Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Baby Story: Surprising Myself (Part II)

Part one can be found here

Everyone who’s been around here knows that my intention was always to do labor naturally. I’d read the books, watched the DVDs, criticized women who seemed so attached to their immediate pain relief, and decided what I was going to do.

It did not take me long to repent, in my heart, for all of my criticisms of anyone who chose immediate relief over laboring without help.  I suddenly understood, and no longer saw it as an either/or, but just a different choice.  I realized that, sincerely, every one is different and every labor is different and you can’t possibly say that what is right for you is the absolute right thing for everyone else. 

That’s probably the best of my “still preparing for parenthood” moments, as I mentioned before.

We were admitted and transferred into our room at around 9:30am; our families were there for our labor, and there was a lot of adjusting of monitors—Baby Girl just DID NOT want to be monitored.  I was hooked up to fluids and to the monitors, but able to be out of bed in what was perhaps the most comfortable and wonderful rocking chair ever. 

Musicboy and I worked through the contractions together.  I would grab for his hand and, on the particularly tough ones, ask him to just count through them. Somehow, hearing “1, 2, 3, 4…” helped me focus and made it seem much less interminable. I never really looked at the contraction screen until the very end of labor—I was always turned away from it or in front of it.  My mom was there and helped me too, tag teaming with Musicboy so that he could get some rest, if even for just a few minutes.  

They were rough at times, less so in others.  The nurse and everyone in the room kept telling me how well I was doing with the contractions and managing the pain. At some point during this time, the anesthesiologist came in to talk to me about epidurals just in case. They consent you so that they can just do it when and if the time comes, rather than having to try to reason with and explain details to a woman in serious active labor.
This is a very wise plan, I feel. I've only been through one serious active labor, but I'll tell you that I wasn't my sharpest.

At about 1:30, which was 4 hours after we got admitted, the doctor came in to examine me.  I was initially excited, as I thought we would see progress and that was good.  The exam, however, was horrific. It was long, intense, and INCREDIBLY painful.

That was the moment that I really broke down. 

I’d been handling things pretty well up until then. I was breathing, I was hopeful, I was moving through the pain as best I could.  The unrelenting nature of the contractions made me wonder, at times, if I could do it. True to his word, Musicboy told me that I could. 

But that exam—I can’t explain how bad it was.  It was HORRIBLE.  I was sobbing by the end of it.

And the results? We were at 5, 90% effaced (went backward), and -1.  She wanted to check me again in 4 hours to see where we were. There was some talk of breaking my water but she said, and I quote, “it will make her pain skyrocket” and that was one of the things that just sent me reeling.

It was about this time that I started thinking about the epidural. When you read that, you’ll think it’s because of the pain. It really wasn’t. During this time, the fetal heart rate monitor showed more “variables,” as they called them, and there was a lot of finagling to try to hear her and monitor her. I was asked to lay on my left side, etc. I was very aware of what was going on with the baby, even though no one was really talking to me about the details.

I just started feeling like there was a reason that I needed to get it. Oddly, it wasn’t only because of the pain.  You can not believe me if you wish, but I can only describe it as an impression, one that certainly predicted what would eventually happen, that I needed to be prepared. 

It surprised me, honestly, how receptive I was to that impression, and more how little I felt guilty or upset about it.  I just…felt like it was right.  But it was so against what my plan was that it surprised me.

I had surprised myself by how much I had been able to handle thus far, but I think acting on faith and making the decision to get the epidural because I felt like I needed to (not because I couldn’t do it, per se, though my feelings about the pain were certainly part of it) would have been harder in my mind.  Surprisingly, it wasn't because I knew a few things.  The thing I knew most was that I needed to get it.  Two reasons kept going through my mind: a) I felt like, down the road, it was going to be really important to have and b) I would progress like CRAZY when I did. 

So Musicboy and I talked about it. He told me he still thought that I could do it the way that we had planned, the way that we had hoped.  I told him of my feelings, of what I was feeling impressed to do, and we prayed.  I felt the same way after the prayer as I did before—no real doubt, no real feeling like I was giving up. It was more like I was trusting in a voice more knowledgeable than my own, which is actually sometimes harder than it seems.

At around 3 pm, I pushed the call button and requested the epidural. 


  1. I'm so proud of you. It can be SO much harder to go against your original plan, and it takes a lot of faith, trust, and wisdom to follow your instincts.

    We don't talk about it much, but I am really impressed by your faith.

    And if anyone wants to give you any guff, just send them my way so I can school them on the proper way to talk to a postpartum lady. :)

  2. way to trust those instincts Carrie--keep doing that! No book, no well-meaning stranger, no other experienced mother will know your body or your baby like you will. Bravo!

  3. I was chatting yesterday with a pregnant friend who told me what her birthing instructor recently told their class: "Medicine has come a long way. Would you, at the dentist, tell the doctor: 'No, thanks. No Novocain for me as you pull this tooth'? Probably not. Why, then, wouldn't you at least consider the option of giving birth with some sort of pain medication?"

    I thought it was a great argument for the consideration of all methods of giving birth (and I thought it would be a great argument for any judge-y people you might run across). Finally...unless you bring it up, no one has ANY right to ask you just HOW you gave birth. That is a sweet, private, special (oft painful) moment of exhausting joy that people don't have the right to hear about unless you feel like sharing it with them, un-prompted. It amazes me that people think pregnant womens' bodies and one of the most trying moments of their lives are just open for discussion. Thank you for choosing to share these very private moments with your us.