When you're in the hospital, the nurses like to keep tabs on your level of pain or discomfort. They use the universal, "On a scale of 1 to 10... 10 being the worst", method of documenting a patient's pain.
Ten days ago, I finally learned what a "10" really feels like. For reasons still unknown, my beloved, coveted, twice-administered epidural failed to work.
Well, I take that back. It worked for the first several hours and only stopped providing pain relief when I got to eight cm.
Otherwise known as the really hard and painful part.
I can honestly tell you that I have never, EVER experienced that level of pain in my entire life. The sensations that accompany an unmedicated labor and delivery are almost too intense to put into words. And because my epidural worked so flawlessly with my son's delivery, I was completely unprepared for the experience.
No breathing methods to fall back on, no coaching skills for my hubby to recall. Just a lot of praying, panicking and pushing.
I wanted to scream, "TEN! It's a TEN!"
For the first time in my life, I understood the full measure of pain that my body could tolerate.
It was gone. And there she was - a perfect eight-pound little girl. Screaming, wiggling, wonderfully healthy. So tiny, so beautiful.
The nurses got busy working on her, cleaning her up, discussing numbers and ratings that I am not qualified to understand. I overheard her APGAR scores being discussed from across the room at one point.
"Eight and Nine" they said.
But I wanted to shout, "TEN! She's a TEN!