I lasted at home for a while, but once we’d hit hour eight of the baby-havin’ marathon, I decided it was time to take this show on the road. Given as how I’d been three centimeters dilated at my last appointment and had been in labor for what seemed like a lifetime, I assumed I’d be rolling into the hospital a solid five, maybe six centimeters strong.
I remember turning to my husband as he packed up our Jeep and telling him that if I was at four, I’d kill myself.
And sure enough, when they examined me at the hospital, I was four centimeters dilated.
I wanted to cry. And I would have, if something inside of me didn’t pick that moment to squeeze my uterus with a giant, metal spike-covered hand.
“You’re going all natural right?” the nurse chirped, taking my blood pressure. “Don’t need an IV?”
I looked at my husband, panicked and lost. I was terrified and exhausted. By this time, I’d been up for over twenty-four hours and we weren’t even halfway there. All I could think about was getting to the end and just being so tired that I couldn’t push the baby out. I felt like an idiot. I couldn’t get an epidural because I’d be letting everyone down but now that labor was here and the pain was real, I didn’t know what to do.
I think that if there is a God, he must have had some part with what happened next, because I have no other way to explain it. With his brow furrowed and a with a look of nothing but concern and love on his face, my husband told me that if I wanted an epidural, I should get one and for once … I didn’t argue with him. My pride and ego went right out the window (something that has never really happened before) and I decided that the relief from this constant, incredible pain was the best choice for me and my baby. My midwife actually agreed with our decision and in about twenty minutes, I was all hooked up. The pain was gone, I could sleep, and I was far more pleasant to be around. My labor progressed normally enough until we hit the ten-centimeter mark. I was fully dilated and ready to push. I had a ton of energy and couldn’t wait to see this little person I’d been growing inside of me for so long.
Ends up I grew the little person so well her gigantic head couldn’t fit through my pelvis.
After two hours of pushing, Emmy’s heart rate began to drop. The surgical team was fast and I was whisked away to the emergency room where they numbed me from the neck down and pulled my baby out in ten minutes flat.
I do not regret choosing to change my plan and use an epidural. At some point, it became the difference between hitting myself with hammer and not hitting myself with a hammer. With the epidural, my labor was close to blissful as I focused on my daughter’s upcoming emergence into the world and the joy my husband and I could experience together. If I had chosen to forgo pain medication, I can guarantee you the joy would have come in the afterglow, not the anticipation. It ends up that I was NOT built for natural childbirth and without a C-section, either me or my child would have died—maybe both even both of us. The epidural did not make me drowsy, Emmy wasn’t dazed when she was born (I harbor the belief she was screaming in the womb as they pulled her out), and everyone was happier for the experience.
Some women claim that giving birth to their children without drugs brings them closer to God and closer to their partners. Others say that it allows them to really “meet themselves.” I met myself too, and it ends up, I like me. I liked me when I was pacing in my living room, and I liked me when I was in the rapidly cooling shower, and I liked me when I was laying in the hospital bed drifting off the sleep, excited that this would be my last night without my baby in my arms.
I liked all the “me’s” I met that night … but honestly, I liked the me that wasn’t screaming and doubled over in pain the best. She was far nicer to be around … and she had all the cranberry juice and ice chips she could handle.