Friday, April 11, 2008

As nice as it might sound at the time, I do not want to get an epidural:

I do not want to get an epidural. I am not "against" them, the theory is very good. It gives you a rest, while you are totally awake. You can "relax" and dilate and then they can "turn it down" and you can push out your baby. This is pretty much how my first birth went, and with the Mag Sulfate, the IV's, and of course, the Pitocin, I was very glad to go from immobilized and in crushing pain to immobilized and numb as a corpse. Plus I didnt feel a thing when they unecessarily cut my vagina in half and sewed it shut afterwards! Yay.

But as we all know too well, the epidural can go very differently than that. It can slow labor, it can not work, it can partially work, it can lower blood pressure in you and the baby, and it can cause headaches and even paralysis and death in rare cases.

But none of this is why I personally do not want to get an epidural with this baby. The reason that I don't want to get one is this: I see it as a direct route to a C Section. and I see it as them taking away my ability to run away. Yep, I said it. To get the hell up. To move. To switch about. To stand. To empty my own bladder and bowels. To run out the door if it gets too psycho. (I am sure that that is EXTREMELY rare, but I like the option) To rock and roll and rock and roll and rock and roll my baby out. Call me fat call me tall but I don't have very wide hips, and for me, layin there like a flounder does not equal vaginal birth.

Its gonna hurt, labor. Its gonna hurt alot. Its gonna feel like a truck is parked on my back, like my bones are breaking, like my body is exploding, like I am drowning. Go ahead, think that is bad, think that is negative--but I don't. I think it is just how it feels, and my point is that it feels like that for a matter of hours.

A C Section hurts in so many different ways and for so so so much longer. Some people would say forever. Some people think that is dumb. Some people actually prefer a cesarean. Bla bla bla.

But for me, for my family, for my life with baby, this might just be the thought that gets me through the labor pains. That it will soon be over. It will soon be over. Each one brings me closer to the end of pain. Each contraction showing that my body works fine and that everything is going as it should. All the ladies on the birth videos, all the stories in the books, all the women leaning forward, leaning forward, rocking their hips, moaning in low tones, eyes closed, this is Birth. I really feel like I have a chance. But I am not going to try it paralyzed, no matter how nice it sounds, no matter how much it hurts, I cant risk it.

If I need a cesarean, it isn't going to be because I couldn't push while laying flat on my back and completely numb.

My interest in focusing on flowers or beaches or spirals or muzak is lessening as the date draws nearer. Although I do have one distinct memory of "traveling" up into the holes in the drop-ceiling tiles of the hospital when I was in labor with Charlie, for the most part, I am ok with feeling it all. Maybe its a by product of being behind that blue curtain, head lower than my body, stark naked, paralyzed up to the neck ("sorry, Mom, sometimes it can feel like you cant breathe, but you can") arms strapped out, crucifix-style with industrial strength straps that makes me okay with feeling. Feeling is real and feeling is normal and feeling is really my only hope. Do I love pain? Ummm no. But I know what the score is, and had a baby at home. I remember making it through each contraction, and living, obviously. It wasn't easy, it wasn't ecstatic, it wasn't orgasmic, but oh the afterwards sure was! For MONTHS I was glowing, healthy, empowered, optimistic, proud, sane, whole.
I also remember my three other births, and the cuts and the staples, the stitches and burning, the aching and pinching, the fevers (all 3) and infections, the incapacitation, the ice packs and hot packs and pain pills and crying, the not being able to walk or rock or feed or lift or change or dress my baby or toddlers.....THAT is pain. THAT is intolerable pain. Not a contraction. Not a sore coochie or achy shoulders.

Well, this is my reality. I am just a person, putting my thoughts down onto my blog. Just like you and thousands (millions?) of others. You don't need to email my midwife and tell her you are "concerned" about me. You don't need to tsk tsk or shake your head at what I have to say. You don't have to agree with me or refute me. I am sad to say that I am this close to shutting down this particular blog, and I don't want to. I am not sure if I have exhausted all there is to say, or if there is more. I started this almost 2 years ago, before any thoughts of a 5th child were on the horizon. I never knew what a pregnancy of my own would do to this blog. I still have lots of opinions about the state of maternity care in our country, but now feel like I have to be "careful" what I say, lest it speak for my own situation and flip everyone out. This pregnancy and its grey-zone semi-high-risk wierdness has knocked me off my soapbox and has ruined the quality of my writing. On many levels, this pregnancy has turned this blog into a nerve-wracking chore. I am sorry to all of you for all of the ways that it has changed.

I am looking forward to everyone's input about epidurals, etc.
Love to all!
Housefairy Joy


K8 said...

I am with you so very much on the no epidural. Home birth is not an option for me (purely financially), and I'm lucky that the hospital I will be delivering at is Baby and Mother Friendly... but it's still a hospital. I saw an epidural given a few weeks ago; before that I was nebulously against one, but now I'm very firmly so! Big, scary needles being put in places no needle should ever go.. I'm sure I'll love one if I end up needing a cesarean (gods hope not!), but casually? Hell no! I don't expect labor to be painless, by any means, especially with as much as I variously ache already, but here's the thing: pain's not going to hurt me. I don't enjoy it, but if it's not a signifier of something wrong, why worry? I think that's the real reason women get them so readily - and probably also why docs are so happy to hand them out - we're conditioned to think that pain automatically means there's something wrong - and it usually does, and when it doesn't, as with labor, we get confused, because so many women don't have anyone there telling them it's ok, that this pain DOESN'T mean there's something wrong, that there's something right. Rather run-on, but I think you know what I mean.

I hope you don't close this blog; it's been a source of inspiration for me in my path as a newbie doula, even when I don't agree with you. Hell, *because* I don't agree with you sometimes! I do understand being not in a headspace to write, though - as my own pregnancy progresses, I find so many things are so much more important than mere blog posts! It's been more than a month since I last posted on my own.

I am a Monkey's Mama said...

Mama Joy...

Regardless of who is flipped out. Regardless of doesn't agree with your choices. Regardless of it all--

This is YOUR story to tell. YOUR journey to walk. Only YOU have to live with the choices you make.

Keep living, Mama. Just keep living. I have faith in you, in your body, and in your baby.


hans said...

I always love your writing. You've got an incredible gift of turning your own experience into something valuable, a work of art, a piece that educates me not in its facts and figures, but in the way you converge fact and feeling. Your experience with the glucose tolerance test was really touching for me -- I knew how lame that test was just from what I'd read about it, but you really captured the institutional unfeelingness of it, how little regard the system has for the horrible experience a mother has to go through to get her test result. I'm sure I'd have felt the same way if I had taken it.

It really annoys me to hear that people write your midwife all concerned about you. That's between you and your midwife. Just because you put yourself out there in a blog doesn't mean you can't handle your own affairs. I hope you don't have to shut down, but if you do, I'll still read your other blogs.

Andrea said...

Whoops. I accidentally posted on my husband's account. Hans was actually me, Andrea. Love ya.

Judit said...

Your intelligent readers ought to be/should have been able to handle shades of gray and ambivalence and all that. (Sorry if we haven't!) You can be an advocate for safe home birth and have your baby in a hospital. No contradiction there at all. You can be dead set on not getting an epidural and also dreading the pain. Your logic stands and your feelings are valid.

PAIN, talking about pain in childbirth, is so loaded. Everyone is tempted to DO SOMETHING with other people's pain, other people's feelings about pain... it's so tempting to minimize, deny, soothe, numb, or rivalize with other people's experience of pain...

KEM said...

Woohoo, sister - I'm SO right there with you on reserving the right to get up and run out of the hospital. I'm 18 weeks now and I've been trying to remember for months if the bathrooms there have locks on them so I can lock myself in if they come harassing me too much (I'm planning a homebirth, but these thoughts keep me awake at night).

I've already warned my husband that I have no problem going out to the car to give birth if the hospital staff get pushy like they did last time - that ended in my unnecessary c-section which DID suck for months afterward (not physically - emotionally). I suspect recounting the experience will still make me cry bitter tears when I'm 80...

Hang in there, mama. We need people like you to speak your truths so we can live with ours.

Andrea said...

I had a thought about the epidural. Being petrified of needles, but not really scared of pain at all, I couldn't imagine getting one, though I see where it might be necessary in certain situations. BUT, what I don't understand, is why everyone doesn't take a huge needle in the spine very seriously, why so many women have no fear of it. It's a big needle in the spine. Shouldn't that be inherently scary? Shouldn't it be inherently something to try to avoid if you can? Makes no sense to me. Not to mention rendering one unable to run away, like you said. I think it's smart to always have oneself in the position to be able to run away from ANYTHING, if at all possible. It's a fight or flight thing, and we all know labor is no time to fight.

Jill said...

Oh, please don't leave (and if you do, tell me how to keep tabs on you)! My pregnancy has turned my blog into one big painful argument too, which is why I've just tried to be as boring as possible and save the righteous ranting for later. It works! It sucks feeling like I have to keep my mouth shut, but hey, at least the people who keep bringing negative attention to my blog have nothing to feed on.

Who on earth would dare email your midwife, YOUR MIDWIFE, who as far as I know is totally on board with your birth plans? In fact I don't even see anything to freak out about. Some people will just NOT be satisfied until you do things THEIR WAY, even though you are not them and therefore THEIR choices are NOT always right for YOU. The nerve!

And Gawd, I don't ever want another epidural either. Being stuck on my back with my hoo-ha in the air and totally helpless was MUCH worse than the labor pains.

Kelley said...

Joy, I've found every single word you've written on your blog to be inspiring. You have helped me to think about things I wouldn't have thought about otherwise. You've helped me to see things from perspectives I've never seen before. I respect YOU for who YOU are. The journey you have traveled with all your babies has been varied, but beautiful because it was your journey. Whatever your experience is with this baby, I will never judge you because I do not live in your shoes. I understand if you need to close the blog, but I want you to know that you have changed my life. Not necessarily because of the words you've written (though those have been powerful in the way you translate raw feeling into words that mean something), but because of who you are. Thank you so much.

Andy and Nessa Dunnells said...


I am about to have my first baby and found your blog through Rixa. I LOVE your blog. well all of them really. They're part of my daily reads. But this one has been so helpful, honest, truthful and so much more during this time. It has helped me to look at my birth plan and birth ideals and say " ok this may not be how it goes down. If it's not that doesn't make me a loser." Why? because, your not a loser. You made it and your a GREAT Mom and you seam like a really cool person.

So to you and all the people who dislike what you have to say.... Let them find another blog to read! If their lives are so miserable they need to bring you down to feel better then forget them! I know easier said then done...

And yes that may sound hypocritical considering I am password protected. But that's to keep my home life and work life separate. I'm happy to add anyone who wants!

Ok I wish you love and peace as you prepare for this next little one.

Jennifer said...

Everything you write here is valid, and your own truth. And I am so glad that you share this, because it is healing. Healing for you, and others that are trying to work out their own birth experiences.

With my one vaginal birth, they tried to push the epidural so early. Finally, I gave in and wish I wouldn't have. I totally get how you want to remain mobile.
And hey, I like to be able to WALK after I deliver, and take MYSELF to the bathroom. Ughh.

mama k said...

I like your honest style of writing and this post was just so authentic.

No epidural for me either. In Bradley classes we talked about "pain with a purpose"
The pain I felt in childbirth had a purpose. And since I had a low intervention hospital birth, there was minimal pain afterwards.
No lingering drug side effects or anything else. I was up shortly after labor to pee on my own. Other than the usual soreness and a few stitches, I was a-ok... even a bit shocked at how GOOD I felt after just giving birth!

Stacey said...

Oh, Joy, it is *your* blog, for your writing, and of someone doesn't like it then they can stop reading, kwim? I find a lot of wisdom in your writing. As for the epi...I didn't have one with Bella, (35w4d pitocin induced because of pre-e) I was afraid of a needle of that size anywhere NEAR me! I did choose one with Diego, (9 days late, went in to labor on my own, no pitocin) I was so afraid of the pain I had with Bella...I was so very mad at myself afterward, I totally could have delivered that posterior 8.8 baby without it. With Aidan, I didn't have one, didn't want one, wanted a homebirth but hubby did not I had him in the front seat of the van while traveling 60mph down the road, lol. Epi's are dangerous, and I do not think they should be offered as freely as they are. I was not informed of the side effects, just told to sign here, you might have a headache afterwards. @@ What they did NOT tell me is that I may walk away with permanent damage in my back. The pain I have had daily for the last 4+ years is not worth it.
Keep on truckin', Joy, I will continue to read every day :)

amanda said...

I have just spent the past couple of hours reading back through your blog. I wanted to drop you a line and tell you how awesome I think you are. I found you through Kneelingwoman's blog; I think we discussed the current mothering clique culture a bit over there.

How the hell do you do it? Seriously, how in the world do you manage to care for 4 kids and still write so beautifully? I only have a single 9 month old baby and I feel like he ate my brain.

On to the current post. I had an epidural. I went in wanting natural childbirth, but 1 hour after the AROM and pitocin cranked up, all the while being told not to move because the baby kept going off the monitors, I was screaming like an animal for that epidural. I couldn't have one until I got to 4cm, but luckily for me I went from 1cm to 5cm during that 1 hour. Was complete 3 hours later. Baby was a face presentation so it took a vacuum and an epis after 3 hours of fruitless pushing (3rd degree and lots of stitches) to get him out.

I was a perfect epidural. I didn't feel a thing until I was pushing. It had run out around the time I was complete so it didn't interfere. Still, I wish things hadn't gone that way. I wish I had been free to rock, change positions, get into the tub or shower.....maybe I'm deluding myself but I think I could have done it without the epidural if it hadn't been for the pitocin, AROM and cEFM. Next time I'm getting a midwife.

I hope you get the birth that you want this time. I'm certainly pulling for you.

TracyKM said...

I enjoyed reading your post and agree with so much. I have told people I'd rather run out of the hospital than be 'forced' to have a c-section (I don't understand how a doc can 'force' you too unless unconscious).
My SIL, who ran marathons, had an epidural because she 'felt like the contractions were killing her'. No one has ever died from labour pains, have they? But women have died from epidurals/complications.
Visualization never helped me any. You can't picture a flower and the pain disappears. I just let my body go with the tightenings, and avoided negative language, used vocalizing, etc. My last two births were almost pain free. What really helped was to figure out the math. If a contraction lasts 60secs, happens every 5 minutes....that's only 12 minutes out of the hour in pain. I've had toothaches last longer and feel worse than contractions. I wanted to be in control of my births, and got it 2 out of 3 times. Those were some very proud moments.

Judit said...

Visualizations: they don't make the pain go away (didn't for me at any rate) but I am absolutely convinced that visualizing my cervix opening sped up the rate of dilation. Voila! more efficient labor, pain's over sooner. At any rate, if you can focus on visualizing, you're probably not hurting so badly that you're desperate for an epidural.

Sarah said...

Your blog has been very inspiring to me; I had an epidural/ c-section when I wanted a homebirth. The emotional aspects of that are still with me, and reading your words I know I'm not the only one.
The reason I had an epidural was because I told myself over and over during my pregnancy if I had to transfer to a hospital I wouldn't be able to labor there. Of course tell yourself that enough, it will be true, and I asked for epidural immediately when I got there (of course back labor helped). Baby couldn't turn correctly after that, so it did lead to a c-section.
Really I think two things would have been helpful in my situation (and maybe yours?)
1- meditation- I CAN labor in a hospital if I need to. I can labor anywhere. My body is made to do this.
2- Having a doula. There was nothing to focus on in the hospital, and dh was too busy freaking out.
Again, I hope this blog doesn't get closed. You are an honest person and brave for both sharing your feelings and also for doing what you think is right for you and your baby.

mamasmotives said...

The previous poster mentioned affirmations such as "I can", etc... This is a form of Hypnosis, and it works wonderfully & beautifully during labor! Have you considered Hypnobabies? I used it for the birth of my daughter and it was pain-free, it was orgasmic, and it was so amazing. I had two pervious medicated births that were so painful and so not beautiful.