I know lots of women who dream of giving birth without the aid of drugs (specifically the almighty epidural). They are worried about the giant needle or want to experience what women for thousands of years have experienced or they fear not being in control of their birth experience.
For as long as I can remember, I always knew that, when my day to give birth came, I'd want that epidural as fast as possible.
I don't like needles (I can't even watch when they take my blood), but I don't like pain even more.
When I arrived at the hospital with my first pregnancy, my midwife said, "Is it going to change your mind about an epidural depending on how far along you are?" I said no and she ordered the epidural before even checking me. When she did check me, after the epidural had taken effect, I was already at a 9, but since I ended up pushing for about three hours before delivery, I was pretty happy to have had that epidural.
With my second daughter, I was induced a week after my due date and I asked for an epidural as soon as the contractions became even a little bit painful (like I said, I don't like pain). It was a quick labor and delivery, with only four hours from when my induction started to when my baby was born, and from that moment on, I started to wonder if a third birth would be too fast for an epidural.
And sure enough, the night before I was scheduled to be induced with my third baby (also several days after my due date), my water unexpectedly broke.
Suddenly, with zero prep, I was staring down a natural birth.
We had just gotten out of the car to go to dinner, but packed everyone back in and dropped our older girls back at the house with my mom, grabbed our bags and headed to the hospital.
When we arrived, about an hour after my water broke, I still wasn't really feeling any significant pain, and when we got wheeled up to Labor and Delivery, I could tell the nurse didn't think I was very far along. She told us they were having trouble finding a room, it was really busy, could we just wait in the lobby for a bit while she asked around?
And then, suddenly, I was feeling REALLY lousy. I could hardly stand up and the nurse immediately found an empty triage room.
When another nurse checked me, he told me I was complete and that there probably wouldn't be time to get an anesthesiologist there before I would deliver my baby. Suddenly, with zero prep, I was staring down a natural birth.
The good news is that all the labor was already behind me (15 whole minutes of it) and all I had to do was actually deliver the baby.
The doctor arrived with three nurses in tow. There was no time to move to an actual delivery room, so we stayed in triage, and I commenced pushing.
After a few rounds, I said to my husband, "This actually isn't as bad as I expected." Pushing was a lot better than labor because I felt like I was actually doing something and had a goal to concentrate on besides just trying not to die of the pain.
Of course, then, 25 minutes later, the baby crowned and I had a whole new appreciation for why people don't want to do natural childbirth. That minute or two on that last contraction was brutal.
When my second daughter had been born, I felt those huge waves of euphoria people talk about (even with an epidural). This time, I was so dazed by the crazy intensity that I just wanted to lie there and recover. After they weighed my baby and pronounced her to be just over 10 pounds, I felt vindicated in being so stunned by delivery.
It's certainly not the birth I would have requested (if I have a fourth child, I'll be camping out in a delivery room for a week before my due date), but on the whole, it was less terrible than I expected.
Plus, not only did I get a baby out of it, I also got one terrific story.
And now I really can't understand why women choose to birth their babies naturally when an epidural is an option. Having done it both ways, I can confidently say that the epidural is by far my favorite choice.