Wednesday morning at 4am, I knew I was headed toward labor. I had experienced Braxton Hicks for the past few months and these contractions were different. I spent the next 24 hours resting, eating, drinking water, and trying to stretch and put heat on my back to ease the pain. By Thursday morning at 4am, my contractions were 3 minutes apart. The doctor gave the okay to check-in at the hospital and we began what was going to be a long 12 hours.
I had a plan, and that plan was: no drugs. I had gathered information, opinions, and advice from some really awesome women and I was ready to battle it out all-natural. At least, that’s what I thought.
We walked for a few hours around the hospital, trying to speed up the process, but without any luck. After five hours of waiting, the doctor wanted to check me one last time before sending me home. That is when she accidentally broke my water. I was immediately admitted, and immediately started experiencing incredible pain with each contraction.
They got stronger every time. One contraction would end, I would let out a breath, and another one would start. After several hours of back labor (even though Gabe was perfectly in position), I decided my plan of a completely natural delivery was not going to be what happened. I was only five centimeters dilated. I was out of energy. I couldn’t relax. Everything in the room was blurry. I couldn’t give any more and I was only halfway there. I asked for an epidural, and they encouraged me along instead. Finally, I begged my husband again to please give me the medication. He looked me in the eye and said, “you can do it Danielle. You’re doing so well!” And I looked him in the eye, swung the best punch a woman in labor can and said, “GIVE ME the f***ing epidural!” His eyes got really big, he picked up the room phone, called the nurse and said, “she wants the epidural (brief pause)…OH YEAH, I’m sure.”
Once they administered the anesthesia, my body relaxed, and I got the first sleep I’d had in nearly 48 hours before Gabe made his entrance. While my husband actually (though jokingly) verbally expressed his disappointment in what he called an “anti-climactic” post-epidural delivery, we didn’t regret the change in plan. As I was looking at my son from across the room, the nurse turned to me and said, “are you disappointed that you didn’t go natural.” I remember thinking that was a crazy thing to ask as I said, “No way!” I didn’t feel bad about myself for taking the meds. But then I remember thinking, “but now I’m going to have to admit to people that I didn’t go natural as planned.”
I was more than fine with the decision, but I was worried that others might see me as weak. It wasn’t until several days later that I realized it was a ridiculous thing to be concerned about. It was my decision, and my child, it didn’t matter what decisions other women had made, and that was okay.
Here’s the cold, hard truth about epidurals, no matter which side you take: There should be no sides. Yes there are advantages to going all natural, but there are also advantages to getting an epidural. Do I believe that any woman can go natural? Yes, they were doing it long before anesthesia. But do they? No. Does it mean that women who go natural are somehow better than women who don’t. Definitely no. So don’t feel bad for changing your plans or going with the flow, it’s not the end of the world.
When it comes down to it, delivery is such an incredibly small part of your child’s life, literally hours. Don’t make yourself feel bad if it doesn’t go the way you had planned. And don’t be afraid to admit it, it is part of the story of the birth of your child and you should not let anyone make you feel ashamed. After all, you carried that baby for nine months. You sacrificed not only physical things, but your own body for the sake of your child. You endured the morning sickness, the nausea, the extra weight, the back pain, gagging when you brushed your teeth, aversions to your favorite foods, cravings for your least favorite foods, crazy hormones, insomnia, and all of the other symptoms – which is pretty much everything you may experience while pregnant. Not to mention the fact that you still have to push that child out of you. And no matter how much they drug you, you still have to deal with the pain when it wears off and the recovery and the healing process – which brings a whole new set of hormones. Then guess what? You’ve got 18+ years of motherhood, which I’ve heard while rewarding, is also the toughest job on the planet.
Even though I got an epidural – I pushed a 10lb. 2oz. baby out of me in 45 minutes flat while carrying on a conversation about the occupation of my nurses’ spouse and our college careers – hence my husbands “anti-climactic” title to the delivery. I’m a champ, and so are you, whether you go natural or not. There will be some things some women will do that you won’t. But there will also be things that you will do that other moms won’t. No two children, pregnancies, births, or moms are alike. Don’t feel like you have to fit a mold and don’t feel like you are any less of a woman for taking help. You’re the bomb no matter what – cause you’re a mom. You can change a diaper while talking on the phone, folding laundry, missing your TV show, catching puke before it hits the floor (or your shirt), and making the bed, all before lunch. And if it’s too much, it’s okay to ask for help then too.
There is no better lesson in learning to go with the flow and changing your plans than having kids.