Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Alzheimer’s for an Hour

Miriam Schweid

My speech was slow and slurred, and the midwife just patted my arm kindly, pitifully, and said it’s okay. Only it wasn’t.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

When I became a young child riding a duck, I yelled to the midwife that I’m 30 years old and completely normal. 

But my speech was slow and slurred, and she just patted my arm kindly, pitifully, and said it’s okay. Only it wasn’t. 

Each time I close my eyes to enjoy a delicious kimpeturin nap, the image of me riding atop a black-and-white dog invades my thoughts. That’s how I got my precious baby into this world. As a dog kicking and barking and trying to bite. I was completely normal, am completely normal. All it took was a little liquid in the IV line, and I was reduced to a hallucinating lunatic scaring the wits out of my husband, midwife, and nurses. 

I thought I knew what to expect when giving birth. I’d done it three times, and I could do it a fourth. It was a simple enough sequence: contractions, epidural, birth, love. But this time around, none of this worked. After months of incessant, merciless nausea and migraines, I had no veins left for an IV line to get some hydration. After consulting with our rav and doctor, we scheduled an induction. 

Then the doubts set in. I was tired of headaches, and I’ve heard plenty of stories about epidural-induced headaches. I got a sudden fear of an epidural. But Pitocin can be ruthless, and my pain-tolerance level wasn’t very high to begin with. So when the doctor mentioned Stadol, a narcotic offered to relieve labor pain, it seemed like a wonderful idea. All I had to do was close my eyes and let it overtake me. 

The first few minutes were blissful. Relief and a deep tiredness overtook my senses and I almost joined the rest of the world slumbering peacefully. That is, until my brain started fighting the medication and my subconscious started intellectualizing and resisting the effects of grogginess with… hallucinations.

Photo: Shutterstock

It started with the conviction that I couldn’t open my eyes. A rush of scenes and thoughts followed. Because I was resisting the medication, the pain was just as intense. So how does a hallucinating, mature, intellectual adult react to pain? You shouldn’t know. 

When the baby was finally born, the mazel tovs from all present were slightly hesitant. After all, the mother wasn’t really there, and my husband was afraid to make the phone calls when he wasn’t completely sure I’d be coming back. Slowly, reality merged with the hallucinations, and an hour after giving birth, I held my son for the first time. 

All that night, I cried, and in the morning, I was still crying. Crying for the mind that is so vulnerable and for all my intellectual capabilities that meant so little in the face of a little injection. My memories are vague — for which I’m grateful — and the only reason I remember anything at all is because of the few lucid moments I had during the entire experience. More than the pain of not being mentally present at the birth, was the deep humiliation and pain at feeling misunderstood.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Drink to Eternity
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Redemption doesn’t simply mean being let out of jail
Klal Yisrael Is Always Free
Yonoson Rosenblum "In that merit will Klal Yisrael continue to exist”
Home Free
Eytan Kobre My baseline for comparison is admittedly weak
Believe in Your Own Seder
Rabbi Judah Mischel Hashem is satisfied when we do our best
Picture Perfect
Yisroel Besser Take a picture — and this time, send it to yourself
Flying Solo
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman As Pesach loomed closer, his resentment was growing
Hanging on by a Hair
Jacob L. Freedman MD “Do you still think that I’m not completely crazy?”
A Song for Every Season
Riki Goldstein Influencers map out their personal musical soundtracks
Subliminal Speech
Faigy Peritzman The deeper the recognition, the deeper the effect
The Big Change
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Spelling things out clears clouds of resentment
The Count-Up
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz Tap the middos of Sefirah to recreate yourself
The Baker: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP with Zivia Reischer "She can't get married if she can't build a relationship...
Know This: Infertility
As Told to Bracha Stein There was no place for me. I didn’t belong
Dear Shadchan
The Girl Here's the thing: I need time