Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's Time We Showed the Epidural a Little Love

Last week when I read about the woman from Iowa who gave birth vaginally, without drugs, to a 13 lb baby! I just wanted to stick an ice pack between my legs. Then, I just wanted to ask her why. I get the whole "natural" birth movement -- kinda. But deep down, I don't find anything at all natural about all of that pain -- not when there are anesthesiologists in this world.

When I had my daughter, the nurse told me I wasn't dilated enough yet and that I should take a walk around the hospital. I wanted to tell her to take a hike. I don't care that I was only 3 cm, I was in ridiculous amounts of pain. We're talking throwing up, can't even talk, kind of pain (and, from a kid whose nickname was chatterbox, it's saying a lot if I can't talk). Then, I got my epidural...

People love to be down on the epidural, saying it's "not natural." Well, I'll tell you what's not natural -- enduring massive amounts of pain when good drugs are available and covered by insurance. I'm not afraid to say it (well, just a little afraid). I loved me my epidurals.

After that epidural kicked in, I went from agony to bliss. Somewhere down the hall, another mom made a different decision. We could hear her screaming and the nurses got worried that, as a first-time mom, I'd be terrified by what I was hearing and offered to shut some more doors to block out the noise. No bother I told them, I'm feeling quite smug about my choice to go for the drugs right about now. Those drugs took the pain away and allowed me to be present and to relax and enjoy the process of giving birth. I shudder to think what that experience would have been like without it.

That was my first baby. When I showed up at the hospital, I had a bag packed with about 20 pairs of socks, enough snacks to feed us for a week, a colorful pillowcase on my pillow (so it won't get confused with the hospital's pillows -- as if...), and a well-thought out birth plan.

When I went into the hospital with baby number two, I had a much-lighter bag and a much simpler birth plan. In red, bold, 72-point font, it read, "EPIDURAL." That was the sole extent of my birth plan. I knew from experience that was all I'd need for a happy, pain-free delivery. After the nurse remarked on the size of my son's head (hello 97th percentile!!), I felt extremely grateful that I'd made the decision I had. For me, I'm glad I was able to welcome my babies into this world with a smile on my face, rather than a grimace of pain.

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