**If you're not one for details, just read the bold paragraph. That pretty much sums it up.
When i was pregnant with Isaac I took a Hypnobirthing class. The basic idea is that if you relax your body and learn to work with it, you can eliminate pain from childbirth. I have always wanted to birth naturally. I'm sure this is partly due to the fact that my mom had all six of her children naturally and we women tend to favor doing things the way our mothers did. Other reasons included the negative affect medicine could have on the baby as well as wanting better bonding with an alert baby and mom, and easier recovery. Maybe I'm just a little crazy and I like a challenge, but point being, it's something I've always felt strongly about. And, I am proud to say, even with my stingy, tight-wadded, budget-happy personality, the insane cost of an epidural was not among my initial reasoning to go without. That said...
After 14 hours of labor with Isaac, I got an epidural at the suggestion of my Doctor. He didn't push me to do it at all, and while I would have liked to go natural, I don't regret getting it, especially since I pushed for three hours. Now I'm sure that part of the reason it took three hours had to do with the fact that he was my first, but I am also convinced that I had to push longer because I couldn't feel a darn thing. They'd say push, and I would just squeeze whatever felt like it might be the right thing to squeeze if I could feel what I were squeezing. I was surprised how sore and swollen (and torn) I was afterwords. I also experienced some swelling during my second trimester of this last pregnancy that I believe came from pushing for so long last time.
I walked away from that delivery a little disappointed. A lot of the things I wanted to happen did not. But, it was a first time experience, and it prepared me a lot for my second delivery. My big fear was that, having said yes to an epidural once, I would not have the courage to go without the next time.
Because of the Gestational Diabetes, my doctor wanted to induce me a week early. This is protocol due to an unexplained higher death rate in G.D. babies the last week of gestation. I imagine it also has to do with the fact that G.D. babies are usually significantly larger than normal. I told my doctor that I would like to go into labor naturally. He agreed to let me go full term since my Diabetes was well managed, as long as there weren't any complications. I love my doctor, and I'm sad to be so far away from him now. He knows I take care of myself, and he gives me a lot of control in my care.
Saturday evening my contractions started feeling a lot less braxton hickish and a lot more labor painy. I timed them, but they weren't consistent. They were generally less than 10 minutes apart, but varied quite a bit. They were definitely getting stronger, though. I had a feeling we would be going to the hospital in the next 24 hours. I woke up at 2 in the morning, because, though scarce, the contractions were too strong to sleep through. I walked around the house, had a bowl of cereal (naughty), and wrote a letter to the Mr. for Father's Day. I hoped that moving around would speed up the contractions, but it seemed to have the opposite effect so I went back to bed after about an hour.
In the morning I started getting ready for the day, debating whether I was going to make it to church or not. I wanted to, but I thought I might make a scene in Relief Society if my contractions started getting closer. I took a shower, made breakfast for the Mr., and baked some cookies while he timed contractions. He would roll me the exercise ball when it was about time for another one so I could lean against it. Around 10am the contractions started coming about 5 minutes apart (Now, mind you, with Isaac I had had strong contractions 5 min apart for over 12 hours. I went to the hospital about 3 hours into it and I was dilated to a 1). Ed started loading the car while I laid on the couch and the Bug played with his cars like a champ.
We left around 11, dropped Isaac off to Grandma mid-way, and arrived at the hospital at about noon. Thank goodness they had a wheelchair waiting. I needed it. I was dilated to a 7 when we got there. I never even had time to hop in the tub (okay, at this stage, I probably would have plopped more than hopped). The doctor came, and an hour and a half later our sweet little boy was laying on my chest.
Having a baby hurts. Like, a lot. I kinda screamed. And by kinda I mean I really screamed and it was pretty embarassing. I was thinking 'I hope these walls are soundproof; I've got to be scaring people out in the halls.' The nurses at the nurses station must have been thinking: Hello! We have something for that--it's called an epidural. Get one! I also may or may not have said things like: "Get him out!" "Am I having a cow or a baby?" and "owie, owie, owie!" Yeah, never thought I would say those things. At one point the doctor told me he could see the head. I said 'you mean he isn't out yet???'
Everyone was so great. Ed was an awesome coach, and he helped me remember to breath and relax through the contractions. I didn't have the mental capacity to think about that, but when he reminded me I could, and it made a huge difference. I labored on my hands and knees, another thing I didn't expect, but that's where it felt the best when I started, and I didn't want to move after that. I kind of think it was nice, because all I could see were the sheets. I didn't even know who was in the room. If I could have seen them, it might have been a lot more distracting/distressing.
When Adam's head came out he had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. They had to cut that off before they could get him the rest of the way out. I guess he was pretty purple. 8lbs. 7.6oz, 21 inches long. His head was above the 90th percentile. A big boy, they kept telling me. 8 1/2 pounds sounded pretty good to me; I knew he could have been 10, and I didn't want to push that out.
My recovery has been awesome. I feel great, and it has been so nice to have Ed home with us. It is amazing that after less than a week I am already starting to forget how bad it was. I swore to myself in the thick of it that I wouldn't do it again (naturally, I mean--it wasn't so bad that I was ready to swear off of kids all together :), but already I'm not so sure. It was so fast, and I am so grateful. I felt a sort of spiritual strength helping me get through. In fact, I had a really neat experience during labor that in and of itself would have made it all worth it.
So if asked, from a moral standpoint, if I think women should have their children naturally, I would say: heck yes. And, heck no. Before I really thought that natural is better. Now, having seen both sides of the coin, I have to say that I see the beauty of both. I may go natural again. I may have all of my babies naturally. But, I will no longer feel "guilty" if I choose to have an epidural. Childbirth is hard. It is really hard. And, like my sister-in-law always says, what do I get for going natural? A star on my forehead? No thanks.
Adam is perfect. He is beautiful and healthy. I feel so blessed that he has joined our family. There is no doubt in my mind that he is more than just a compilation of chromosomes and DNA. He has a spirit, and he was not created at conception. I am so excited to see what this little boy becomes.