There are so many ways to bring a baby into this world – all natural and drug free – or with pain management – or by c-section. For some reason, I have always ranked these in my own ridiculous hierarchy, as if one was better than the other.
My first pregnancy I was determined to go drug free. I practiced yoga, positive affirmations and meditations for pretty much the entire pregnancy mentally preparing myself for this life event. And guess what? 2 days before my due date, I did it! I had my son completely natural – no pain meds – nada! I was so proud of myself! I freaking did it! It was like a badge of honor I was happy to wear.
My second pregnancy I had the same plan and determination to have a drug free delivery. The only difference was I sailed past my due date and because of “advanced maternal age” my doctor wanted to induce me at 41 weeks. Woah! Wait…induction? Induction scared me….doesn’t that bring on harder and faster labor? What if I can’t handle it and I need to get (gasp!!) the epidural?!! What if the induction doesn’t progress my labor and it only intensifies the pain or I end up in a c-section?? So many thoughts and fears – so – much – anxiety!
This is when you not only have to trust your gut, and do what is best for you – it’s helpful to have a doctor who you trust who is going to put your best interest first, in case, like me, you’re struggling to make the right decision.
So, we schedule the induction and off we go Friday morning. We get to the hospital early and I’m still willing this labor to start on it’s own before having any intervention – but no such luck. Dr checks me around 9-9:30am and tells me I’m only about 3cm and 50% effaced – she’s going to break my water and see if that jump starts things and will be back around 1pm to check me again and make a decision on what’s next.
Hours go by and I feel NOTHING. The closer to 1pm the more anxious I am starting to feel about possibly having to start pitocin. 1pm rolls around and the doctor doesn’t come – 1:30pm she’s still not here, but I’m starting to notice more consistent “contractions” starting. They still don’t hurt but I’m starting to become hopeful things are progressing naturally. By 2pm the doctor shows up and tells me I’m only 4cm and 70% effaced and that we need to start the pitocin. I agree to it, but I’m scared. Are the contractions going to still develop slowly and steady and increasingly get more intense – or will it just (BAM!) happen like 0-60 and I won’t be prepared?
Contractions started to become more intense and more regular. Around 4pm I’m thinking I’ve already done the natural drug free route – I know I can do this! But….do I want to? I’ve already gone 9 days over my due date, I don’t know how much longer this is going to take, I don’t know what to do. So my husband runs out to get the doctor so we could discuss the options. She asked me “what if you are 9cm?” I told her I could tough it out – well, I was only 6cm and 90% effaced. She said it was happening fast but if I wanted the epidural “now” was the time to get it. So, I did.
Going drug free with the first pregnancy wasn’t all about trying to prove I could do it (although it WAS one of the reasons) but I was just scared of the epidural itself. No not the “huge needle” in my back, but the horror stories I have heard from things going wrong during the insertion process, to it not working, to it working too much, to it leading to excruciating migraine type headaches after delivery. I didn’t want to deal with any of the potential side effects. Well, the anesthesiologist was excellent! The process didn’t “hurt” and it was all over fairly quickly. It took about 10 mins for the “relief” to kick in but once it did I was able to FULLY relax. I never lost feeling in my legs or feet and I could still feel the contractions but the edge was off and it was more of a pressure feeling. I think I might have even dozed off between contractions because I was so calm. I was so calm and relaxed I was surprised when the doctor came in and told me it was time to push! Wait…didn’t I just get the epidural?
After about 5 mins and only a few pushes she was out! I only suffered a small first degree tear. The process was over and I honestly felt great!
With my son not only did I endure hard and painful labor for 6-7 hours, and had to push for 30 mins to get him out. I screamed in primal pain through the whole process. I had a more severe tear as well AND an internal cervical tear. I had dramatically low blood pressure after delivery (passed out twice because of that) was passing blood clots the size of softballs from the internal tear, becamesuper pale, nauseous, couldn’t eat or get out of bed until my doctor came back to the hospital to do the repair (which called for anesthesia that I refused) my husband had to change all the diapers and bring the baby to me when he needed to eat since I was in bed for a good 24 hour after delivery.
Reflecting back on both scenarios it reminded me of my marathon. I trained hard for my marathon for months and months and on that day it still hurt really bad. When I was done I was happy that I did it and felt proud that I could be added to the list of people who can say they ran a marathon – but, i have no intention on doing another one. I mean if there was a way to run the marathon and at mile 18 they tell me “you have a choice to keep running or get on this scooter and finish the race and no matter which way you choose you still finish the race and you still get credit for it at the end” then I might consider it. That scooter is the epidural. At the end of the labor and delivery process you still end up with a baby – whether you choose to ride the scooter to the end or not.
I’m not saying there will be a 3rd pregnancy – but if there is, I’m not ashamed to say I would pick the epidural again – I have no regrets.
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