Wish­ing for death while giv­ing birth

China Daily (USA) - - PAGE TWO - Con­tact the writer at erik_nils­son@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

“Kill me!” my wife shouted. She meant it. I could see it in her face. She truly wanted to die. I’d never seen a hu­man suf­fer so much.

Her body hurt more than ever. My soul hurt more than ever.

Our son was about to en­ter this world.

She wanted to exit it.

Any­thing to stop the pain. Any­thing.

My wife had leapt from her bed and was jump­ing up and down, thrash­ing her limbs, howl­ing — her face con­torted in a way I’d never seen and haven’t since. And I never want to. The re­cent news of a woman who com­mit­ted sui­cide in Shaanxi prov­ince’s Yulin when child­birth be­came un­bear­able brought us back to that mo­ment. It lit­er­ally hit home. The 26-year-old had orig­i­nally in­sisted on a nat­u­ral birth but be­gan to beg for a C-sec­tion when the tor­ment of la­bor be­came in­suf­fer­able.

There are ques­tions about re­spon­si­bil­ity. The woman’s fam­ily and the hospi­tal of­fer dif­fer­ing ac­counts as to who re­fused her re­quest for the pro­ce­dure.

(Me­dia re­ports aren’t clear as to whether lo­cal or spinal anes­the­sia was an op­tion — and if not, why not.)

But the point is that painfree child­birth is in­deed rare in the coun­try.

It ac­counts for 5 per­cent of births na­tion­wide and about 30 per­cent in Bei­jing.

The fig­ure is 85 per­cent in the United States. Guangzhou Women and Chil­dren’s Med­i­cal Cen­ter’s anes­the­sia depart­ment di­rec­tor, Song Xin­grong, told China Daily four out of five women who come to the hospi­tal are un­aware of it.

We learned it of­ten isn’t even an op­tion — about a week be­fore Sa­gan’s due date.

The love of my life and I stood out­side a pub­lic hospi­tal, hold­ing each other and sob­bing.

We’d pre­vi­ously ar­ranged for our son to be born at the same pri­vate hospi­tal as our daugh­ter. There are var­i­ous rea­sons we’d elected against pub­lic hos­pi­tals.

One is they in­formed us there prob­a­bly wouldn’t be an anes­the­si­ol­o­gist avail­able.

We knew how ex­cru­ci­at­ing birth could be, hav­ing al­ready brought our first child into the world.

The epidu­ral was planned be­fore the preg­nancy.

But the pri­vate hospi­tal dropped us about two weeks be­fore the birth, cit­ing an un­re­lated health con­di­tion my wife has that would in no way af­fect pain-free child­birth.

We couldn’t hop on a plane to else­where by then.

So, pub­lic hos­pi­tals seemed our only choice.

We were dev­as­tated. Hor­ri­fied. Des­per­ate.

Some peo­ple can en­dure giv­ing birth with­out an epidu­ral. My wife knew the stakes.

For­tu­nately, we found an­other pri­vate hospi­tal that ac­cepted us, last minute. It was ex­pen­sive. And worth ev­ery penny.

We cried again. This time, again, for joy.

About a week later, we were sob­bing once more.

This time, be­cause of my wife’s la­bor pains.

At one point, my wife screamed, “If I had a gun ...” She meant it. I could see it in her face. For­tu­nately, the anes­the­si­ol­o­gist ar­rived. Quickly.

My wife was able to bear child­birth.

Sa­gan was born in Bei­jing on Aug 16, 2015.

We cried a fi­nal time. A fi­nal time, for joy.

Scan the code to hear an au­dio ver­sion.

Erik Nils­son Sec­ond Thoughts

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