Baby J @ 1 dayFor a very long stretch of my pregnancy with Baby J, the thought of a natural childbirth never crossed my mind until I attended a childbirth education class at the end of my pregnancy. I decided that I wanted to try for an intervention-free delivery but I wasn't putting pressure on myself. I had a lot of things working against me and I was minimally prepared. I had been having contractions for a long time and was walking around the hospital when a contraction brought me to my knees.
I had no idea what I was in for and decided at that point that I wanted the epidural. I hadn't prepared myself with the tools to cope with labor. My labor stalled so they broke my water and administered pitocin. The epidural did help me relax for a while but it wore off as I was nearing the end of transition and I felt everything. Baby J arrived in my 37th week and I forgot about all that pain as soon as I saw him. It's really true. You really do forget the pain. I was so exhilarated by the birth that I was saying that I couldn't wait for a second child just hours after delivering my first.
Bean @ 2 daysJust 18 months later, I was back at the same hospital, again in my 37th week, ready to deliver Bean. This time, I had been walking around at 5 cm for over a week and had been having prodomal labor off and on for months with threatened pre-term labor. Again, I was hoping for a natural childbirth. I was minimally more prepared this time but I wanted to give it a shot.
I still wasn't having really painful contractions at 6 cm but the nurse cautioned me that if I wanted an epidural, it was "now or never." Even though I wasn't having a lot of pain at that point, she warned me that things would get much more intense when I hit 7 and since I was rapidly progressing, it may be too late. So, again, I freaked out and went for the epidural. Huge mistake!
I warned the anesthesiologist that I have a small epidural spot and that they had difficulty getting it during my first pregnancy. He had an even harder time. Looking back, it was the most painful - and scary - part of my labor. Each time he tried, it felt like an electric jolt shot though my spine. I cried and kept asking for breaks. I don't know why I didn't ask him to stop. For some reason, I was afraid labor pain even more. The worst part is that the epidural didn't work, that is except for the fact that it stalled my labor. They broke my water when I hit 7 cm but that didn't help me progress so again, they administered pitocin. Remember, the epidural didn't give me ANY pain relief. Those pitocin contractions were incredibly painful. But they were short-lived. I progressed from 7 cm to complete with the urge to push in less than 10 minutes. Two pushes later and Bean was out. It was a fast and furious labor - 4 hours in total. I still wonder how long I might have been comfortable and how much more peaceful my labor would have been if I had declined the epidural.
In the end, it doesn't really matter because I have two beautiful little boys but now I know where I went wrong in my efforts for a natural childbirth. If I ever have the opportunity to deliver another child - and I hope I do but not for a long, long time - I have a good idea what I need to do to accomplish an unmedicated birth. I am not personally comfortable with a home birth so I would like to deliver at a local midwife birth center. I will be considered high risk for a number of reasons, so I may need to deliver in a hospital. The location doesn't really matter to me though. For me, being prepared and confidence are the key. I now know that I can handle the pain. If I could handle pitocin contractions through transition, I can handle anything. If I ever have another child, I will prepare myself and Husband with classes well in advance of delivery and I will hire a doula to support me and Husband through the process, remind me that I can manage labor and give me the tools to do it.
I hope that I can have my ideal birth experience someday but until then, I'll celebrate The Feminist Breeder's home delivery and congratulate her on her beautiful new daughter.