As soon as the contractions kicked in properly I told the nurse I wanted an epidural. And it was smart of me to act fast, as by the time the epidural started working I was almost ready to push.
Anyway - a picture says more than a thousand words. So here are the pictures (all courtesy of S.).
This is me after being induced, having annoyingly painful tiny non-effective cramps. Note the hands. We're on our way to the Botanic Gardens as I was told to "keep walking" and I got sick and tired of the hospital corridors.
"Take that phone away. I'm in pain. Do NOT take a picture. DON'T. TAKE. A. PICTURE." This is while I was having contractions every couple of minutes and the spikes on the graph paper resembled the Pyrenees. Again, note the balled fist and the hand holding tightly on to the bed rail.
This is me fifteen minutes later after the epidural. Contractions still every minute or so, still spiking off the chart, a mere hour or so before the actual delivery. Note the relaxed pose of the hands. And the smile!
90 percent of pain would be taken away, they said, but in my case it was more like 99 percent - "I'm not having contractions anymore!" I complained to S. "Yes, you are", he said while pointing at the spiking graphs on the monitor.
This is me in the lovely breast-feeding gown provided by Gleneagles with two of the three most adorable people in the world. (Even if neither of them sleeps on command.)
Not so lovely side effect of the epidural: having to call the nurse several times during the night for a bedpan.
But added bonus: not discovering the horrors of after pain until morning, when the epidural wore off, and thus getting a reasonably restful night.