We went to labor classes, and I was all excited. I could do this, no epidural, no drugs. I’d run a marathon, I have a high pain threshold. I was all set mentally for this approach.
As it turned out, labor itself was enough of a marathon. One month to be exact. Did you know you can be in early labor for a whole month? Real contractions, off and on, for weeks. I knew that by the time my water broke, it would be go time.
Which turned out to be 1 a.m. on a Monday morning. The doctor on call was not worried, he did not know I had been through early labor already. We packed up and went to the hospital.
I refused the epidural initially, the contractions got stronger. I allowed them to “knock the edge off” with the epidural at seven. “Keep it light,” I said. Pretty soon it was time to push. And I pushed, and pushed. And pushed. Two hours of pushing. I watched the little one’s heart rate drop with every push. Something was not right. My pubic bone slanted inward, there was no way I could give birth naturally.
They cranked on the epidural and a c-section followed. My doctor offered to try natural birth — with forceps and risks. “Get the baby out, c-section, now!” I said. I had seen enough of her struggles on the heart rate monitor.
Later, lying in bed, with my child nursing, I looked at my beautiful little girl. The natural birth I thought was so important did not matter. That was an experience I wanted for me, not her. What mattered, for her, was being born alive and healthy. This is more important than my fleeting need for a certain experience. And that was my first lesson on parenting.
I never considered having my child anywhere but a hospital. I don’t see modern medicine as unnatural. I do think each of us has to fully participate in the process and not leave it to the doctors. But, without those advances, I would not have my child. Period.
I am sure this decision was bolstered by having a sister who is a neo-natal nurse practitioner. She is on staff and present at births where there are risks for the child. She provides the kind of lifesaving instant care that helps some infants survive who would not have otherwise. Any delay in getting this care could be fatal for some situations. She’s very busy at work.
[This post was written by Beth Bader.]
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