Even before I ever became pregnant with my first child I knew I would want to have all-natural, drug-free labors. My own mother had never used an epidural and after watching Ricki Lake’s famous documentary, I was sold. I was never nervous about giving birth and actually looked forward to the experience. I wanted to feel every emotion and knew all the pain would be worth it in the end. I felt it would be a bonding experience like no other.
I've given birth twice with absolutely no interventions. It was definitely painful and I had moments when I wanted to quit and walk to the hospital for an epidural. But thankfully I always had supportive people around me and I made it through. The moments when I was able to hold my babies after pushing them out were filled with emotion. I cried and held them close and thought to myself, “Wow, we did it!”
When I became pregnant with a surrogate baby one of the questions I received frequently was how I would birth the baby. People close to me knew I was an advocate for drug-free home births. They wondered if things would be different this time around. At first I was pretty adamant about not using an epidural but I knew I would be giving birth in a hospital since that is what the intended parents felt most comfortable with. I decided to keep an open mind and go with the flow.
When the time to give birth came I went into the hospital unsure of how everything would turn out. Again, I wanted to keep an open mind. The intended parents were in the room with me, along with my husband, as I labored. The anesthesiologist came into the room and explained how an epidural would work and asked me if I would be requesting one. I told her I would think about it and sent her on her way. But when that first big contraction hit, I started to remember what natural labor felt like.
I needed to create some emotional distance between myself and the situation.
I remembered not only the pain, but all the feelings tied up with it. Since the parents were in the room with me I knew I didn’t want to be in so much pain and out of my mind in front of them. I also knew I didn’t want to be too emotional as the baby came out of me. I needed to create some emotional distance between myself and the situation.
So I looked at my husband and demanded an epidural immediately. I waited what seemed like forever for the anesthesiologist to return to my room and administer the drugs, but once she did I felt sweet relief. It was strange to be sitting in the bed laughing and watching TV. I was clueless as to when I was getting contractions. I would just watch the needle jump on the machine in awe.
Before I knew it, it was time to push. In seconds, the baby was born and while I was happy and relieved, it wasn’t nearly as sentimental as when my own babies were born. There was a definite disconnect, but not in a bad way. It was just what I needed to help keep my emotions in check as I focused on other things and kept my mood light. It made the transition from pregnancy to watching the baby go with her parents easier.
I’m glad I made the decision to get an epidural. Not only was birthing easier (who knew?!) but it helped me to keep my emotions at bay. Surrogacy is complicated enough as it is, and with all the hormones flying around this was just one little way to make the process a little bit easier for everyone.
And in the end, everyone got the birth they wanted.