Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Labor Weirdness (Not For the Faint of Heart)

When Benny was born, my labor and delivery went very well, but I did a few goofy things.

I was induced on Jan. 29. The next morning, after a few hours of strong contractions, they put me on morphine, which made me feel itchy all over.

"How do addicts do this?" I asked the nurse. "I could never be a morphine addict, the itching would drive me nuts. Maybe I could get addicted to something else. Does cocaine make you itchy? What about heroin?"

I just went on and on, naming everything from angel dust to cocoa beans. The nurse just stared, she didn't know what to say.

Then a hospital staff member entered and asked me to be part of an epidural study. I was given a paper slide rule with a smiley face on one end and a frowny face on the other. I was told to position the gauge to reflect how much pain I felt.

The first thing I did was push the gauge next to the frowny face. Then I said I didn't want to be part of the study.

After the staffer left, I told my husband, "Gee, that guy must have been really disappointed." Ron rolled his eyes. "That was a woman, honey," he said.

Then I started calling the nurse by my husband's name. ("You're a really big help, Ron.") When I saw it irritated my husband, I did it some more.

After Ben was born, I tried to distract myself during recovery by babbling about my journalism career and the job I used to have in California. I talked about the newspaper's circulation, editorial stance, the subjects covered, major stories I edited. I even tried to name all 45 newspapers owned by its parent chain. Ron just patted my hand, gave me updates on our son, and corrected me whenever I made a mistake. ("Honey, they don't own the Chicago paper. That's Crain's.)

The doctors must have thought I was nuts.


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