Saturday, May 10, 2008

Congratulations, you gave birth without drugs. WIMP!

It's inevitable. When a woman is narrating her childbirth story the issue will arise. Did she or did she not have an epidural? Often, those that opted out of the pain-free version declare this with self-importance - that somehow they did it "better" than the person who "gave in" and got the drugs.

Personally, I've done it both ways and I'm here to tell the world that getting an epidural is worse than natural childbirth. Seriously.

When I was pregnant for the first time, knowing that I have a low tolerance for pain, I decided from the start that I would get an epidural. When the time came and I was sufficiently dilated, I was excited for the magic that would take the labor pains away. That's when the anesthesiologist snuck behind my back and pulled out a needle the size of a fencer's foil but about twice as thick. I was already preoccupied with contractions that were 90 seconds apart, so this just seemed like adding injury to injury. She thrust home the sword-like needle with the skill of a triumphant jouster. Now I know how bugs feel when they get pinned to a display board.

When I was pregnant with my second child, my strategy was to ask for an epidural when the labor pain got worse than the pain of getting an epidural. You know what? It never happened. I've chickened out of an epidural every time after that. So I salute all you mothers who had the courage to stare, unflinchingly, down the length of the needle of horror and said, "yes". "Yes, for the sake of my husband's hand and all those within earshot of my screams, I will take the epidural." You are truly amazing.


Ambie said...

I suppose everyones level of pain tolerance differs. I have even heard of women who have one big pain, out comes the baby and since my dear friend is one of those whos babies seem to just fall out, I wonder if she realizes what several several hours of hard labor can do to a person. All of my labors are 5+ hours and I enjoyed my epidurals every single time.... and I don't care if I'm going to hell for it.

Aimee said...

Too funny, Ray! Since I haven't been fortunate enough to go through the childbirth experience yet, I think I'll also be opting for the epidural as well... otherwise, I doubt I'll be conscious for it! (Remember that problem I had in HS?? Still have it, except now, I can pass out when I have a brain freeze from eating something cold. Yep, I'm talented like that!)

Tim said...

We took natural child birthing classes when Jo was expecting Kristen. I convinced Jo that it could be a neat experience, and oh yeah, we didn't have insurance and an epidural costs $1,000. So for the first several hours of labor, I'm breathing with Jo and being as supportive as possible (and keeping her mind off of the $1,000 option...). In walks in the nurse, see Jo struggling, and asks, "do you want an epidural?" Man, I wish I could have transfered Jo's pain to this stupid nurse!! So I start to chime in, "'am, we're trying this naturally. You see..." She snaps at me mid sentence, "It's not your call!" So, Jo gets an epidural, and 30 minutes later before the thing can really kick in, out came Kristen.

ray said...

all these brave, brave women. Honestly, the thought of the epidural needle gives me the heebie jeebies. Tim, that is SO funny. I think nurses like to push epidurals so that babies aren't born to the sound of their moms cussing at their dads.

Okay, I do have short labors but they do the same amount of work as everybody else. It's not like you dilate to 20, Ambie. I just have more efficient contractions. And my babies heads are WAY bigger than yours. Maybe I should dilate to 20...

Good luck, Aimee, in your reproductive endeavors. I forgot about that secret hobby of yours. I don't share that particular talent, but seeing the epidural needle sure inspires me in that direction. *shudder*

imme said...

Let's not forget the fact that epidurals do come with risks to both the mother and the baby. I don't think women think about that enough when they make the hasty decision that they "need" an epidural.

With my first baby, when I finally gave in to having an epidural, this is what happened. The epidural interferred with the natural progression of my labor, so they unnaturally gave me petossin to speed things up. Then the baby reacted badly to the petossin, all the alarms and bells went off and a crowd of nurses came rushing into the room. They slapped an oxygen mask on my face, stopped the IV and put an internal baby monitor into the baby's scalp. All that to add to the, no joking, eight other monitors and tubes and wires hooked up to me. So I laid there, unable to move myself, with some retarded computer telling me that I was having a contractions, and was a strong one at that! I decided that this was not my idea of what the most beautiful, most natural physical occurrence in life should be like - for either of us!

Now that I've had the last two of my three babies natuarally, it confirmed to me that there is so much more to enjoy in a natural childbirth. I'm the one in control - I tell the nurses what's going on and they follow my lead. I physically NEED my husband through the labor process (his muscles were sore the next day from rubbing my back!), not just for moral support, which means he is a true partner in the process. And the immediate release of the pain of labor that happens as soon as the baby pops out just amplifies the ultimate joy of seeing your baby for the first time - there's absolutely nothing like it, and I honestly feel sorry for all the women who miss out on the experience.

Call me old fashioned, but nothing worthwhile in life should come without some pain and a lot of hard work.

ray said...

imme, you are truly morally superior. haha. Seriously, I forgot about all the horror that goes along with an epidural. I was told I had to have an IV first. It honestly took more than an hour and more than 10 stabs to get an IV the size of a McDonald's drinking straw into my vein. Then they gave me a "numbing" shot before the epidural which is a joke because how can you not feel something that is being stabbed into your spine!

But in defense of epidurals - as a person who has never had any less than 7 stitches during the aftermath - the repair is definitely more pleasant with an epidural. And surely, imme, you can't rank the repair as part of the "most beautiful and natural" parts of having a baby. I just don't think they give epidurals to women after they've delivered. Bring on the fish-hooks.