Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Journey of Birth

A year ago, one of my best friends anticipated the birth of her sixth child. She expected things would go much as they had the last five times, with labor pains slowly progressing and plenty of time to get to the hospital, get an epidural, and enjoy the experience of birth.

What she got instead was a scary, overwhelming, and painful experience. The pains came the same as usual, at first. She called her husband, asking him to wrap up what he was doing and come home to take her to the hospital. Then the pains were overwhelming, and the call to her husband was urgent, "Hurry! Get home now!" Her mother, a nurse, was there to watch her kids and help her through the pain, and soon her husband arrived for the 15 minute drive to the hospital. The baby by now was anxious to make his debut as his father drove as quickly as possible down the busy road. As they were driving, they ended up behind a car going well below the 45-mile-an-hour speed limit. Desperate, as my friend endured the overwhelming pain of childbirth, her husband flashed his lights at the car, which responded by slowing down even further!

They made it to the hospital just minutes before baby arrived, but my friend had to call on all the strength inside her to endure the agony she was experiencing. No pain management, no epidurals, just the baby arriving in nature's painful way.

My friend's experience has made me realize that I have taken for granted my calm, peaceful, and thanks to epidurals, virtually pain-free births and brought to me the clear reality that as fast as my labors can be, I might be in the same situation sometime. I've often said that if my water ever breaks on its own, then I'm likely to be giving birth on the side of the road somewhere, but until I spoke with my friend about her experience, I didn't realize just how frightening that could be for someone who isn't prepared.

In three months, I will give birth again, and for the first time, I'm considering going without the epidural. I'm ambivalent about the decision, reluctant to do something different when I've had such wonderful experiences in the past, afraid that I might not be determined enough to see it through, or that I might change my mind when the hardest pains hit but that by then it will be too late. And I'm worried that I might ruin the experience for my husband, who has been by my side with every birth and has enjoyed his wife's normal, cheerful personality throughout the process.
(with my seventh miracle)

In fact, when I first suggested the idea to him, he reminded me of what happened "the last time" I tried it, when I lost control and yelled at him. It surprised me he has such clear memories of those moments, because "the last time" I tried a natural birth, it was also my first time, nearly eleven years ago.

I was ambivalent then about the natural option, deciding I would wait and see to make that decision. I was busier than ever before in my life, working two part-time jobs and finishing my last semester of school (Lillian was born 4 days after graduation), so I didn't have much time to ponder on my choice. I didn't take any classes or read any books, but I knew that both of my sisters had given birth naturally multiple times, and I expected that if they could, then I could. One sister told me, "Sure it hurts, but it only lasts a few hours and it's over." Others offered other advice and suggestions. One friend, also pregnant, wondered aloud to me if it would mean as much if she didn't feel the pain (later, as she experienced the overpowering pain, she decided she didn't care about such philosophical questions anymore and was eternally grateful for her epidural). Two weeks before my due date, as I waited for my husband outside his class, a 40ish woman passing through stopped to talk to me. She asked me about my due date and then asked me if I was going to have an epidural.

"I haven't decided yet. I think I'll just wait and see."

"What? Why wait? Epidurals are the best thing ever invented. You're crazy if you don't have one."

I was taken aback that a stranger would be so bold as to judge a choice I hadn't even made yet, but I also knew that decisions about birthing can be quite polarizing and that just as she would think me crazy if I went without the epidural, others would think me less of a woman if I had one.

My sisters and mother had all had early births, usually two to three weeks before their due date, so I expected the same, particularly as when I was checked at 36 weeks and found to be 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced already. I had lots and lots of contractions that month. Sometimes, I'd sit in a class tuning out the teacher as I counted the intervals between contractions, "fifteen minutes . . . fourteen minutes this time . . . are they getting closer?" I was sure I'd be making a little graduation outfit for my newborn and carrying her through the ceremony. When that didn't happen, my mother feared my water might break while I was on stage. It didn't. Graduation came and went, along with my due date. Four days later, anxious and desperate, and with an induction scheduled for the next day, I figured I had nothing to lose and choked down a few teaspoons of caster oil.

Whether it was the disgusting, slimy oil or my body's natural response, I finally got those contractions to come close enough together to get to the hospital. After an overly-long admitting process, I sat with my husband for several hours waiting for things to progress. The contractions were three or four minutes apart, and it was amazing to feel my stomach tighten and squeeze at regular intervals. I wasn't in a lot of pain and was able to read while we waited. The book I was reading at that time was, ironically, Great Expectations. But soon, it felt like an intrusion to be reading when something so impressive was going on, and I set the book aside.

I had expected to feel pain. I had expected to feel nervousness and excitement. What I hadn't expected, at least not in the abundance presence, was far beyond any of those feelings. "Do you feel that?" I asked my husband quietly. It was the power of God's Spirit in that room, telling me in feelings rather than words that I was a part of something far greater than I understood. I felt tears come to my eyes as I contemplated the miracle of my baby's entrance into this world.

Soon, the doctor came in and broke my water, asking if I wanted an epidural beforehand. "No," I said, "nothing's been too bad so far." My water broke in a large gush, and the doctor left the room. Then the next contraction hit, and the pain was more than I could bear. I cried out, my husband rushed to my side, and I yelled, "Don't touch me!" I was not rational or calm, and my body began to shake during the next few contractions. I was completely out of control of the situation and I was scared. After fifteen minutes and between contractions, I told my husband, "I want an epidural."

The fifteen minutes it took for the anesthesiologist to arrive seemed like forever, and I hardly flinched as the sting of the needle went into my back. My body continued to shake uncontrollably, and I couldn't understand why it was taking so long for that epidural to take effect. I shook and gasped with each contraction, but finally, finally, the pain subsided as the epidural took effect. I still felt the contractions, and when the time came, I felt the pressure and the need to push. I felt just enough. With some warm blankets, even some of my shaking subsided, though not completely until after the baby was born.

I felt such peace and joy during those next few hours. I felt good about the decision to get the epidural, as I could now focus on the awareness I felt of my daughter's presence. Finally, at 11:53 p.m. on the last day of our student insurance (we had other insurance through DH's new work by then, but we'd been paying through the nose for our student insurance and wanted to get the full benefits), my daughter was born. When I greeted her, it felt like a reunion, as if I was greeting my best friend, someone I had known for a long time and had just lately been parted from.

I have felt the same special feelings but in different ways with all my births. Each time, I have felt of the sacredness and have known that I was part of something larger than myself, the birth of a new soul into the world.

I have also come to love that particular anesthesiologist, Dr. L, and after having a different doctor give me an epidural with my third birth, I appreciated his amazing talent to administer just enough and no more. With my third, the doctor made me so numb I could hardly feel anything, and it took longer than ever before to wear off. We've been blessed to have Dr. L be on call with five out of our sixth births, and I'm considering scheduling this next birth, if by induction, on a day when he's at the hospital!

I've also learned a few things about my births. One is that my bag of water seems to have super-strength. Despite walking around for the last month of every pregnancy at least 2 cm dilated and 70% effaced and dealing with lots of daily contractions, it has never broken on its own, even when I was expecting twins. So I am usually induced, sometimes with pitocin and sometimes without, but always with the doctor or resident breaking my water.

Which brings me to the second thing about my births. With one exception (when the baby's head was transverse and labor halted for four hours), my births move incredibly fast after my water breaks, with the baby arriving within an hour or two of that event. With my twins, I went from 4 cm dilated to 10 in just ten minutes, and they had to hurry my doctor along and tell me not to push while they wheeled me into the O.R. (Most twins are delivered in the OR just in case of complications requiring a C-section). Allison arrived just five minutes after that, with her sister following seven minutes later.

After that "last time" as my husband put it, I have always asked for the epidural before my water breaks, and I've felt able to focus on the peace, joy, and miracle of each child's entrance into the world. Birth for me is a transforming and deeply spiritual experience, and I've never felt that my choice to use modern medicine to alleviate the pain has diminished that experience.

So why am I considering a change that this time? Why switch boats when the one I've chosen the last six times has brought me peacefully to the other side of the river? I'm not sure that I will change, but I am considering it and I've been reading a couple of books to help me decide.

I think for me it comes down to two ideas. The first is that a natural birth is something I've never done before. Like running my first 5K last fall, it's something that I know will be hard but that I'll appreciate for its difficulty. It's the idea of having a tough goal and then achieving it. I don't think I'll feel any differently towards my newborn afterwards, but I will probably feel differently about myself and my ability to cope with pain.

The second idea goes back to the "side of the road on the way to the hospital" scenario. I do worry about my ability to cope if a natural birth was ever forced upon me by circumstances. This will not be my last birth and even if all goes well this time, there's no guarantee that I might not be caught the next time without the crutch of an epidural. If I've done it once naturally, or at least prepared for it and then chosen to wimp out with an epidural, then I think the thought of such a situation will not fill me with dread.

I'm still reading, considering, and discussing my options with my husband and close friends. Whatever I decide, I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to do so. Some of my friends have needed C-sections and others have had frightening experiences where they feared for their baby's life. I realize it's a luxury to enjoy the choices of modern medicine and also a blessing that everything has always gone smoothly with my births.

What has your experience with birth been? Do you have strong feelings about the way you want give birth? How have you coped with unexpected situations in the delivery room? Do you think I'm a wimp for having epidurals (it's all right; I can take it!)? Or crazy for considering a natural birth? Will you think I'm especially wimpy if I prepare all I can for a natural birth and then opt for the epidural anyway?

Note: This post was written for my friend Rachel, an amazing mom to 5 naturally-delivered children and a labor and delivery nurse who writes about childbirth at The Beginning of Motherhood


Holli said...

Hello, I am lurker on your blog (found you from Light Refreshments Served) and enjoy reading about your family. I wanted to post a comment about birth - it's something I love and am very passionate about. I have had 4 children. My first, although I planned a natural birth, ended up in c-section. I have been blessed to have vaginal births with the next 3 - all natural. The first in a hospital and the last 2 at home. Natural birth is definitely something to prepare for. And is very empowering. It is very challenging but I love feeling the power of my body working with the baby to bring him or her into the world. It's pain with a purpose. Our Heavenly Father created our bodies to do this and we can do it, with great support and preparation. And it's amazing. I think it's awesome that you are considering it. I don't think you are a failure if you end up getting an epidural - while I think natural birth is awesome (and ultimately safer in most cases), I think women should feel good about their birth experience. And if they feel out of control or scared, that won't happen. Also, just another note - my water never breaks until I'm pushing. And that's actually a good thing - it makes the contractions easier to handle because of the cushioning it provides. So consider leaving your water intact and see if that makes the pain more durable. Good luck! I hope you have a wonderful experience whatever you decide to do.

Dina said...

I think Holli is right. Women should feel good about their birth experience and (after safety) that's the bottom line. I don't know why people care whether you had an epidural or not. Not having a lot of pain doesn't make you any less of a mother.

One thing that I believe does play into the decision is whether you have pitocin or not. Wanting to go through a "natural" delivery with an unnatural medicine making your uterus contract at who knows how many times harder doesn't make sense to me. I know because I've done it twice! What was that old man Dr. thinking? Pitocin gave me excruciating contractions that left me feeling walled up inside myself. I never could feel in control of the pain. I also had internal monitors with both of my first "natural" deliveries so I couldn't leave the bed. I felt like a trapped animal writhing in pain. I was exhausted and didn't really have any energy left to bond with my babies the first hour or so after they were born. My arms were shaking and all I could do was peep at them--not even hold them.

After talking to others it seems like it isn't as unmanageable if you aren't induced. You're free to let the labor intensify naturally, you can walk around, get into different positions, soak in a warm bath, etc.

My peri insisted that I get an epi with my twins (last delivery!) and I could just kiss that man. What a whole different experience for me! Talk about a spiritual, beautiful experience. I felt like I was really there, ready to greet them and be part of the wonder that is birth. I loved every minute of that experience. (Well, except for the part where Austin's heart rate dropped and I had to push him out with super speed.)

After that experience I actually felt angry that I had missed out on the births of my first 2 children. Why would my Dr have discouraged the epidural? Now that I knew how wonderful it could be I felt cheated.

Obviously everyone's own personal experience decided whether they are in the "natural" or "epidural" camp. I would definitely give it a go if you go into labor naturally and feel free to change your mind if you want. There's no right or wrong way, just the way that makes you happiest and safe. Good luck with your newest addition!

Natalie said...

I am honestly not firmly camped on either side, although I have had epidurals with each of my four. I love the calm feeling that comes after I get that epidural. I love that I can just calmly prepare my mind to meet my newest child. I know this may sound wimpy of me. I'm not a wimp. I know that of myself and I don't know that choosing to stick our a natural birth would really teach me more about myself than I already know. I KNOW I could get through it if I had to.

I too have considered a natural birth at various times during my pregnancies. I know it would be an awesome experience. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it if you do go natural this time. But I'd be just as excited to read about the birth if you have an epidural. =)

alligood said...

I have had very different birth scenarios with all my children. I had, like you, hopes of delivering my first baby naturally. That didn't happen. I had a Pitocin induction (2 weeks after my due date), leading to IV pain medication and an epidural. I have never felt such pain in my life. It was awful and I was never so grateful as I was when that doctor placed the epidural. With my 2nd birth, my water broke on it's own, I labored pretty much pain free most of the day and then progressed very very fast. I checked into the hospital at 7:45 and Will was born at 8:08! He was also born in the bathtub, an unplanned water birth, if you will. :-) Will's birth was such a phenomenal experience that I had hoped to go naturally with my twins. They had other ideas, though, and although I labored to 7 cm. with them, I ended up getting a c-section, as my baby A (Drew) was breech. With Jake (baby 5), I needed to be induced again and I was terrified because of my first experience. I opted for the epidural early on with him. Audrey was born without an epidural (although I did opt for a bit of IV pain medication at transition - it helped very much to just make me feel calm and not panic at that intense moment). She was born weighing 9.8 and I really feel proud of myself for birthing her naturally. The trick is to just take things as they come. I had in mind for my natural births that I might like to try avoiding an epidural. Then, I took each contraction as it came - trying hard to keep my body relaxed and focused very inward. I do not like anyone talking to me or rubbing me or anything during labor. I want to go to my 'special place' :-) In between contractions I feel fine. Ultimately, the births of each of my children has been sacred and amazing. I harbor no guilt over using an epidural or of having a Cesarean birth. Natural childbirth seems better for my particular body. I HATE how numb I am after the epidural. I can't walk around afterward and have problems from them - nothing serious, but enough to be irritating. When I have had natural births, I can walk around right away and feel amazing. I feel very 'present', like all my senses are heightened. The recovery, for me, was easiest with my two natural births. I had less bleeding and didn't feel as wiped out in the days afterward. It's just such a personal decision and I believe it's one that needs to be flexible depending on the circumstances of a particular birth.

Sandi said...

As you already know my births are not easy and they are not something I can control. For me it comes down to a healthy delivery, where Mom and Baby are alive and that meant c-section for me.

Of course I think it is amazing that you have had such an easy time with birthing. Just amazing.

I don't think you are a wimp, in fact I think it is probably why you are able to adore your child so much during and after their birth. I went through 19 hours of labor with Annie (without epidural). Looking back on it I wish I had either gone with an epidural or agreed to the c-section sooner. Annie's birthing process was so long and so hard that I ended up sleeping through most of her entire first day of life. :(

I am sure whatever choice you make it will be a wonderful, blessed day!

April J. said...

I have done the natural thing four of the six times. Three of those four were with pitocin as well. I also have fairly fast labors. 3.5 hours (which could be too long for some! :). The last time I was freaking out because the previous "natural-with pitocin" delivery resulted in a 10lb 5 oz kid! I, for the most part, am able to keep my head on straight and be reasonable. Towards the end of this birth I was unable to do so. Of course I didn't know she was so huge, she was built like a linebacker! Looking back I probably would have said give me the epidural, but I have no real reason to say I needed it. The labor was a little longer because the twins made a nice pent house suite so the next two kids never dropped and the doctors were trying to prevent an emergency c-section. The last one was the same but I thought I would "treat myself" to an epidural. Turns out it was a bad choice. It only worked on one side. They ended up giving too much meds so I was numb on one side and feeling everybit of back labor on the other side. My first epidural experience was perfect as I realize most are. If I had the chance to have a child again, I would probably go in with the same mentality. Fill out the paperwork and then wait until I can't take it anymore. All of my kids were born within 15 minutes of that point. What ever you decide I think your head needs to be clear, if pain can make you loose focus it will be more difficult to stick with it. I am not sure I feel that I am better for having done it naturally, but it is neat to say.

Good luck. I am sorta wishing number 7 was in my future but it isn't looking so good.

Jen said...

I had three natural births and then my last two have been c-section due to polyhydramnios and never dropping.

I am of a very pro-natural mindset. My mother is a doula and had 6 naturally and I guess I just figured I would always do it that way. My labors are long - the shortest was 10 hours and the longest 23 hours. Nearly all my babies are post term as well, so two of the three natural ones were induced with Pitocin. It's a real BEAR to have if you are going unmedicated, but it's possible.

My first three deliveries were so empowering. I wish every mother were able to feel that way. I think it changes you forever. With #4 as I labored and tried hard to avoid a section, I DID get an epidural as a last resort. We thought maybe my body would relax and the baby would start to lower? I HATED every minute. I labored with it for about 3 hours prior to the c-section and I was literally more miserable than I have ever been.

So many wires and tubes, no walking, no changing position without tons of help, no control at all. I love control! LOL

It was decided #5 was following the same pattern and she was a scheduled C-secion.

All in all, of course it's personal. I may add a caution. I love the flexibility of your thinking that you want to possibly try the 'wait-and-see' approach. I have assisted many women, and the only ones I have seen go completely natural have been determined from the outset to go that route. If you are deciding during labor, you will undoubtedly choose the epi. The mind is a powerful tool, and it served me well to say to myself "I am strong enough to do this". And then I could.

Best of luck! You are an amazing mom from what I read about you and I know the birth is a lasting part of a mother's experience! I know you will do what's best for you.

jaradoron said...

My first epidural was great and I would probably have had a c-section without it being 15 days overdue and having never dropped. But I could feel when to push and it wore off right away at the end. The next 3 epidurals took too strong and I felt nothing through the whole process. I get induced each time even for the twins, but my labors are fast and I only have to push 1 or 2 times, so I opted to go without the epi for #5 and it was so much better because I felt a part of the process which I really missed with the other 3. It was really only unbearable right before it was time to push and it only lasted a couple minutes for me. I pushed once and the pain was gone and I felt empowered. It was heaven to be able to feel my legs and get up after the birth since it takes hours for the epidurals to wear off. I opted to get the epi with my twins and as usual I felt nothing and I really missed being a part of the experience, but I didn't trust that my doctor would be able to deliver them vaginally without it and I didn't want to risk a c-section. Because my labors are fast once I get started and I only have to push once or twice, I much prefer going without the epi. The pain only lasts a little bit and then the recovery is great, plus I can feel a part of the birth and like I actually did something. The important thing though is having healthy babies. Good luck. It sounds like you'll have a great experience either way.

Our little family said...

I had our first two kids without an epidural, by choice. I think I had idealized the natural childbirth experience, and thought I was being so great and strong by not having an epidural. Now that I have a little more life experience, I absolutely do not think any less of women who have epidurals, and I don't think an epidural makes you less of a mother, or anything like that.

Just as we're all different, we all make different choices. The choices we have today are amazing, and I am very grateful for them. I'm grateful that women don't die after childbirth because of poor hygiene and I'm grateful that C-sections can often save lives when needed.

I think women need to do what feels right to them. I am a strong proponent of natural childbirth, but I did choose an epidural with our third child. As you know, it was a difficult pregnancy with a lot of unknowns. We didn't know how she would handle labor, and we knew a C-section was more likely with her than with the other two. I hated the epidural. It hurt going in, I didn't like feeling numb, like you, I have fast labors, and the epidural didn't even take effect until I was pushing, and I felt really sick and shaky afterward, and had to go see my baby in a wheelchair, because I couldn't stand up. (When I had our second, I was walking about 30 minutes later, and the nurses were all amazed.)

So, would I get an epidural again? No. Mostly because the epidural made me feel so sick (I'm very sensitive to anesthetics).

Labor is scary, at least for me, even though I took birthing classes and had a doula, and knew all the terms, it was still scary, but also amazing at the same time. So, educate yourself, pray about it, and do what you feel comfortable with.

Rachel said...

Christina-you've already heard plenty from me, but I thought I'd add a little bit about what I've seen on labor and delivery. #1) It's all very individual. Some women that have wanted epidurals were doing fantastic without them. Others who didn't want epidurals were having a hard time, but still appreciated the experience. 2) I have seen women who say it is the worst pain in their lives and others who say it was painless. 3)There is a lot that you learn about yourself in the process, but it is something that can be learned in various different ways.

In general, you need to ask yourself if you really want to work through the contractions, not just if you can. It is when women decide that they don't want to do it anymore, and give up working with it, that they experience the most pain. At least that's what I've seen.

I also wanted to address the issue of support. Yes, I think it is important, but I have also seen women do fantastic without it. For these women, I think it is more the father that is missing out as I feel like it is an opportunity for him to serve in a way that is completely different. But, there are other ways they can serve also:) I do know that sometimes, if they don't want to do the labor support role, they can do more of a guarding the birth place role. They can answer the questions from the nurses, make sure you aren't disturbed unless needed, pretty much make sure you are able to do what you need to do when working through contractions. I could see your husband doing fine with this.

Anyways, you know I love natural birth, but my main concern is that women are able to have a powerful, positive birth experience, no matter how they choose to do it.

rachel said...

This post has just made my anticipation of hearing news of your new baby grow! Not long to go now!! I'm getting excited for you Christina:)

Stacey said...

I completely understand your desire to try the natural route. I had my first four induced with epidurals. But after my fourth and having greater problems with my body's reaction to the epidural medication to the point of nearly having a C-section, I opted to have my last two naturally. I loved it. It was painful, and very intense, but I'm so glad I did it.

That being said, I went into it having spent months researching and I hired a doula. She was with me for both births and made all the difference in the world for me. If you choose to go natural, have another woman there that can help you through transition and pushing. The interesting thing to me though was how much closer I felt to my husband after those births. He was so much more involved and much more support for me simply because I needed him more.

Good luck with your decision and just remember no matter which side of the issue people are on, the most important thing is the result, a beautiful, healthy baby!

SusanB said...

I just had my 7th child less than 3 weeks ago and contemplated try for a natural birth. I accidently had my 5th child naturally (he just came too fast). After I reached 5 centimeters I asked for teh epidural and it took just right. I was in control and things sped right along. My greatest fear was that it would stall my labor. This was my 3rd VBAC and I did not want anyone to have an excuse to offer me a C-section again. I was actually afraid I would go into labor at home. It is a comforting feeling knowinng I "can" deliver naturally, having done it once, (he was my biggest too). Childbirth is pain. I take medication for other pain, why not for childbirth? Check out Ben's birth story on my blog. www.thelifeandtimesofsusanbetke.blogspot.com

Rebecca said...

Both of my births have been "natural", in part because I'm pretty freaked out by the idea of an epidural - the needle in the spine, not being able to move around, and a bit of an increased risk of c-section. Anyhow, the first time was really tough, but I felt so proud of myself for doing it, and so amazed to hold my daughter for the first time. I kind of felt like if I could get through that, then I really could handle almost anything. It was a fairly long labor (15 hours), but it slowly built up, taking a hot shower helped some, and there was a while right before transition that was kind of like "the eye of the storm". For some reason, contractions didn't hurt much during that time, and I could fully relax in between.

The second time was a much quicker labor, and since my babies were twins, they were both smaller than my firstborn. I was on such a natural high afterwards and couldn't believe I'd just had 2 babies!

Meradith said...

Wow I loved reading every single word of this post. Ok, well I don't have any extreme opinion at all about other women getting an epidural or not, and think it's a little weird when people do. It's fine to have a strong opinion about what you personally want, but it's weird when people think it should apply to everyone. I really feel like it's a highly personal decision and no one elses business, so it does surprise me that you had that stranger say what she did to you. I think it's a great idea for you to read up on it and mentally prepare yourself because you are so right, we never know if we will be left without the option. That's a scary thought to not have any preparation. Every woman and every birth experience is just so unique. My water broke at home but I wasn't having regular contractions at all when it happened. Within the hour though, I was at the hospital, on pitocin, and felt like a caged animal because of the pain. But I STILL was not dilating fast enough, even though the contractions were coming hard and regular, and they were afraid the epidural would slow me down. After 5 hours of contractions (I felt like I was losing my mind by this time) I told the nurse that if I didn't get one I'd be flinging myself from the window (We were on the top floor- very dramatic). So she checked me again and gleefully said, "Ok honey you are ready for one!" I'm not even sure thinking back how dilated I was at that point. Lucy didn't come for 5 more hours but the old Meradith was back and I truly enjoyed every minute of the experience after that. And the epi didn't slow me down at all, actually I progressed lots faster after. Everyone is different.

If you decide to go natural, I'm sure it will be a very empowering experience. I like the marathon comparison, and if it's something you've never tried I totally see why you're considering it! I think you are a champ already for preparing yourself for it! I do not agree at all about the idea that epidurals make you less of a woman or a wimp, I know there is that extreme out there for some. I think Father in Heaven inspires medical technology to lessen the pain of mankind- specifically WOMANKIND in this case. So, just like we have painful surgeries with anesthetic, I don't think the decision to have pain relief during the experience should be looked down on at all. But the whole "You're crazy if you go without one!" is way too extreme for me as well. Again, very personal and individual. So there, you go! There are my two cents!!

Either way you decide, you will have all my love and support!! Yay yay for another baby girl!!

PS I haven't seen you in a long time! I think we've alternated times out of town (your kitties always let me know when you're gone:). I'm sorry I missed the Thanksgiving Point museum, we were in AZ and I was so bummed not to be there. Anyway, I miss your face!

Meradith said...

Ok so I know childbirth is much more of a natural process than painful surgery, and our bodies were made to give birth... I don't view having a baby the same as having a limb amputated or anything so I just wanted to clear that up. :) I'm just saying there are a lot of ways medicine has relieved the pain of natural and unnatural processes we face in these mortal bodies of ours and I'm thankful to live in this day and age. Ok really there's my two cents! I'll stop blabbering now haha!

Lisa6Kids said...

My epidural free births were my BEST birth experiences. I mourn what I lost in my other births knowing what I know now. There is a sort of high that comes with natural birth and it takes weeks to come down from it.

Lisa6Kids said...

It's funny after reading all the way through how very very similar our birth experiences are. I also have really fast labors after my water breaks and I have super tough bags of water! In fact the only time I have felt my water break is with my last baby and that was because I labored almost completely at home. My water broke in our Jeep 1/2 mile from the hospital and I was SO nervous she would be born in the car, I had even brought supplies for an auto birth. LOL

I think the reason I would urge you to try natural birth again is that the first birth is So very different from subsequent births. You might be surprised at what you can tolerate. Especially if you can avoid pitocin. I have had a natural birth with pit and without and let me tell you, natural with no pit is SO much easier and way less painful.
Maybe watch some natural birth videos on youtube. It rally helped me make the decision to try it and I have never regretted it. If your births happen fairly quickly you will still be very alert after the baby is born.

I don't think you are a wimp, I think you just don't know what to expect and that fear is bigger than anything else.

In any case, I can't wait to hear your story this time around and see pictures of your beautiful little one.

Heatherlady said...

What a beautiful and well rounded post. I think you have a beautiful perspective and I am excited for you that you are considering a natural birth. My biggest suggestion though if you really want to try to have the natural birth is to have a doula (a professional birth attendant) they really make such a HUGE difference. An epidural is only one "tool" and doulas know hundreds of other "tools" to help with labor that work just, if not better than medicines. It is REALLY REALLY possible to have an incredibly peaceful birth without medications. The peace just comes from deeper with your self... deeper than you can even really imagine unless you've been through it. What do the scriptures say "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear". If you want it you can so do it... and what a great heritage of strength, courage and faith in your body to pass on to all those beautiful daughters of yours!

Oh and also I was going to ask you if you might consider submitting this post (in a more formal updated way) for a book that I am working on with several other LDS women about the spirituality of birth. We are collecting birth stories from women who have spiritual insights about their births and I think what you shared in this post would fit wonderfully for the book. You can see more about the book at http://thegiftofgivinglife.blogspot.com/

Best wishes!


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