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Thursday, January 17, 2013

mama confessions : to epidural or not to epidural

When I tell people I don't want to get an epidural during my delivery they look at me like I am crazy.

Maybe I am.

Especially since I got to experience both sides of labor: full-on excruciating contractions for ten hours straight, including the pain of back labor, and then the unbelievable relief and complete absence of pain with the {very, very strong} epidural I received.

So why would I not just get the epidural as soon as I get to the hospital?   Believe me, it is tempting.  I hear the birth stories of friends who have done this, and I am in awe of the night and day difference in experience they had from me.  They are laughing, happy, visiting and Intstagraming pics of themselves and their husbands while in labor.  It always blows my mind.  I think, "Wow, that looks like childbirth is actually enjoyable!"  

So why, oh why, wouldn't I go that route this time around?  

Believe me, I understand the rationale: why experience pain when you don't have to?  God gave us the medicine to relieve the pain, so why not use it?  Why not just have a easy, perhaps slightly draining, birth?

{My apologies to those who got an epidural and still found it hard.  I am only speaking from my own experience, but as soon as I got the epidural the next ten hours of labor and pushing seemed like a breeze.  I could have pushed out ten kids with that epidural.}

And yet, my heart and my mind still desire a non-medicated, natural birth.

Not trying to be a "hero."  I don't think it is necessarily "heroic" to give birth.   But, it is, natural.  Women have done it for thousands of years.  That is the thing that makes me want to do it the most.  I know my body can do it.   I trust that I am strong enough mentally and physically to handle childbirth.

Plus, I'm not a fan of medication and never have been.  It is simply a personal preference.  I rarely take anything, even mild stuff for headaches.  I don't go to the doctor unless I absolutely feel like death.  I prefer to treat my depression non-medically.  It is my personal choice.

My epidural experience was fine.  (But I wouldn't call it awesome.)  I honestly felt I needed it at the time, as I had been stuck at 8cm for hours and no one seemed to have any idea why.  I had no idea if I would have enough energy to push out the baby or even endure the rest of my labor, as I was immediately falling asleep after each contraction.   I felt like the epidural was my only option.   No one gave me a better one.

So off to blissful numbness I went.  From that point on I couldn't even feel a contraction at all.   I guessed when they were happening during the push process, which most likely took longer due to that fact.

Afterward I couldn't feel my legs or walk by myself to bathroom {or pee at all, for that matter.  hello catheter} for 24 hours.  I couldn't change my baby's first diapers.  I couldn't get up to hug visitors.  I felt like a useless, immobile blob until the epidural wore off.   I'm not a big fan of having people do things for me or being unable to move.  Every time I look at this picture I remember the numbness and immobility:
it was hard to even get him out of the bedside bassinet...but at least I could blog, right? :P
In the end I was blessed with a healthy baby, and a beautiful hour and a half of holding him close to my chest and feeding him for the first time.   That makes it all worth it.  Epidural or not.
on his dada's chest
But since then I have learned just how differently things could have gone.  How I probably could have made it through without the epidural if someone had been knowledgeable enough to realize my baby was posterior {as in, the doc would have checked me earlier!!!  Or I had an experienced doula} and that I had another "water" that needed breaking.

So yes, I am again going to try for the natural birth I desire.  We've hired a doula for additional knowledge/support.  I am trying to be in good shape physically and, probably more importantly, prepare myself mentally for how long my labor could actually be.  Oh, and sleep/rest a LOT prior to my due date.

Bring on the pain!
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