I’m the proud mama of five girls. I’m the youngest of seven kids, and I’ve always wanted to have a big family of my own.
I’ve also always known that I wanted to get an epidural when the time came. Modern medicine has grown in leaps and bounds when it comes to pain management during delivery. I had absolutely no problem taking advantage of those advancements. I also agree that you don’t get an award for going natural.
My record with epidurals was 2-2.
With my first baby, I got my epidural at 3cm, and I ended up with a hot spot (an area that doesn’t go numb) that left me sobbing in pain. Then, I started gaining feeling back around 8 cm and felt more than I ever wanted to- burning, splitting pain that left me sore for weeks.
With my second and third babies, I decided wait a little longer and really see what kind of pain I could handle…What kind of sick game was I playing? I made it to 5 and 6cm before I tapped out. Thankfully, both epidurals worked beautifully, and I felt next to nothing with either birth. I looked at the anesthesiologist like he was a prince on a white horse.
Then came my fourth baby- I made it to a good 7cm before I asked for my epidural. When the anesthesiologist got to my room, I was shaking in pain, and desperately trying to remember my techniques from my Lamaze class 8 years prior. I blame myself for this. Why didn’t I ask for it sooner?
I was losing at my own game.
After the epidural, contraction after contraction hit and I was not feeling any relief. Something I didn’t realize at the time was that you can go from 7 to complete and ready to push in no time at all.
Especially if you’ve had a few babies already.
I wasn’t feeling any relief because my baby was right there. My anesthesiologist gave me everything he could to help the pain, but there was no helping this. It was time to push, whether I was ready or not.
And I felt it all.
I grabbed the side rails of my bed and nearly ripped them off. I didn’t care who was in the room, I didn’t care if they were ready, nothing mattered but getting that baby out of my body. I was out of my mind in pain. I pushed just in time for my OB to come in and catch baby girl #4 at the last second, while my anesthesiologist was still in the room.
Then, the epidural kicked in. I was numb for hours after.
I was mad. And not at anyone but myself.
I spent months thinking about that delivery. What I could have done differently, and why didn’t I ask for my epidural sooner (like right after my doctor broke my water?!) …. but mostly, I kept thinking “Had I only been prepared, I could have handled that pain. I know I could have.” I was disappointed in myself for losing control. I normally have iron clad willpower. When I set my mind to something, consider it done. I felt like this one got away from me.
Luckily, I’d have the opportunity to rectify this issue in my mind when just a year later we found out we were expecting baby number five.
I knew this delivery would go differently. I wanted to prove to myself that I could mentally prepare and give birth med free, without losing it this time.
I learned a few things between babies #4 and #5
The first was just that: this was baby #5. While it would still be incredibly painful and intense, delivery would certainly be easier than if this were my first or second baby.
The second was that I had to be okay with however my delivery went. Working in L&D, I am very familiar with seeing patient’s birth plans fly out the window, while they get rushed back for a section that they never dreamed would happen. I knew that should my baby crash during labor, I wouldn’t be awake for the delivery. It would mean
lights out for me general anesthesia, because there is no time for an epidural when your baby’s heart rate is plummeting.
I also knew that my chances of going natural were greater if I went into labor on my own, and waited for my water to break on its own. Barring any unforeseen medical issues arising, that was my plan.
I had one goal: healthy baby, healthy me. No matter what route or how off track things went.
I started out preparing myself by reading a Hypnobirthing book.
Don’t knock it until you try it.
It has nothing to do with being hypnotized, and everything to do with mentally preparing yourself for birth. It is eye opening and empowering.
I was excited about giving my body a chance to do something it was created specifically to do: give birth.
Of course the baby scared the mess out of us by flipping to breech then transverse then breech again, and then finally settling in head down all between 36 and 39 weeks.
Then, the night of my due date, as I laid down to go to bed, I had a monster contraction. It was like my body shifted gears. I knew this was it.
The contractions got significantly more intense and closer together. We headed to the hospital. When I got there at midnight, I was 4 cm dilated. I spent most of my labor bouncing on my birthing ball next to my hospital bed with my husband next to me, laughing between contractions with my nurse, who has also been a friend of mine for almost ten years.
Every wave of pain that I felt had a purpose. I moved and swayed and changed my position to help the baby come down. I felt my contractions change and intensify with the stages of labor, I felt my baby make her way down.
Can’t lie. Hypnobirthing or not, it hurt. The pain was intense and deep and blinding.
But the techniques I learned were paramount in me keeping myself together.
I went from 5cm to complete in under an hour.
Baby girl #5 was born at 3:00am (about two minutes after my doctor ruptured my membranes) with my husband next to me, and with my co-workers that felt more like family to catch her. She weighed 8 lbs 13 ounces.
And although I may have dropped a few curse word bombs, grunted like a caveman, then begged for pain meds right after, I did it.
Overall, her entire birth was amazing. My recovery was light years easier, I was up and walking in no time. I wasn’t nearly as sore, and my labor was significantly shorter- just under 5 hours from that first contraction (also partially attributed to this being my fifth baby).
So, what’s the verdict? Would I go natural again?
My only regret was that I didn’t give myself enough credit for my other deliveries. I was capable and strong enough all along. Natural child birth is as much mental as it is physical. Women are powerhouses, literally creating, growing and giving birth to life.
So, get an epidural if you want one! Enjoy the sweet relief! My two working epidurals made those deliveries everything I wanted and more!
But if you are thinking of going natural, I’m here to tell you: You can do it.
If you prepare yourself, you will be amazed by your body, and how incredibly strong you really are.