The doctor is not awake when Levin arrives, so Levin fetches the opium from the apothecary, then returns for the doctor; at this point, Levin is becoming more and more wild in his impatience. The doctor takes his time getting ready, which utterly infuriates Levin. Levin returns home, and he grows more and more anxious and upset throughout the day; he also finds himself praying to God, even though he’s an unbeliever. Time seems to move both extremely slowly and extremely quickly. He feels the same frenetic, frenzied way he did when his brother, Nikolai, was dying: even though that was an occasion of grief and this is a time of joy, both lie on the extremes of normal human life.
Both Nikolai’s death and Kitty’s labor occur on either extreme of the bell curve of normal existence. Levin might be able to convince himself that he is a nonbeliever in the day-to-day activities that occupy his rational brain, but when emotional extremities take over and passion kicks in, Levin finds himself instinctively turning to a higher power. Tolstoy himself underwent a very similar spiritual conversion, moving from staunch atheist to a firmly spiritual person.