When my 12th grade teacher concluded her class on CPR & First Aid and spoke briefly about Labor & Delivery, she asked who planned to have an epidural. I raised my hand.
Not that I knew much about it; knowing that it took away pain was enough info for me.
And when she described how long the needle of the epidural shot is, she again asked who planned to have one anyway. I raised my hand again.
She described some pros and cons and then asked the same question once again, it was me and only one other girl who still raised our hands.
And although it wasn’t a decision I had to make just then, it was already a firm decision for me. I knew there was nothing that could talk me out of it. But it did kind of bother me that the teacher was pushing a pain-filled birthing experience.
Fast forward 5 years, and there I was sitting in my childbirth classes and the instructor went through all the tips and methods of breathing, and she once again described that long needle…and asked who would take it. My hand shot up. I didn’t care the size of the needle; I knew what I needed to know. I’d heard freak stories on all types of births, with and without the Epidural. I knew my strengths, I knew my weaknesses; and opting for the hard way was not my thing.I was determined to go with the Epidural.
When the time finally came, I tried the breathing first. For about 5 seconds. And I sat on the great birthing ball for a grand total of 38 seconds. It was not for me. I went back to plan A – Epidural. And I thankfully had the most wonderful, exhilarating experience, truly enjoying every moment of the miracle called childbirth.
Fast forward to birth number three. By the time I get to the hospital, even I know I’m further along than I want to be. And although I know I want an epidural, I also know that it may be too late. I’m 9 centimeters.
And so for those who want to go without pain meds, it’s a dream birth. But for me, it’s terrible. Barely 30 minutes later, baby boy is welcomed to the world. Only I don’t feel all that excited. I feel like a wounded animal, lying alone in the forest, moaning and groaning for help. Sure, there’s plenty of people in the room. And everything went without a hitch, Boruch Hashem. I am grateful for that. But it doesn’t replace the feeling of alone-ness and beaten that fills my entire being.
I didn’t get my Epidural.
The nurse offers me the baby. Unlike my two previous births, I do not want to hold the baby. I can’t deal with that yet. I need to deal with myself. And I feel emotionally defeated.
They wheel me to my room, as I’m paraded down the halls I can’t help wondering, where’s the confetti? The trumpets? The whistles and marching bands? Do you guys KNOW what I just went through?? But I am not a hero. I’m just another mom doing what moms do.
I settle in my room, feed the baby and start to calm down.
My labor coach pokes her head in the room a little later, glowing with pride at how well I did.
“It was amazing! How do you feel?”
And I’ll never forget the response that I blurted out, or the look on her face after I said it.
“I feel like an idiot.”
That was the absolute truth.
“I feel like an idiot because I know there’s an easier way to do this.”
I know I could’ve gotten to the hospital earlier. I wanted to. I should have. It was circumstances out of my control that made me walk in so far into labor.
And I promise myself that I will never ever wait that long again.
With pregnancy number 4, my greatest anxiety was that I would not miss my Epidural
And as soon as contractions began, I was in the car, en route to the hospital. Before I even said my name, I informed them to call the anesthesiologist. I made it sound urgent; that I have quick labors and need it now. And 20 minutes later, on the dot, the guy was there. Only after that incredible sensation of the pain dissipating filled my being did I finally relax and let go of all my resentment from the previous birth.
Fast forward to just two months ago. It’s five days before my due date. And I feel that feeling. The feeling you wonder if you’ll remember what it feels like when you feel it again.
It’s a contraction.
But I’m too tired, not today. I know I was dreaming of being early…but I’m too tired right then.
I go to sleep hoping it’ll go away. Not just because I’m tired, but also because I’m determined to get all my kids well visits done before the new baby arrives. And there’s one appointment left for the following day.
The next day goes as planned, and I watch the clock; I need to get this appointment in! It’s the most obsessive form of nesting and I know it.
And that feeling comes back. And of course I decide I’m not sure it’s a contraction.
And so I do what we all do these days when we turn off our own brain and rely on an outside source; I whip out my phone and type in: what do contractions feel like.
It took about 10 seconds to get back to my senses; hello, you know what they feel like!! You’ve gone through this 7 times before, you know it’s contractions!
But I can make it to the appointment…and even a quick detour to Nordstrom Rack because I must get my daughter shoes before I have a baby. I’m not sure why, but I must.
Somewhere between the shoe section and the bathroom, I realize this is real. I need to get home.
And my need-to-get-an-Epidural anxiety kicks in.
That’s when I know I’m really in labor.
It’s barely an hour later that I walk into the hospital and march straight to the nurse’s station.
“I’m in labor and I need an epidural.”
They kind of half smirk at each other, and ask for my name. I hand over my ID and again announce that they should call the anesthesiologist. Images of the birth almost 9 years earlier flash before me and I become more persistent. So I casually tell them that this is birth #8 and things move quite quickly..
Ok, I exaggerated a bit on the quickly part… But for good reason – I needed my Epidural!
It did the trick – they started working in fast forward mode. They say they can’t call him till they get me signed in. I remind them how quickly things move.
When he comes, I give the anesthesiologist the warmest welcome, like he’s a long lost friend.
When he jokingly says you can always name a kid after me, I agree it’s a great idea.
And within in a few minutes, I’m relaxed. Time for my labor nap.
Turns out things weren’t so quick…I gave birth 5 hours later. But that was fine by me. I got my Epidural.
Whenever anyone starts telling me about the beauty of a pain-filled Epidural free birth, I have to interrupt. I did it both ways. You can not tell me how beautiful the pain feels. It didn’t feel that way for me.
So my fellow moms, let’s stop convincing people to feel what we felt. The world is filled with good-intentioned people trying to tell moms what their experiences will be.
But there’s a problem with that – you can’t sell someone an experience. We can’t tell people what to experience; we can provide facts and suggestions and pros and cons; but we must never offer our experience.
This is all my own personal experience. Now you create your own one.