When you picture going to the hospital to have a baby, all kinds of anxiety-inducing things come to mind: a flurry of doctors and nurses hovering over you in the wake of an emergency, being rushed to surgery, and the fear of the epidural needle, to name a few. No no one seems to think about that damn post-epidural catheter, though, and it's kind of the worst. In fact, I bet there are things every laboring woman thinks when she's getting a catheter, and most of them are of the "hell no" variety. At a time when the whole point is to get something out of your body (the baby), inserting something into your body (the catheter) just doesn't seem right.
I was ill-prepared for the catheter-insertion part of my labor. I already was feeling beyond uncomfortable, even with the epidural having been inserted. I mean, yeah, I felt floaty and drunk from the drugs, but I also was very aware of the fact that from here on out I was a prisoner in my hospital bed. First, the epidural made my legs feel like cement blocks, rendering me unable to walk even if I had been willing. And if by some miracle I had been able to overcome the powerful epidural, and had forgotten about the catheter being attached, boy would I be in for a painful reminder the minute I tried to wander from my hospital bed.
At one very dark hour during my labor, I remember thinking that maybe epidurals and catheters are how hospitals keep pregnant women prisoners so they can do what they will to them. But that was just the crazy pregnant lady on drugs talking. Still, there are a lot of things that run through a woman's mind when she's about to get a catheter. Here are a few of them: