Many people asked me during the pregnancy whether or not I was going to get an epidural with this birth. I had a great experience last time going without one. After Katie's birth, I wrote:
As I faced the decision this time, I felt undecided. Both an epidural and an unmedicated birth have advantages and I didn't feel strongly about it either way. However, one of the first things my husband asked me after I told him we were expecting again was, "You're going to get an epidural this time, right?" Since he had a preference and I really didn't, I figured the decision was made. That didn't keep me from teasing him about it along the way, though, including telling him I'd decided to do a home birth and invite all our children to watch and participate (no offense if that's what YOU want at your birth, but it's not for me).
Would I birth this way again? Actually, I'm undecided. This birth was definitely different than my others, but I don't feel I missed out on anything with my epidural births. I don't regret a minute of them, just as I don't regret anything about this birth. I didn't feel that the experience without the epidural was more meaningful in a spiritual or emotional way. There is a wonderful physical satisfaction I feel from doing something hard, from finding the courage inside myself to face the pain and conquer it, but I won't feel a bit disappointed if I decide to get an epidural next time. In fact, to avoid that last thirty minutes and especially that excruciating ring of fire, I think it is probably worth the few hours of numbness after the birth -- and I had a quick, relatively easy delivery, with 2 hours of mild labor, 2 hours of fairly difficult pains, then 2 hours of intensity! I don't know how women do it who have to push for a long time or who labor for endless hours. I feel a great awe at what generations of women have done to bring children into the world, with none of the pain relief available today.
But on to the exciting (and rather short and uneventful) birth story . . .
My due date was Friday, February 17th, but we chose Tuesday the 14th to be induced. I figured as long as this little girl is going to have to share birthday and Valentines gifts her entire life anyway, she might as well get the bragging rights of the actual date. Besides that, it was a convenient day for our family.
We were called into the hospital at 6 in the morning. DH took me over and helped me get admitted and settled, then went home to help get the kids off to school. Lillian stayed home from school to watch the little girls for us, since Katie does not do well with being left.
A little after 7, the nurses got the IV in (I hate that part) and started a low dose of pitocin. They increased the dose every thirty minutes depending on how things go. For the first hour, I had mild contractions about every ten to fifteen minutes. At 8:11, my doctor arrived to break my water and then things started happening. The contractions got harder and started coming every five minutes, then every three minutes. DH came back around 8:30. By 9:00, I decided I better ask for the epidural soon or it might be too late. My favorite anesthesiologist, Dr. L., was there. He's done 6 of my 7 epidurals now, and he does great work. My doctor has even scheduled her own deliveries around when he's on call; he's THAT good.
The contractions were pretty tough as I waited for the epidural to take effect, and things happened so quickly that I still felt a lot of the pain and intensity, though the epidural was enough to take the edge off and make it bearable. At 9:30, I was 6 cm and then at 9:45, I was complete and ready to push. We waited for my doctor to arrive. She did just after 10:00, and after pushing through four contractions (Cami's head was turned to the side, which made it a little longer), Camilla was born at 10:09. I had a slight tear at delivery, but otherwise, things went perfectly. Cami nursed well for me and I felt great. DH went home to take care of the kids and I enjoyed an hour or so with Cami before we went to the recovery room on the fourth floor.
As I held Camilla and marveled over the miracle of her little body and amazing spirit, I could almost picture the years ahead with her. I could see her growing up and felt that our relationship will be strong and our bond of friendship great. I could picture her as a teenager with a vivacious personality. I'm sure she's thrilled to be here and to the youngest of seven sisters and two brothers. What a great place to have in life.