Last week I had my daughter . Those words still blow my mind. Not just because she was nearly 4 weeks early or because it went down almost exactly the way it did with Jackson from my water breaking to it being a holiday weekend to them being born 1 minute apart . But because giving birth is a surreal experience, once you’ve had a baby you find it hard to believe that you actually went through it, that you survived. That all of what preceded was real.
Grace’s birth was a lot harder on me than Jackson’s was. As with Jackson I didn’t get an epidural . But with Jackson I had the time for some pain medication, with Grace I did not and things got intolerable pretty fast. At 4-5 centimeters and 3 hours in I waved the white flag and requested pain medication. But it didn’t come right away and things got worse, a lot worse and within a few minutes the OB came in and said I was 8 cm, would be 10 in a few contractions and the baby would be here before the hour was up. I was feeling pressure and not pain and I was too close to delivery for pain medication to help. Delivery was rough, probably the most painful event of my life. After delivery everyone kept saying I was awesome .
And here’s some truth, I felt anything but awesome because in reality I felt foolish for having refused an epidural. I choose the hard not because I wanted to be awesome or have a unmedicated child-birth. I choose the hard because I was scared of the alternative. I was scared of a large needle and not being able to feel anything. I was scared of slowing labor and having to get a c-section. Not that c-sections are scary but I’m prone to panicking and passing out when people even talk about surgery, let alone when it’s me that they are talking about doing it to. I once walked out of an orthopedic surgeons office when he described the knee surgery I needed, my mom and the nurse found me outside slumped against the wall. I have no memory of walking out there. I made the decision to go without the epidural out of fear,not bravery.
So my medication-free labor, doesn’t make me awesome. In fact I think every woman who gets through child-birth whether by c-section or using an epidural or meditating throughout the birth is pretty awesome. My birth plan had always been whatever gets me through it. Whatever brings the baby into this world safely. And choosing to forgo pain medication whether on purpose or because there was no choice doesn’t make me anymore awesome than a mom who got an epidural. In fact I spent a lot of my labor being very jealous of the mom who got the epidural. Her husband probably wasn’t worried that she would break his finger, during a contraction.