand-shaking tremor on the dude who is going to place a needle in my spine. It is a testiment to my state of mind that I allowed him to go forward thinking a) I remember learning in university that some tremors disappear with controlled movement and are only present at rest, and b) he wasn't young enough to look like this was his first day. I would not be the first woman he maimed.
I'm sitting on the bed, leaning forward with my husband sitting in front of me, physically supporting me and reminding me at regular intervals to breathe. (Seriously, it wasn't just labour - when I'm scared I hold my breath. I almost passed out getting my ears pierced.)
"Oh, a tattoo." says EG. "It's a good thing it is where it is." (my tattoo is on my back, to the left of my spine, just at the bottom of the ribcage).
"Pardon?" says me.
"If it had been over the spot where I need to put the needle in, I wouldn't be giving you an epidural."
"WTF?" thinks me. "Really?" I say.
"Yep. I had to refuse one the other day. We don't know if the dye will get forced into the spinal cord, so it's not being done."
Holy Jeebus, I thought. Imagine getting to this point, finally mentally throwing in the towel and calling for the calvery, and then being denied. So the moral of this part of the story is: Girlies, if you are getting a tattoo, avoid the L5-S1 area. If you already have a tattoo there, argue with your doctor and hospital policy before the due date.
Being a polite girl, I turned my head to face the EG during this exchange and managed to catch an unfortunate glimpse of the spear he was readying to jab me with. Mommydaddymommydaddy.
After a couple more contractions, the medication kicked in and for the first time in hours I was able to relax and prepare for what was coming next. Or so I thought.