When I gave birth to Blake, I was so over-dosed on meds that I have almost no recollection of what happened. I hadn’t requested the medications – they just sort of appeared. “Here is your epidural …” “The doctor ordered this for your pain …” “It’s really just better if you take it.” The thing is, the stuff they gave to me took more than the edge off my pain – they took away the entire birthing experience. I was determined not to let that happen this time. I wanted to know what giving birth was really like. So I decided to go without an epidural and endure the pain like a real girl. Clearly I had no idea what I was getting myself into – but I’m so glad I did it.
When I posted Rhett’s first picture on Facebook, a highschool classmate (who is also a midwife) posted a note that she hoped it was an empowering experience. It was such an interesting choice of words, most especially because that is not at all how I would have characterized giving birth to Blake Dean. For him, it would have been more like “hazy,” “foggy,” “out of it,” etc. And yet the word empowering was so incredibly accurate for Rhett’s birth, and I know going sans drugs had a lot to do with it. Yes, it was so painful. But in the end, I felt stronger than I’ve ever felt in my life. It was such an amazing journey to feel every piece of Rhett’s entry into this world. I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than fully experiencing the gift of giving life.
Not to mention, I felt like a major bad-ass for not taking the drugs. (That’s not to say the experience didn’t completely kick my ass momentarily – I have never seen myself so tired as in this post-delivery video below.)[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SldXmAQe_s]
I don’t say any of this to judge anyone who says yes to the epidural. I just had to share how fulfilling it was to have the opportunity to go without it. Outside of the emotional connection to the experience, I also discovered that recovery is *so* much easier when your system doesn’t have to clear out all the muck before physically returning to pre-baby form. With Blake, there were parts of my legs that were numb for months after the epidural supposedly wore off. I clung to my prescription Motrin for weeks because of how painful the stitching had been. (Forced to use a vacuum because I was able to contribute so little to the process.) And yet, with Rhett I was comfortable and walking without pain meds the very next day.
I’ve never been incredibly well-versed in natural childbirth (however you define it), but I definitely wish I had read up on it sooner. Kudos to all of the doctors, nurses, midwives, caretakers out there who support a woman’s right to fully experience childbirth. I had no idea what a profound impact it would make on my life.