I just read this article entitled Get the Epidural and honestly, I couldn't agree more. The fact is, I should have gotten the epidural, plain and simple. I'm no hero, I just thought that maybe I should be one. For roughly the first four hours.
Nothing can prepare you for the pain of labour and delivery just like nothing can prepare you for having children. If someone asked you if you would like pain relief for an unknown quantity and duration of pain that will undoubtedly be coming to greet you almost a year down the line, you would say, YES PLEASE! You wouldn't think twice. But this article brings up a good point - that self-sacrifice and ideas about what's "best" for baby permeate the consciousness and unconsciousness of mamas even before the baby arrives. And like all things that are unquestionably "best for baby," this one is not so great for mama.
My birth experience was traumatic. There, I said it. Hi, my name is Jackie and I had a traumatic birth experience. Why I did had everything to do with what I thought I wanted without knowing a fig about what the experience was going to be like. I didn't know what I wanted except that I wanted the baby to come out with the least possible injury to myself and the baby. My birth plan was simple: The baby exits my body. But I ended up buying into a lot of crap that was partially figments of my own imagination, too much reading of new-agey birthing books from my midwifery clinic, and 110% naivete. I was a superwoman who, because I had survived open-heart surgery at three years old, and a car accident, and more surgeries than I like to count, could give birth without flinching. Trouble is, I flinched. Cause it hurt. A LOT.
Some people who live glorious lives and fart rainbows talk about giving birth as an experience in "heavy period cramps" or some such nonsense. Some simply say "it hurts." The reality is, like everything related to pregnancy, birth, and childrearing, giving birth is a very personal and unique experience for every woman. I do not disbelieve the women that say it it like bad period cramps. I just hate those b*tches.
I decided to have a home birth against the advice of pretty much everyone I know. I knew no one would really be super gung ho so I hid it like a dirty secret so that I wouldn't have to face what I perceived would be the judgment of anyone I told. In actuality, given that a lot of these people had had children, the fact that they didn't slap me and/or stop talking to me given my pure stupidity is miraculous. So, I guess I'm a lucky bitch in some ways too.
This post isn't about not having a home birth, it's about being realistic. When I was four hours into labour and my daughter wasn't budging (not to brag, but I'm apparently pretty comfy on the inside) but my midwife insisted that she was very close over and over again until I looked at her with pure disbelief and exhaustion, I was in so much pain that I asked to go to the hospital. It is not a good time to lose faith in midwifery when your baby is stuck in your birth canal. In any case, upon arrival at the hospital, I felt so much relief at being there. I was somewhere familiar - somewhere where I know how to be when I'm in a lot of pain. I just wish I recognized this sooner, before I felt unsafe at home and had to advocate for going to the hospital because I knew the baby wasn't coming on her own.
I laboured for another four hours with no pain relief except the occasional snort of nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas, which did not even make me smile, let alone giggle. I wanted pain medication but at this point, it was too late. I was too close and there was someone screaming down the hall who was having premature twins or some other calamity that just made me think, in my fog of labour, I hear you sister, this shit sucks a**. After eight full hours of labouring without meds, I had my daughter vacuumed from my body by a doctor who didn't make it a secret that she thought midwives were basically witches who duped unsuspecting pregnant women into natural births that hurt like a sonofabitch. I distinctly recall her saying that I would win no prize for the natural birth and in that moment, I knew she was right.
Being in labour was like having a freight train trying to exit your body in these unbelievable painful waves of contracting and spasming muscles. It's like no pain I have ever experienced. Again, this isn't supposed to be a horrifying woe-is-me tale, but I do hope that women who are on the fence about an epidural really consider one because I can honestly say that without so much pain, my labour and delivery would have been a whole lot less traumatic.
All I know is that the day after I gave birth to Aya, I said I'd bring my heroin if I had another baby. Since I'm not having another baby, I want to give other mamas this advice: Just get the epidural so you don't have to figure out where to get heroin and possibly do a stint in jail post-delivery.
Although, at least you'd probably get some shut eye in in jail so shoot for a six month minimum sentence.