It’s probably going against the grain to be talking about pain medication in a natural parenting blog, and one of the few writers this week that would probably advocate non-natural childbirth; but I always knew that epidural was going to be my drug of choice when the time came to give birth. Two distinct memories of labor and birth came from my mother and childhood best friend. I was three weeks overdue, and by the the time my mother delivered me; I was over ten pounds. She would regale in the horror of the labor and how terrified she was of her next birth, my brother. My best friend had a child right out of high school. I remember her telling me how it was the worst pain she had ever been in her life. With those two very painful experiences; I decided that I would DEFINITELY get an epidural, no doubt about it. I would always joke, first sign of contraction, I am rushing myself to the hospital so they could stick a needle in my back. Of course, I never expected to be induced either.
I waited a long time to have a child. Although I am only couple months shy of thirty; I am the last of my siblings, who are of rightful childbirthing age, to have a baby. My brothers would often ask me, when I would settle down and be a mother. I had no interest in settling down. I loved traveling and loved my life as a single girl in the city. However that changed when I met my baby’s father. Things progressed pretty quickly for us, and not even a year after we became a couple; I was pregnant. I suffered through the hell of first trimester, the bliss of second, and the ridiculous weight gain of third. We started laughing one night because my feet were SO swollen, they looked like Fred Flinstones. Then there was the waiting game. Waiting patiently for my daughter to make her entrance into the world. Eight days past her due date, and still no sign of our daughter; an induction was scheduled. Although I had always planned for an epidural; the induction didn’t play into the equation. I tried everything from sex to chocolates to induce naturally. No avail, on April 1st at 7:30 in the morning; we arrived at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, PA with my trusty pillow.
Right before we headed to the hospital; I mediated in hopes of having a peaceful labor. Although I was delivering in an ultra swank l&d suite that looked like a five star hotel; I still wanted some semblance of natural childbirth. I remember the l&d nurse joking, “She’s being evicted today”. Although I did appreciate her joke, I also felt a bit cheated that I wouldn’t be able to spontaneously go into labor. It seemed a bit clinical and cold. An IV of pitocin was slowly dripped into my veins. I popped my yoga compilation cd that I had listened to all throughout my pregnancy. It helped me stay calm and focused. Contractions started an hour later and progressed pretty quickly. Since I was being shot full of chemicals; I tried to remain open minded about perhaps going naturally. But I knew in the back of my head, that I would probably end up getting one. (nice try on my part) I was hooked up to machines, fetal heart monitor, and IV. It felt totally wrong, but I tried to make best out of the situation by using rocking chairs, walking up and down next to my bed and getting a nice foot massage from Eddie.
Perhaps it was the pitocin; but all of sudden, my contractions speedily got stronger and more intense. There was no fooling myself at this point. I was getting an epidural and whatever pain cocktail they had for me. An anesthesiologist was summoned. Eddie was shooed away by the nurse, and a needle was stuck down my back. I felt the immediate cool sensation; I was grateful. The pain didn’t seem unmanageable anymore. However, the left side of my uterus kept contracting like crazy. The nurse checked; I was nine cm. dilated. Half hour later; I was ready to push. The worst pain of my life soon followed. I felt this incredible pressure and I was begging the nurse to use forceps, do a C-section, anything to get her out of me. The nurse kept encouraging me by saying that my daughter had full set of hair, but I was beyond caring. I was emitting primal noises and grunting with exhaustion. At one point, I asked if the epidural was still on. Fourty-five minutes into delivery; I focused and pushed my daughter down the birth canal. Three long and hard pushes later; she was ready to be delivered. The attending was rushed in and the pediatric nurse soon followed. Everyone was yelling at me to push. An episiotomy followed, and at 4:38 P.M., my daughter made her fashionably late entrance into the world.
She was plopped onto my chest and I remember looking down at her in amazement. Eddie was next to me with tears in his eyes. I didn’t start crying until I saw his. She was taken away for her Apgar but then brought back to nurse couple minutes later. I felt a bit squeamish about putting her to my breast, but my daughter latched on like a pro. Her suckle was powerful and intense. I knew at that moment, she was going to have all of us hopping at our feet. And I was right. My labor and delivery was nothing like how I envisioned; but I came to terms with that… slowly.
One thing I don’t regret is the Epidural. Even during our birthing class; there were a lot of cautionary tale about how many mothers ended up with C-sections. I felt our Lamaze instructor seemed biased toward natural childbirth. However, I am glad I went with pain management. I don’t think I could have endured the painful end if I didn’t have that relief in between. I learned from this experience that no matter how much you prepare and how much you envision it; giving birth is out of our control. But no matter what way or how; birth is an amazing act of love and a small miracle here on earth. I am blessed to have finally joined the motherhood club.
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[This post was written by Susie Kim.]