First off, if you ever find yourself in a situation where your epidual isn't working, you are waiting to get to the hospital, or your waiting for an epidural, the quicker you accept the fact that you are in pain and are going to be in pain, the better. Holding on to frustration, anger, or ill-will will only prolong the pain and make it worse.
Of course this is easier said than done, especially if it is at the last moment. The best thing to do is go into labor knowing that things may not go as expected and plan for that. Then at least it won't be quite so difficult to let go of some of those negative feelings.
Another thing to remember is water and heat are your friends. Water is often times refered to as a midwifes epidural. While it does not take the pain away. It definately decreases the sensation of pain and allows you to deal with it better. If you are able to, hop in the shower or bath. Also, using heat on your abdomen or lower back is another great help. If you are at home, get an old sock, fill it with rice, microwave it so it's hot and then have someone else place in on your lower back, and push hard on the back with it during a contraction.
Deep breathing is also a great help. There are numerous ways to work breathing into your labor, but some of them take more practice. The easiest way to do this in an emergancy, is to just breath deeply. As you do this focus more on the breath than the contraction and as you breath out focus on relaxing your face, arm, and leg muscles.
If you possibley can, DO NOT give birth on your back. It increases how much pain you feel by a lot. It may sound weird or awkward to give birth in any other position, but trust me, on the back is by far the worst position to be in. I've experienced it both ways and there was a huge difference.
If at all possible, get someone who has birthed without medication there with you. It helps to have someone there that has been through it and can tell you if what you are feeling in normal or not, or just talk you through contractions while someone else is rushing around trying to get the needle in the right place, or call the paramedics.
Ok...that's the down and dirty about emergency pain control. It won't take it away, but all these things will allow you to work with your contractions more instead of fighting them, which makes the whole situation much worse. And remember women have been doing this for thousands of years....you can do it. It's not even about who is strong enough or not...sometimes you just have to. Hopefully this can help make it the best possible situation it can be.
Alright, I'm on to a different topic....I think I'll talk about motherhood and sacrifice in the next post. We'll see.