In the midst of all of this physical exhaustion, I remembered that I am going to have to give birth to a human in just under two months, give or take. I took a few long, hot baths to think this over, and I realized that I am not looking forward to that experience even a little. Not at all. I want to be geared up for labor, but honestly, I would rather the doctors drug me up when I walk in and wake me up when there’s a baby to hold.
When I was nearing the last trimester of my pregnancy with Cara, I decided that I wanted to give the unmedicated birth a good try. I didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself that might lead to disappointment if things didn’t work out that way, but I wanted to do whatever would lead to the quickest recovery, and based on what I read, a birth with as few medical interventions as possible seemed like the way to go.
Then I never went into labor, so I was faced with induction 8 days after my due date. Pitocin is the worst thing ever. After about three hours of mild contractions, my doctor broke my water and upped the meds, and life began to suck. Pitocin contractions are incredibly intense and painful (not that I believe natural contractions aren’t intense, but from what I have heard, Pitocin makes things that much worse), and after much crying, I ended up with Nubain. Again, Nubain is the worst thing ever. It didn’t take away any pain, but it messed with my head to that point that I draw a blank on about four hours of labor. PJ doesn’t seem to want to give up a lot of details about that time, but he will say that it was obvious that I was still in lots and lots of pain.
I ended up getting an epidural, and as the anesthesiologist was pulling the needle or whatever out of my back, he said something (I still can’t remember exactly what) that lead me to believe that things didn’t go perfectly back there. They didn’t leave the epidural in my back, but fortunately, Cara was born about 30 minutes later. I stayed numb just long enough for a few stitches, and I remember regaining feeling in my legs pretty quickly.
I wouldn’t say that I had a particularly bad experience; everyone at the hospital was incredibly kind and compassionate, especially my nurse. However, because my OB practice doesn’t guarantee a certain doctor at delivery, my doctor that day had no idea that I wanted to try for an unmedicated birth. I spoke with a different doctor at one of my appointments about this, and I assumed something was written in my chart about it, but you know how that goes. I didn’t make a big deal about it, but I should have been a little more vocal about what I wanted.
I can’t help but think that had I avoided the Pitocin, I might have also avoided the epidural. I’m sure the epidural helped calm me during labor and it definitely took away the pain, but the problem with my epidural was that I ended up with a two-week spinal headache, which is just as bad or worse than any migraine I’ve ever had.
Headache on top of recovering from labor on top of learning to breastfeed on top of brand-new-baby on top of no more sleep. Yikes.
This is one of the last things I want to experience again. I feel confident that I could do this without pain meds if I can manage to go into labor on my own, but I am not at all confident that I will go into labor on my own. I am afraid of the Pitocin, but I am afraid of the epidural, so I guess what I am really afraid of is induction.
I’m sure my attitude about the whole thing is my biggest obstacle right now. I wish I had more natural confidence about labor, but I have promised this little one that I won’t demand to be drugged as soon as I walk into the hospital. I pulled out my Ina May Gaskin book to reread some encouraging birth stories and remember that my body will do what it’s supposed to do, that God designed women’s bodies to grow and birth and nourish babies. I also got a prenatal yoga DVD to help me learn to focus, listen to my body, and gain some strength. So far, so good. I can do this...again.