I've had a few people recently ask me about what kind of labor and deliveries I've had, and when I tell them I've had 3 epidural deliveries and 3 natural births, they want to know if I chose those types of births, and which I preferred. So this is my story, and mine alone. Every mother and every baby and every labor story is unique. Even when we are prepared and pray and hope for a birth to go a certain way, we can't control the outcome. This is not any sort of parenting advice.
THIS, however, is parenting advice:
And like a broken bag of water, let's get this party started...
When I was pregnant with my fist baby, I wanted to have a natural drug-free labor with a midwife. What actually happened is that I was induced 5 weeks early to have my gallbladder taken out immediately after his birth, and ended up in lots of pain from the gallstones and pitocin drip. I begged for the epidural at transition, received it and was declared 8 cm. It was a pain-free delivery with a healthy baby, but I still felt let down that I got the epidural.
With the second baby, I again wanted to go drug-free with a midwife, feeling that I didn’t get the birth experience I had hoped for the first time around. Again, I cried for drugs at transition, got the epidural and was declared 9 cm. Again, I experienced a feeling of disapointment after delivery, which made me then feel guilty for not being completely thankful and happy that I was holding my son. Those pregnancy and postpartum hormones are a tricky thing!
Having now two births under my belt where I wasn't able to make it without the epidural, I decided for the third baby that I would just stop fooling myself and planned early on that I would get the epidural. I had a doctor this time, since I knew I wanted pain meds, and got it at 3 cm. It was heavenly for a while, but then I had a bad reaction to it (my heart rate dropped, I felt like I was passing out, the baby’s heart rate dropped and the anesthesiologist was frantically called back in to administer drugs to counter the effects.) It was very very scary, and when it was all over, I really wanted to try not to get the epidural again.
When I got pregnant with my 4th baby, I started researching different midwives, and discovered our area had a hidden gem of a midwife who passionately believed in unmedicated births and did everything to empower the mother to get through it. The other midwives I had used where totally okay with giving drugs, and I knew myself…if I had the option of drugs, I would ask for drugs. I am so vulnerable, weak, and in pain at transition that any kind of relief is requested. Anyway, with the fresh epidural scare on my mind, I started seeing the midwife who really made me feel like I could do this. Maybe I could make it through a birth without medication, once and for all. Choosing to try for a natural birth is more mental than physical. Obviously our bodies can get through the pain physically…women do it all the time. It’s mentally accepting the process and being strong and a willing participant that are difficult (for me, anyways).
The time came to deliver the fourth baby, and I was able to have my best labor and delivery ever – she came out super-fast, in the Jacuzzi (whoops!), and I felt on top of the whole world after. It was such an awesome experience and changed my life after that, I really felt that I could do anything, and eventually trained for my first half-marathon. I don't want to make any mom feel bad for not wanting to/being able to have a natural birth, but the feelings after accomplishing it are mind-blowing.
Once pregnant with the fifth, a medicated labor wasn’t even an option in my mind. I was determined to try once again for a natural birth. I was lucky enough to make it happen, though due to the baby’s size, how fast the labor went, and the fact that we were stuck in the hospital for 5 days while he was under the lights made it much more traumatic for me than the first time. I definitely felt like I never wanted to go through that again after he was born. I know that’s completely dramatic and ungrateful, but its how I felt. Again, hormones be stupid.
Wouldn’t you know it, the sixth baby came a few years later, and I was torn during the whole entire pregnancy. Should I go through a painful but empowering natural birth or a pain-free but possibly scary epidural birth? I wrestled with my decision, cried a lot to Phil who was super supportive in whatever I decided. It was a decision that had to be made before the due date because my midwife doesn't allow for epidurals, so if that was the route I chose, I had to switch providers. I finally decided that since I was due to give birth during Lent that year, I would try to have a natural birth as my Lenten sacrifice. For some reason, this made sense in my pregnant brain. I was still very scared to go through the process again, and after having dealt with anxiety in between the births of the 5th and 6th babies, asked my midwife to agree to give me anti-anxiety meds in labor. She was completely understanding, and agreed to give them if I needed.
Turns out that I didn’t need them. The 6th baby was born naturally, and it was much less traumatic than the 5th baby’s labor. It was more peaceful and didn’t hurt quite as badly. Maybe it was because of his slightly smaller size, or that I was physically active through the pregnancy, or God's graces, or my worrying for the worst case scenario made the reality less scary. I don't know, but I was so very thankful after his birth that I was able to go naturally, as I always feel amazing after.
Plus, maybe this is just in my experience, but it seems that our babies who are born without any pain meds are really easy babies. That could be a total coincidence, but it held true in our family's experience.
|Drug free and easy as can be.|
If there is ever to be another baby blessed unto us, I think I will lean towards trying for a natural labor again. Although, the more times you go through it, the more you know what it’s like, and that can be a scary thing! I’m sure I will struggle with what choice to make, and every labor and every baby is so different that as much as we try and plan, Lord knows how it will actually turn out! I learned that lesson very early on, and I'm still learning how to be grateful for whatever situation comes my way. Much like a pregnancy, I'm a work in progress :)