How I learned to stop worrying and love the epidural

August 29th, 2010

I put the finishing touches on our Birth Plan last night and it’s printed and ready to go into the hospital bag. It’s a one-pager that highlights some of our preferences for the birth experience. Keep the students to a minimum (it’s a teaching hospital). Don’t circumcise my kid. I’m planning to donate cord blood. No pacifiers in the nursery. That sort of stuff.

Under the section on “pain management,” I’ve written — “Once labor is actively established, Kate would like to receive an epidural.”

Those words represent a pretty monumental sea change from the first birth plan I wrote when preparing for Miss Mouse’s arrival. Two years ago, I was on the natural childbirth band wagon and had every intention of braving the miracle of birth sans pain meds. I won’t lie — I was a bit high and mighty about the whole thing, too. I secretly looked down on the women in my childbirth class who wanted epidurals in the parking lot and couldn’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t at least take a crack at giving birth the old fashioned way.

Then labor hit. It was long. Mouse was posterior. I was unprepared. It was long. I ended up getting an epidural after many hours of labor, but felt like a total failure for doing so. My lasting memory of the birth experience is one of pain and emotional turmoil and a fair bit of disappointment. Obviously, I was thrilled with the final result and Miss Mouse’s arrival in the world was the best moment of my life. But birth itself? Not great, in my book.

This time around, I’m taking a different approach and planning on availing myself of the best the medical profession has to offer in terms of pain management: the epidural. It’s taken me pretty much these whole 9 months to accept that this decision is best for me and to learn to “own it” (as our childbirth educator has been coaching me!).

So here I am, three weeks out, and owning it. It’s in writing, even. It’s been hard for me to accept that this decision is just that: a decision. A choice between several options. I struggle to keep from thinking of it as a preemptive failure or sign of weakness. But I’m getting there. And on the whole, I feel good about the decision. I’m looking forward to the birth now, instead of dreading it as I was for many months.

One response to “How I learned to stop worrying and love the epidural”

  1. isa says:

    I think it's good that you're making this choice now, and not forcing yourself to decide in the middle of things (obviously before you couldn't know how you were going to feel about it until you were there, but since now you know, you can plan ahead). I had the weird realization that I had an epidural for my foot surgery after college–it hadn't occurred to me that that's what was keeping me from feeling them working on my feet while the rest of me was awake. It was surreal (they had to keep making me lie down so I would stop watching) but didn't hurt, had no side effects that I can remember, and also didn't feel like nothing going on–I felt a lot of what was going on, just not any pain. If it allows you to relax and be more present for your son when he comes, I say take the pain meds!

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