The Story Part 3: My First Labor
Labor. We all think about it so much during pregnancy- especially the first one. Will I be induced or will it happen on its own? Will my water break? How long will it take? But the biggest question for me: Will it hurt? That was my biggest hang up. I was really scared of the pain. Having said all of that, I will say that I have given birth three times. Once with an epidural. Twice without. So, I wanted to share my experiences for all of you mamas wrestling with the same questions I did. Because one of the most helpful things for me when I was getting ready for labor was to hear other women’s stories. Every story was so different BUT the common theme was that they all ended with the mother holding the baby that she had been growing for the past nine months. What a miracle.
This is part 1: labor with the epidural.
I feel like I need to start out by saying that in my head, even in my first pregnancy, I wanted to have unmedicated childbirth. I can’t even really tell you why. I think I just liked the idea of it. But, as I mentioned before, I was scared of how bad it would hurt. So ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I would “play it by ear,” and, if I felt like I needed an epidural, I would get one. The last sentence I wrote literally makes me laugh out loud because as I now know, natural childbirth is not something you can “play by ear”. You need to be committed, and I definitely was not.
Bethany (our first) was due February 18, which was a Saturday. But Saturday came and went, and she had apparently decided that she was pretty comfortable where she was. I decided to be induced the following Wednesday, but we checked into the hospital on Tuesday night so that I could get started on Cervidil. The plan was my OB would break my water in the morning and I would get started on Pitocin and have a baby by the afternoon. I had researched a little about what labor would be like, but I was mostly ignorant.* The one thing I do remember reading was that labor pain was unlike other pain in that you got breaks between contractions. But there needed to be a giant asterisk by that saying “UNLESS YOU GET ON PITOCIN WHICH MAKES CONTRACTIONS HARDER AND LONGER AND CLOSER TOGETHER.” You live and you learn. I think I lasted an hour after they broke my water before I looked at Robert and told him I wanted an epidural like 15 minutes ago. But this meant I also had to face another very deep fear: needles. And going into my spine for that matter. But I was hurting so badly, and because I didn’t really have a deep understanding of what labor was and how my body was working, I was scared. I didn’t really know what was happening. I was nervous about pushing. And even though I was also really scared of needles, the pros outweighed the cons in that moment, and I went with it. The anesthesiologist was in the room pretty quickly. And honestly, it was not bad at all. I never even saw the needle. I don’t even remember it hurting. So, for all of you needle-fearing gals- you can totally do it.
I can’t even explain the relief I felt. And it was almost immediate. The total atmosphere of the delivery room changed. I relaxed. I felt more in control. I wanted to see people! My family came back and we got to laugh and hug while my cervix dilated completely pain free. Amazing. The nurse came in and told me when I felt pressure to call her and that probably meant it was time to push. Easy peasy. Before I knew it, it was go time! My OB came in, I got a crash course on pushing a baby out, and we were off! With an epidural I really enjoyed pushing. At one point I even remember looking at Robert and saying, “This is so much fun!” I probably pushed for 30-45 minutes, and then she was here! They laid her on my chest and it was the most amazing moment of my life.
Labor with an epidural was great. “So why, then,” you may ask, “did you choose to give birth unmedicated?” I can’t wait to talk about it on my next blog post. Cheers, Mamas!
*I have a lot of thoughts on this but I will keep it short. I have ultimately come to the conclusion that it is better to be informed. To me, it just makes it less scary/intimidating when you can actually understand what the nurses/doctors are talking about. And when you are informed you are more empowered to come alongside them in decision making for labor and delivery. I went into my first birth with a lot of fear because I was so uninformed, which I have some regrets about. But I will say I did have a friend once tell me that she was so glad she didn’t know anything about labor going into it, so obviously this isn’t black and white.