Labor Day Submission: Calling Dr. Jerkface


When the anesthesiologist walks in, relief is palpable. My husband stops impotently rolling a water bottle up and down my back for counter pressure, which is a relief to him since he pressed so hard he pulled a muscle in his arm, and I see an end to the excruciating pain, which is a relief to me for obvious reasons.

“Your timing was great!” the anesthesiologist says. “I can fit you in really quickly before my c-section.”

Call me crazy, but ‘quickly’ was not an adverb I wanted to describe the insertion of a needle into my spine.

I grit my teeth.

My husband edges to the other side of the crowded room to stay out of the way.

“Do you feel like you’re going to pass out?” the anesthesiologist asks my husband (and not me, who actually might pass out).

“Nope, I’m good,” my husband says.

The anesthesiologist gets his needle out. “How about now?”


“It’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you feel like you’re going to faint, just lie on the floor.”

I am writhing in pain. Life-altering pain, like my uterus is twisting out extra water. The anesthesiologist waits for my husband to confirm, again, that he is not going to pass out.

I hear various plastic packages shredding open. This is it. This is it. I just need to get through this one last contraction and it’ll be over.

Buzz. Buzz. What is that sound?

Buzz. Buzz. “Dr. Jerkface speaking.”*

(*Names changed to protect innocent, etc.)

“No, I can talk,” he says and I am hit by another contraction. I curl into the pillow on my lap and squeeze my eyes shut. I try to remember the absolutely useless bullshit breathing techniques we learned in birthing class. I could barely use those techniques to get past the pain of holding ice in my hand for a minute. I don’t know what the hell they’re supposed to do now.

Breathe. Breathe.

The anesthesiologist continues talking into his phone. “Blahblahblah something, something, lots of unimportant things.”

So, I take it back at this point. Really quickly is the perfect adverb for an epidural. Please wrap it up. I stop breathing. Or at least, I stop forcing myself to breathe. Breathing only makes it worse. Everything makes it worse.

The anesthesiologist chuckles. Either pee or amniotic fluid squirts out beneath me as he chuckles, so now I am sitting in a puddle of an unknown bodily fluid. Ha. Ha. Also, now the grilled cheese I ate before labor (genius idea, btw) decides to come up.

My nurse holds a bag in front of my face as I regurgitate fried cheese and the Tums I took to prevent regurgitating. A nasty mix of fruit and butter and cheddar.

My husband sits down on the floor, because there are no chairs and this is taking forever.

The anesthesiologist pauses his conversation. “That’s right. If you’re going to faint, you should probably lie down all the way.”

“I’m not going to faint,” my husband says.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” the anesthesiologist says, then goes back to his conversation. “Right, she did what?”

The contractions are getting worse. I have now had four more than I thought I would have to have. My mouth tastes like vomit and sitting up is making me want to die. Pick a focus object. Focus on that object in order to ignore the pain. Just kidding. None of that works and I hate everything.

“I guess I better finish this up and then head down,” the anesthesiologist says.

Yeah. I guess you better, buddy. Another contraction. Five more than I needed to have, because Dr. Jerkface couldn’t get off his godforsaken phone.

I think he finally does something. I can’t tell. Too. Much. Pain.

“How’s your arm?” my nurse asks my husband.

“It’s fine.” He rubs it like it’s not fine. I start to wonder if the staff is there for him. If he is going to get shoved into a wheelchair and leave me alone here a la Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky on Full House.

“He might pass out,” the anesthesiologist tells the nurse. “That’s why he sat down.”

“No,” my husband says. “I’m fine. There was no where else to sit.”

Pain. Pain. Pain. Pain. That is all I can think of. Pain. Pain. I’m going to vomit some more.

So I vomit some more.

Finally, the anesthesiologist places the epidural. Slowly. I thought he said ‘really quickly?!!’ Pain relief washes over me. Each contraction is a little less awful than the last.

I want to thank him, but he’s hovering over my husband.

“How are you feeling?” Dr. Jerkface asks my husband.

“Are you OK?” the nurse asks my husband.

Maybe I should call to thank him while he’s in with his c-section. Maybe then he’ll have time to chat.

Finally, a contraction comes and all I feel is tightening. No pain.

This article is a submission in our Labor Day Giveaway contest. Have a funny/crazy labor story you’d like to share with Mommyish readers? Go here for more details.

(photo: Icons Jewelry/ Shutterstock)

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  • Jen TheTit Whipper

    Holy smokes. Kudos for not punching Dr. Jerkface. or ripping his head off. I might have tossed his damn cell phone in the toilet. I’d probably be pissed if Mr. H didn’t.

  • Surly Canuck

    That sounds horrifying!

  • guest

    I think at that point I probably would have grabbed Dr Jerkface’s phone and chucked it at my husband’s head and then told him he obvi needed to have an MRI now so they better take him and GTFO.

  • Theresa Edwards

    My anesthesiologist was a dick too! ‘Sup with that?

  • sera

    Wouldn’t it have been awesome to toss his phone in your “unidentified liquid?” What an ass.

  • Rowan

    Unfortunately, it’s not a good idea to maim the guy about to put a needle in your spine. Cos otherwise MAIMING WOULD BE REQUIRED.

  • Rowan

    Unfortunately, it’s not a good idea to maim the guy about to put a needle in your spine. Cos otherwise MAIMING WOULD BE REQUIRED.

  • jsterling93

    Ugh he was definitely an ass. Mine was great. He was fast and apparently it was a slow night so he hung around chatting with me for awhile and then when I ended up having the C section he hung out wiping my face with a cool rag and chatting the entire time and during the recovery. I actually remember more about him that the OB who did the surgery.

    • CrystalSchubert

      Aw, I wish I had your guy!

  • LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

    Your poor husband. Sounds like he was having a really hard time : (

    • CrystalSchubert

      I know, right?

  • Shelly Lloyd

    You were a lot calmer than I would have been. I would have started screaming just to interrupt his phone conversation. I hope you complained about him to the hospital admins.

    • CrystalSchubert

      I never complain, haha… I am a doormat.

  • jo

    One of my kids was positioned wrong (sunny side up or something), beyond excruciating pain. And I’d had a natural birth before so that pain was my point of reference. My anesthesiologist dicked around too, joking with my husband about how I looked like I could rip someone’s face off.

    • Natasha B

      Big hugs on the Sunny side up. #2 was that way. Worst. Pain. Ever.

    • CrystalSchubert

      My babe was positioned wrong, too. I feel (felt?) your pain. Ugh.

  • Allyson_et_al

    My anesthesiologist for my firs childbirth yelled at me for yelling during a contraction. Also, the epidural itself was so painful that I steadfastly refused one with my second. When they finally did one (a needed a c-section, so I ultimately had no choice), it didn’t hurt at all. So the first guy was not only an ass, but not very good at his job, apparently.

    • Jill

      That is the worst when someone (especially those who have to use needles) gets mad at you for getting mad at them for sucking at their job.

    • CrystalSchubert

      My sister tore really bad and her doctor yelled at her for yelling when he was stitching her up–after the epidural had worn off. Clearly, these men have never felt pain.

  • jendra_berri

    You win the patience award!

  • ScienceGeek

    My anaesthesiologist was awesome. He sure as hell didn’t take any phone calls, and I didn’t even realised he’d done his thing until my legs went all warm and tingly. When my husband went off to help with the baby, he sat by my head and kept me company while the OB/Gyn finished up my c-section. I don’t remember much of him, just his kindness, and when he said, ‘I know this is the least of your concerns right now, but my fee is covered by your insurance.’ He was right, I didn’t care at the time, but when I’d recovered, it was one less thing to think about.
    Now I wish we could clone him and send him to every hospital on earth.

    • Airbones

      HAHAHA! The insurance comment! I would have died. For real though, I had an awesome anesthesiologist as well. He was super comforting and gave me a temple massage during my c-section.

  • js argh

    Your writing is awesome, just FYI.

    • CrystalSchubert

      Aw, thanks! :)

  • ShanLea

    I would have had to cut a bitch, seriously. I was lucky to have pretty great anesthesiologists for both of mine. I have a crippling fear of needles, despite spending my whole life watching my mom, a type 1 diabetic, give herself shots. My first words to whomever is poking me is”just don’t let me see the needle, and I will be fine” When my 13 year old was born, my OBGYN decided I should have an intrathecal instead of an epidural, since they’re just as good (news flash doc, they’re not!). I repeated my warnings about not letting me see the needle, the doc agreed, then my BF stood in front of me holding my hands and I proceeded to watch his eyes bug completely out of his head at the sight of the needle. Yeah, no…… 2nd time around, 10 years later, told hubby not to worry about holding my hand, just get fully out of my line of sight. Did not even feel the epidural going in. Power of the mind…boom!

    • CrystalSchubert

      Haha, way to ruin everything BF.

  • Kite

    Oh god I shouldn’t have read this article. *prays to the universe*